Does knit fabric shrink when it’s washed and dried?

Knit fabrics are a combination of loops that form an open fabric. The most common types of knitwear include sweaters, socks and hats to name just a few items you may find in your closet. This post will explain how and why it shrinks when washing.

Why does knit fabric shrink?

When compared with other fabrics, knit fabric is more delicate. It does not have the same durability as the woven fabric has. This is because knitting yarns are connected together to form the actual cloth that comprises garments and accessories.

This also means that it could shrink up to 5% just because it can be stretched up to 30% of its original length before it is completely broken. Most knit fabrics are produced from synthetic materials, and they tend to shrink more than their natural counterparts.

Shrinkage effect on knit fabric

Shrinkage depends on how tightly the garment is knit. So that tight knitted or close-woven fabric can shrink as much as 5 to 10 %; loosely woven fabrics like cotton jersey only shrink about 1%. The tighter the knit, the more it will shrink when washing and other processes.

In addition, shrinkage also depends on the material of which the garment is made. For example, wool is less likely to shrink than cotton or polyester because it has more elastic quality, but it is still susceptible to shrinking.

How to minimize knit garments shrinkage?

To reduce the chances of knit garments shrinking when washing, try to:

– Wash in warm water (30 degrees or lower).

– Use a gentle detergent.

– Air dry your garment if you can.

– Don’t hang it to dry in direct sunlight.

A good tip is not to use hot water for washing knits as this will cause shrinkage, instead opt for warm water and dissolve some mild handwashing soap into the water to clean your garment.

Excessive use of a fabric softener, especially those with silicone (dimethicone), will make the fabric weaker and prone to shrinkage. Therefore, always opt for a mild detergent as it kills germs without breaking down the fabric fibers in knit fabrics.

Stretch is an important factor to know when choosing knit fabric for a garment. Stretch allows garments to resist wrinkles and pulls and fades, but on the other hand, it also makes them more susceptible to shrinking.

Bottom line

So does knit fabric shrink? Yes, it shrinks up to 5%, regardless of what material is used in making the garment as long as you wash them in warm water.

To avoid shrinkage, always choose the appropriate knit fabric based on the type of garment you want to make. For instance, if making t-shirts or pants, choose a tighter knit, whereas loose knits are good for sweaters and baby clothes because they are more flexible and stretchable. You can also use your own washing habits as a guide to choosing the right knit fabric for your project.

In closing, always make sure you check and know all the measurements of a dress pattern before you start working on it. This way everything will fit properly, and there won’t be any surprises when you are done with your new dress!

Hope this article was useful and informative. Thank you for reading!

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I’m Jane and I’m the editor of! I am a long-time craft and clothing design fan who has been writing about these interests for years.

I have spent many hours studying knitting, weaving, sewing, embroidery, and quilting as well as learning about various brands and models of sewing gear and machines. In addition to this research, my work involves publishing information related to these topics in ways that will be informative for both amateur crafters like me and more experienced sewers!