How to Make Cotton Shirts Larger

Cotton is a robust fabric, and while some cotton shirts are pre-shrunk, others are not. If you have a cotton shirt that is too tight, you can stretch the shirt out to make it larger. Whether you shrunk the shirt while laundering or you bought it a size too small, try some do-it-yourself stretching techniques to make it bigger.

Close-up of a button-down cotton shirt. (Image: tostphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Fill a clean laundry tub, bathtub or sink with cool water. Use enough water so the entire shirt will be submerged. Add ¼ cup of hair conditioner or 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo per quart of water.

Step 2

Lay the shirt flat onto the water. Push it down with your hands into the water so it’s completely submerged. Avoid wadding up the shirt to place it in the water. This can prevent the conditioner or baby shampoo from penetrating all the fibers in the fabric.

Step 3

Leave the shirt to soak for 15 minutes. Use a pencil to trace an outline of another shirt in the desired size onto a large piece of parchment paper while the cotton shirt is soaking.

Step 4

Drain the water once 15 minutes has elapsed. Rinse the tub, then fill it will plain cool water to cover the shirt. Gently squeeze the shirt as it’s in the water to rinse out the conditioner or shampoo. Let it soak for five minutes. Continue rinsing with clean water until no conditioner or shampoo are left in the shirt.

Step 5

Take the shirt out of the water and wring it out gently. Lay the cotton shirt onto the parchment paper where you traced the outline of a larger shirt.

Step 6

Stretch the shirt with your hands so it fits into the outline of the shirt on the parchment paper. Once you’ve stretched it to the correct size, place heavy objects on each of the four corners of the shirt to hold it in place. Leave the shirt to dry on the parchment paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair conditioner or baby shampoo

  • Parchment paper

  • Pencil

  • Four heavy objects


If the shirt is stiff while you’re trying to stretch it onto the parchment paper, apply steam from a garment steamer or iron to make the fabric more supple.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.