Granted, most of the population can find an appropriate fit in the size range available, but this isn’t the case for everyone.
One group that often struggles with finding a comfortable, stretch muscle fit shirt is muscular guys. If you’ve been putting the work in the gym, then you’ll probably struggle to find shirts that are wide enough around your chest and arms, but also fitted enough around the waist.
Realistically you have a couple of options, and one of the more appealing options can be to stretch your shirts.
This article looks at how to stretch a dress shirt, but also looks at whether this is really worth it, or whether there are any other options.
How to stretch a shirt out
If you’re going to start trying to stretch a shirt, make sure you start with a good quality one. It should be 100% cotton, as polyester blends have little or no give in the material.
While the shirt doesn’t need to be particularly expensive, very cheap cotton shirts generally have a lower thread count, which makes them more likely to tear if you stretch them too hard.
When it comes to sizing, it obviously makes sense to choose a slightly smaller size, as you’ll want the shirt to be fitted in some areas and then made wider in the areas that need it.
It’s also probably worth trying this on an old shirt before you go out and buy any new ones to stretch because it might take a few attempts to get the fit right.
Ways to stretch a cotton shirt
Method 1: Soaking the shirt in water
- Wash your shirt
Fabric will stretch much easier when it’s wet, which is similarly the reason you have to reshape some clothes after washing. You can wash it either by hand or in the machine, as it’s only really to make it wet. Whichever method you choose, make sure you use cold water as this will prevent the shirt from shrinking any further. On your washing machine select cold wash - anything below 30 degrees.
2. Lay your shirt out
While it’s still wet, lay the shirt on a flat surface. If you’ve washed by hand, make sure you wring the shirt out before doing this. Either way, lay the shirt on a towel and make sure it’s flat and has no creases.
3. Stretch the shirt
Stretch the material in the areas where you want it to be larger. Wet cotton has a surprising amount of give in it, and you might find that the chest area has up to 5cm give in it. Similarly, the arms can have 2-3cm give in them.
4. Leave it to dry
Now simply leave the shirt on the towel to dry. Once it’s completely dry, try it on and see if it’s worked!
How to stretch out a shirt fast: Use conditioner
Hair conditioner?! That's right, I recommend using a branded conditioner that's been well tested.
Check out this step by step DIY tutorial by Jair Woo. Granted this relates to clothing shrinking in the wash but the principles remain the same.
1. Fill the sink with water
Fill the sink or bath with enough cold water to soak the shirt, and add 50-60ml of hair conditioner.
If you don’t have any conditioner. Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar too and give everything a good stir. Using white vinegar such as Jocker Woods leaves a pleasant smell on the garment and saves you having to rewash!
2. Leave the shirt to soak
Let the shirt soak for about 15 minutes. When putting the shirt in the water, make sure it’s kept as flat as possible. You can lay it flat in the bath, but fold it before soaking it in the sink.
3. Drain the water
Drain the water and replace with fresh. Squeeze the shirt gently in the water to remove the conditioner, and leave to soak for another 5 minutes. Keep rinsing and soaking the shirt until all the conditioner has been rinsed out.
Roll the shirt up in two towels to dry it, and then lay on a flat surface. Exactly the same as before, stretch the shirt in the areas that need making larger. You should then leave it to dry and check to see if it’s worked.
If you need it stretched more, you can just repeat this method. For the best results, iron immediately.
Method 3: Stretch with some weight
An option on how to stretch a shirt without water - Apply some paper weights to manipulate the size of the shirt fabric. Using paper weights will provide a more even spread on the shirt.
If you’ve used one of the above methods, you may want to use weights on the shirt to keep it stretched out. On the edges of the shirt, place the paper weights that will keep the shirt stretched-out in place.
You can also place items inside the shirt depending on where you want the shirt to be stretched out.
How to make a shirt bigger
As we've shown you can make a tight shirt bigger by stretching the shirt out. Stretching a shirt isn't necessarily a lot of work but is stretching a shirt really worth it?
This can depend on a few things, such as the quality and choice of material and how much extra room you need. While stretching a shirt might work for some people, the results vary too much to say whether it’s completely worth it.
Similarly, off-the-rack shirts don’t offer a particularly good fit to begin with. Sure, plenty of people can find shirts that fit, but that doesn't mean they fit well.
There’s also the fact that, while cotton does have a bit of stretch to it, it doesn’t necessarily stay stretched.
A cotton shirt will generally shrink during a wash, so you’d have to do this every time. Other fabrics, such as polyester, rayon and wool, have varying levels of stretch, but come with a range of other problems too.
What’s the solution? Should I stretch a shirt myself?
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