A type of rayon fabric, viscose is a very popular fabric that most people around the world will know of. It is used to make different items of clothing as well as in upholstery and other items around the home.
Viscose is made from wood pulp and can often be used as a replacement for silk. Designed to be an economical version of silk, viscose has the fall and feel of the fine fabric. Tailors, interior decorators, and crafters around the world have been using it for decades due to its versatility and economy.
Despite draping like silk, viscose feels more like cotton. It is extremely lightweight and breathable making it a great fabric for summer clothes.
Viscose is made of fibers that will pick up color very fast making it a popular fabric for crafters looking to add color to their homes or wardrobe. The material maintains its shape well so can be blended with elastic fabrics to add stretch.
So how do you shrink or unshrink viscose? Viscose shrinks if it absorbs too much water, so soaking it in hot water is a simple way to shrink it. You can also unshrink viscose by softening it with baby shampoo or hair conditioner and gently stretching it by hand.
Shrinking viscose to the size you want is surprisingly easy. Likewise, if you are ever looking to unshrink viscose, maybe because it shrunk too much or accidentally got too small, you will only need a few simple things and a little time.
In this guide, we will walk you through the steps that you can shrink and unshrink our viscose fabric. The processes are simple overall, but we will cover all the important details so you can get the best results without disturbing the integrity of your imitation silk.
So without further ado, let’s get going!
How to Shrink Viscose
Let’s get one word of warning out: if you’re looking to shrink a finished piece of store-bought clothing made from viscose fabric, you may not be able to get the best results. This is because there are often stabilizers used in the manufacturing process that make the fabric less prone to shrinkage.
If, however, you are looking to shorten an unfinished piece of viscose fabric, you should be able to. You won’t be able to guarantee the amount of shrinkage that will take place exactly, but it will get smaller.
Shrinking Viscose, Step By Step
Before you start shrinking your viscose fabric, you should understand that it is a fabric although this drapey fabric maintains shape well, it is very susceptible to shrinkage.
You may want to run it through a cold wash with a mild detergent first. This will get any initial shrinkage out of the way (and may mean you don’t need to shrink your fabric any further).
If you do need to shrink your piece, however, here is how to shrink viscose:
Step 1: Prepare hot, or warm, water.
For this process you will need warm to hot water.
Water at 60-80 Fahrenheit will provide minor shrinkage, while 90-110 Fahrenheit will give you moderate shrinkage. If you are looking for maximum shrinkage, your water should be at 130 Fahrenheit.
You will need enough to soak your fabric completely.
Step 2: Submerge and agitate the fibers
Place your fabric in the hot water. Use a wooden spoon or any long utensil to gently move the fabric around in the water for a moment.
This won’t take much; this step is just to ensure that all the fibers of the fabric well soaked through with water.
Step 3: Leave the fabric to soak.
After agitating your fabric and ensuring it is soaking well, leave it for up to 3 hours. The longer you soak your fabric, the more the threads will shorten. This is where you can control the amount of shrinkage you want.
Step 4: Remove excess water.
When you take the fabric out of the hot water, place it in between two towels. These will take out the excess water and dry the fabric out as much as possible.
Don’t agitate it at this point by rubbing it unnecessarily. Viscose pills easily and you could ruin the look of your fabric.
Step 5: Lie it flat.
Lie viscose fabric down on a flat surface. It should not be hung or dried in a way that might cause it to stretch back.
Step 6: Apply heat.
You can either put the viscose fabric into your dryer on a gentle cycle or use a blow dryer (recommended) to apply heat to it.
Using a blow dryer gives you more control. Use the blow dryer on the highest heat setting and make sure you are applying even heat.
You can also let it dry naturally and simply iron it out when it’s only slightly damp.
And voila! You have your shrunken piece of viscose fabric.
Remember to follow any care instructions of the fabric in the future to avoid any further shrinkage. Viscose will shrink more if exposed to hot water. So if you have to wash it, wash it in cold water, and ideally by hand. Don’t use more soap or detergent than necessary.
How to Unshrink Viscose
Maybe you have shrunk your viscose fabric a bit too much. Maybe you washed a piece of clothing made from viscose without realizing or maybe your piece has just gotten a snug and now it does not fit. Either way, you will naturally want to unshrink it.
Unshrinking viscose is not an exact science.
You will be able to stretch the fabric to a certain extent but it all depends on how much it shrunk in the first place. If it shrunk only a little, you should be able to stretch it back, but if it has shrunk a bit too much, you probably will not be able to get it back to its original size.
The process of unshrinking viscose fabric will not take you a very long time and can be done easily. You should be prepared to focus all your efforts on this project till you have hung up the fabric to dry because this process requires having to work fast.
Unshrinking Viscose, Step By Step
Follow these steps to unshrink viscose:
Step 1: Prepare a solution of softener and water.
You need either baby shampoo or hair conditioner for this process. These products are both natural softeners and will help relax the fibers of the fabric.
Add a tablespoon of either to a quart of water in a bowl and mix well.
Step 2: Soak your fabric.
Once you have mixed in the softener with water, you can then place your fabric in the bowl.
You don’t need to soak it for very long as that could completely distort the shape. Instead, keep an eye on it and only let it soak for a few minutes.
Step 3: Get rid of excess water.
Remove the fabric from the water and gently remove excess water from it. Remember not to wring or twist your fabric as that can damage your viscose.
Use towels to gently press the moisture out of it, but do this with a very light touch only.
Step 4: Lay it flat.
Lay the fabric flat on a smooth surface. Don’t use a surface that has any bumps or unevenness to it as that will hurt the stretching process in the next step.
Step 5: Gently stretch the fabric.
After lying the fabric down, start stretching the fabric from one side at a time. Use your hands and gently stretch the fabric by pushing them out to the sides.
Start by stretching it as little as possible and slowly work your way up to stretch it more and more with each pass you work around the perimeter.
Step 6: Apply heat, if needed.
If after stretching you don’t feel like it is back to the size you want it to be, you can always hang it up on a non-metal hanger and use a steamer to apply some gentle heat.
Once you start applying the heat, stretch with your hands again, gently making your way around the fabric.
Step 7: Hang it up.
Once you feel like you have the fabric stretched to the size you want, hang it up on a non-metal hanger to dry. Air drying will help the viscose keep its shape and will not let it shrink back.
You can check out this video from One Good Thing by Jillee for a visual tutorial that will work for unshrinking a variety of clothes.
This tutorial is not for viscose specifically, however. So be sure not to roll up your fabric or pull so firmly when stretching your more delicate viscose fabric:
Is Viscose a Good Fabric?
Viscose is a great option if you are looking for a lightweight and breathable material that drapes like silk. It also has the look and feels of silk but the price is much cheaper. It can convey luxury but will not hurt your pocket.
Many also like that viscose is sourced from natural (biodegradable) materials; although because it is manufactured from cellulose (usually wood pulp), it is considered semisynthetic.
Does Viscose Wrinkle Easily?
Yes, viscose is a fabric that wrinkles very easily. It will wrinkle if it is left in a folded or scrunched position. The best way to avoid getting your fabric wrinkled is to keep it flat when drying and hanging it up to store when dry.
Are Viscose and Rayon the Same Thing?
Though these two words are sometimes used interchangeably by those who don’t know them well, rayon and viscose are not quite synonymous.
Viscose is a type of rayon. It describes the liquid state of the spinning solution that is used to make the viscose fabric.
Is Viscose Warmer Than Wool?
Wool is warmer than viscose. Viscose is a fabric that is great for the summer months due to its lightweight and breathable feel.
Viscose is a versatile fabric that has been used as a substitute for silk since forever. It is much more economical and is used to make clothing, upholstery, and many crafts.
If you’re looking to shrink viscose, you need to apply heat through water and use a blow dryer. You will not be able to control the amount of shrinkage that happens but will be able to get a result close to what you need.
Unshrinking viscose is not impossible, soaking it in water and stretching it by hand tends to do that job. Softeners are used to make this even easier and letting it air dry on a hanger finishes up the process.
We hope this guide helps you with all the viscose projects you do, whether you are shrinking your fabric or unshrinking it.