How to Shrink a Wool Jacket

Alterations to oversize wool jackets and blazers can be time-consuming if they are done at home and costly if they are done by a professional tailor. Shrinking a wool jacket at home can be a cost-efficient solution to decrease the size of a jacket if done carefully. The heavyweight wools used for coats, jackets and blazers are made to repel water on the surface for minimal soaking. But when heat and water are combined, the fibers of the fabric tighten, shrinking the size of the garment. Using your bathroom or laundry room, you can alter the size of a jacket without the use of a needle, thread or sewing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing machine

  • Dryer

  • Anti-static dryer sheet

  • Bathtub or large sink

  • Clothes hanger or large towel

Shrinking a Wool Jacket With a Washing Machine

Step 1

Place the wool jacket in your washing machine. Wash it in warm water for a full cycle for minimal shrinkage before drying it. Use hot water for maximum shrinkage.

Step 2

Remove the wool jacket from the washer, and place it in the dryer with an anti-static dryer sheet. Begin a full cycle on medium to high heat. More heat will lead to more shrinkage.

Step 3

Remove the jacket from the dryer periodically to monitor how much shrinkage has occurred. This will keep the jacket from shrinking past the desired size. It will also help you monitor the level of twisting and warping that might occur.

Step 4

Hang the jacket or lay the jacket flat to dry if it has reached the desired size before the dryer cycle is complete. Finish the full drying cycle otherwise.

Step 5

Repeat the full process at the highest heat levels possible if the jacket has not shrunk to desired size.

Shrinking a Wool Jacket Without a Washing Machine

Step 1

Place the jacket in a bathtub or large sink filled with hot water.

Step 2

Agitate the jacket in the hot water, as if you were completing the normal hand-washing process.

Step 3

Hang the jacket or lay the jacket flat to dry. Lightweight jackets and wools with looser knits will shrink minimally with exposure to air. Reshape the jacket to its normal shape if you lay the jacket flat to dry.

Step 4

Repeat the process if the jacket has not shrunk to the desired size.


You can possibly reverse some of the shrinkage by washing in the jacket in cold water and stretching it to the desired size, then laying it flat to dry.


Remember that wool is a fabric with a memory. Once you shrink wool, it will return to the shrunken size after each wash. Expansion after the original shrinkage is only minimal.