Welcome to our article on how to stretch a shirt. These steps below will work on t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, and any other pull-over shirt that’s fabric will stretch.

Keep in mind that taking these steps will alter the fabric, making the shirt lighter in weight and also less durable to daily stressors.

Table of Contents

  • Fastest way to stretch a shirt: Use an iron
  • Best way to stretch a shirt: Stretch with conditioner

How To Stretch A Shirt

Let  these six options help you stretch out your shirt and get it fitting just right.

Stretch with an Iron

Total Time: 3hrs

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Water basin
  • Ironing board
  • Iron
  • 4 weighted objects
this is a photo of a sink to stretch a shirt with an iron
this is a photo of an iron to stretch a shirt with an iron
this is a photo of an ironing board to stretch a shirt with an iron
this is a photo of 4 weights, in cans, to stretch a shirt

1. Wet entire shirt in cool water before ironing

Wet the entire shirt in cool water, ensuring it’s completely damp. Hold it flat towards the bottom of a bowl or a sink to ensure it’s evenly wet.

this is a photo of a shirt being soaked in water to shrink it with an iron

2. Wring shirt dry of excess water before ironing

Wring it out to get rid of excess water to prevent dripping. Don’t be shy in this, you are going to iron the shirt so leaving wrinkles and crinkles from a tight grip is not going to be an issue.

this is a photo of a shirt being wrung out before ironing it to stretch

3. Lay damp shirt on ironing board

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface, preferably an ironing board. Make sure whatever you’re ironing on can handle the heat. An ironing board is best, but you could also use the countertop or floor if you’re careful. Be sure to clean the surface thoroughly if you are using something other than an ironing board.

this is a photo of a damp shirt laid on an ironing board

4. Iron the shirt with force to stretch it

With your iron on medium-low, start going over the t-shirt using pressure. With the iron in one hand and the shirt in another, start pulling and pressing the shirt out with the iron. Don’t just go over the shirt. Use the iron with force, making the t-shirt stretch as the iron passes over it.

this is a photo of tall paul ironing a shirt with force to stretch it

5. Dry the shirt flat with weights

Make sure it’s flat and give it a final tug one last time. Spread it to dry, and place weights around the edges if you like. This ensures it stays at the size it is now, how you want it.

this is a photo of a shirt drying with weights on it

Stretch with a chair

Total Time: 2hr 45min

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Water basin
  • Chair

1. Wet the entire shirt before putting over a chair

Get the entire shirt wet. You can use the washing machine and stretch your shirt after cleaning it. But I suggest you dunk it into a tub of water and hold it down for 30 seconds until full saturated.

this is a photo of a shirt getting wet before stretching over a chair

2. Wring shirt dry of excess water to not soak chair

Wring the shirt out and pull it over the back of a chair. Wringing out the shirt will first off help the shirt dry faster in it newly stretched form, but also help in not soaking the chair and potentially ruining it long-term.

this is a photo of tall paul wringing out a shirt before stretching it over a chair

3. Pull shirt down over back of chair

Pull the damp shirt down over the back of the chair. Pull of the bottom of the shirt and let the shoulders of the shirt pull directly on the top of the chair. Leave the shirt to dry on the back of the chair.

this is a photo of tall paul pulling a shirt down over the back of a chair to stretch it

Stretch with conditioner

Total Time: 3hrs

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Water basin
  • Hair conditioner
  • Towel
  • 4 weighted objects
this is a photo of a water basin to stretch a shirt with conditioner
this is a photo of a towel used to stretch a shirt with conditioner
this is a photo of conditioner used to stretch a shirt with conditioner
this is a photo of weights to shrink a shirt with conditioner

1. Soak the shirt in water before adding conditioner

Cover the shirt wet in a basin of lukewarm water. You can soak it in the sink, a tub or a large bowl. Make sure to use room temperature-to-lukewarm water and saturate all fabric of the t-shirt.

this is a photo of a shirt soaking in water before adding conditioner

2. Add conditioner to the shirt and water

Add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of hair conditioner per 1 quart (1 liter) of water. Or just give it a few solid squirts and you’ll be fine! Once added, mix it up with your hand to make sure the conditioner doesn’t stay in globs and fully dissolves into the water. The hair conditioner will soften the fibres, making them easier to stretch.

this is a photo of conditioner being added to the shirt in water to stretch it

3. Keep shirt submerged for 15 minutes in conditioner water

Keep the shirt submerged for 15 minutes. It’s easiest to put the t-shirt on top of the bowl or sink and then gently press it into the water, making sure the conditioned water gets into every fiber of the t-shirt. If it’s wadded up, areas of the shirt will shrink differently.

this is a photo of a shirt in water with conditioner for 15 minutes

4. Rinse shirt of conditioner thoroughly

Rinse the t-shirt thoroughly. Take the shirt out of the bowl, dump the water, and refill it with clean, cool water (or use a different bowl).

this is a photo of tall paul rinsing the conditioner out of his shirt

5. Wring shirt out and lay flat

Wring out the shirt so it’s damp, not soaking, and find a flat place to lay out the shirt. You can use your dryer, a countertop, or the floor works well. Lay down some towels first to protect the shirt (and the surface, if you don’t want it wet.)

this is a photo of a shirt being wrung dry

6. Use your hands to stretch the shirt

Pull and ply the shirt in areas you want to be stretched. Do not have the buttons buttoned-up at this time, or you will loosen them and may even pull them off completely.

this is a photo of tall paul stretching a shirt with his hands

7. Lay stretched shirt out on towel to dry

Spread the stretched shirt out on a towel to dry. If you’re worried about it shrinking, place weights on the edges. If you’re looking for a larger bust or stomach, you can place objects within the t-shirt to stretch those areas out even more.

this is a photo of a stretched damp shirt laid out on a towel to dry

FAQ

You can stretch shirts to make them bigger if they are made from cotton or other fabrics that allow for some stretch. The best way to stretch your shirt is to get it wet and pull on the areas you want to be stretched.

The quickest way to stretch your clothes is to put them on and bend, pull, and twist them. By moving and pulling at sharp angles, the fabric will be forced to stretch. This is your best short term option for a quick stretch.

The best way to stretch the width of your shirt is to get it wet and pull on the torso and waist of it. Once you have stretched it enough, lay it flat on a table and put weights on the edges of the waist, so it dries in the new shape.

To stretch your shirt to the max, you need to find a friend larger than you and get them to put it on. Get them to wear it while they sleep and give it back to you in the morning. This will stretch your shirt all over.