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How To Calculate Fabric Shrinkage In 3 Easy Steps

May 10, 2020 9 min read 11 Comments

How To Calculate  Fabric Shrinkage In 3 Easy Steps

What Is Fabric Shrinkage

Fabric shrinkage is used as a factor that determines the changes in length and width of fabric after washing it. The shrinkage of fabric is the same either you are washing it in a washing machine or dry cleaning. The rate of shrinkage of fabric is the same in both cases. Fabric shrinkage is the major concerning point for the ready-made garment’s suppliers.

As fabric shrinkage after washing may affect the size of their garments. Item particulars of material and attire items have consistently profoundly affected the thinking and arranging of supervisors in every aspect of material and clothing creation. In today's competitive markets where quality is normal at a low value, clothing organizations are requesting the low shrinkage from their providers to address the issues of the buyer. Notwithstanding low qualities, the shrinkage from the article of clothing to piece of clothing for a similar style must be reliable.

Generally, clothing producers have set inflexible particulars for their providers that by and large permit no place for the mistake in handling. Actually, some shrinkage details for attire items may not be feasible at all by the providers of that item. A shrinkage test is performed by simple hand washing of small pieces of fabric. The shrinkage is basically due to the use of unstable and low-quality material used in the fabric. If the material is not good it will undergo the shrinkage without dry clean the clothes.

Types Of Shrinkage

There are two types of shrinkage. One is called expansion and the other is called contraction. But in both types of shrinkage, the dimensional change is mandatory. Either you are exposing the piece of cloth to water or heat. It is also not necessary that the fiber shrinks only once, the subsequent washing leads towards more shrinkage in most of the natural fibers.

The shrinkage of fabric is the decrease in the length and width of fabric after exposing the fiber to that of water, steam, or any chemical treatment. The fabric shrinks in both length and width mostly the cotton fabrics, others shrink in only one dimension. This is due to the high tension which the fiber face during manufacturing.

How the fabric shrinks, as the extreme stretch in yarn during manufacturing makes its diameter high but when exposed to water the fibers of material shrink. The low-quality fabric has more stretch in yarn as compared to that of the high quality. The low stretch causes less fabric shrinkage after washing. Residual shrinkage is the resultant shrinkage produced when tension is applied to the wet fabric. There are different material shrinkage rates that depend on the properties and composition of the material.

Shrinkage Of Natural And Synthetic Fibers

Natural fibers react differently to water as compared to that of the man-made fibers. Nylon and polyesters which are synthetic fibers shrink less than that of natural ones. Structure and substance decide the sort and level of strands of fabric. Manufactured strands are progressively more stable because of their crystalline and thermoplastic nature. They don't shrivel, while that of natural fabric material is progressively inclined to recoil in view of an increasingly undefined locale in their fiber structure which permits more retention of water, expanding of filaments, and expanded lubricity builds the contracting inclination.

Modal Fabric Shrinkage 

Modal fabric is resistant to shrinking, unlike common fabric materials. It is made from the materials of the beech tree see image below. Modal fabric is fifty percent more resistant to shrinkage than that of cotton. The modal fabric shrinkage can occur if it is treated severely during washing. This can also be due to its treatment with hard chemicals. Modal fabric can be prevented from shrinkage by washing it with regular detergent and using warm water.


Modal fabrics should be washed gently for five minutes. Shrinkage of modal fabric is not only limited to washing but after washing, effects may also impact the shrinkage fabric like ironing. Some modular articles of clothing, contingent upon how they are woven and built, may wrinkle too much when washed and will require pressing. Utilize a medium-hot iron and constantly iron on an inappropriate side of the texture. For additional assurance, utilize a squeezing material between the iron and the modular texture. Amazingly high temperatures when pressing can sear cellulosic filaments of fabric. The searing or yellowing happens as the fibers consume.

Rayon Fabric Shrinkage 

Spun Rayon Fabric

Rayon fabric needs to be treated smoothly and gently during washing and ironing. Rayon fiber shrinkage can happen when it is treated hardly with chemicals. Rayon fabric shrinkage occurs as it is washed in warm water or dried in the dryer. Wash the rayon fabric in normal water and regular detergent, this can prevent the shrinkage. Each fabric has its own particular shrinkage percentage depending upon its manufacturing material.

Linen Fabric Shrinkage 

Linen Fabric

Linen is one that dries quickly and is more comfortable and smoother to carry. Flax is a fiber that is used in the manufacturing of it which makes linen a good absorbent but more shrinkable. linen fabric shrinkage occurs when it encounters water. It does not matter whether it is cold or hot water, it shrinks. So, Lukewarm water is more preferred when washing your smooth linen fabric. Blended fabrics which are a mixture of two or more fabrics undergo less shrinkage as compared to the natural ones. As they are more synthetic ones. Lyocell fabric undergoes shrinkage only on the first wash. Lyocell fabric shrinkage is much less as compared to that of other fabrics, only 3%.

Viscose Fabric Shrinkage

Viscose Polyester fabric

As, it is clear that every type of fabric shrinks there is a question in the mind of many people, does viscose shrinks like those of others. The viscose also shrinks like many other fibers on every wash. The viscose fabric shrinkage is common as all of the other fabrics. You can, in any case, have any kind of effect in how your garments look and lessen contracting and extending by utilizing the correct clothing methods. That being said, in practically all pieces of clothing there will be some shrinkage in fabric or extending because of the mileage of the texture.

Shrinkage or extending whenever is lingering, so even a little move in size after each time the article of clothing is tidied will include. How to shrink viscose, can shrivel when you don't see the temperature, particularly at the primary wash, since plastic strands are utilized here, which contract at higher temperatures. In the wake of being worn for quite a while, these plastic strands are wrecked and afterward, this doesn't happen anymore. Viscose shrink differently from those of natural and synthetic ones as it is different from both of these. Flannel fabric shrinkage is more common than viscose.

How To shrinkThe Fabric

Shrinking the garments by putting them in the washing machine can be a powerful and modest strategy to scale down your garments. In case you own a piece of clothing that is excessively enormous, you can shrink it in the washer as an initial step before taking it to a tailor. You might have the option to effectively shrink it to the size you need without paying for changes. You can simply wash it in a machine at high temperature or you can simply prolong the washing and drying cycle. In this scenario simply you wash it for the sake of shrinkage.

Fabric Shrinkage Control

Shrinkage control is the factor that should be a priority for manufacturers. The shrinkage of fabric can be prevented by appropriate knitted manufacturing. High moisture content also increases the rate of shrinkage. High-quality softeners should be making the fabric resistant to shrinkage. The fabric must be passed through various methods during manufacturing to prevent shrinkage after sewing.

Using fabric shrinkage standards are best to prevent the shrinkage of fabric. The standard operating procedures are helpful in preventing the shrinkage of fabrics. There is a method to treat fabric shrinkage. Although, this method does not prevent the fabric from initial shrinkage but removes shrinkage after initial shrinkage. Thermoplasticity is the method in which the shrinkage fiber is stretched into its original state and is cooled after the reaction of hot steam. This process will mold the fiber into its original state. 

Material Shrinkage Calculation

The shrinkage factor is dependent on the chemical composition and properties of the material. As plastic shrinkage factor is based on the thermal conditions and its molded structure. Similarly, the absorption capacity of fabric is the primary factor of fabric shrinkage. While fabric structure, temperature, processing tension, and weaving fabric tightness are considered as secondary factors of fabric shrinkage. All these factors allow expansion and relaxation within the fabric which causes shrinkage. Another factor is the raw materials that are used in knitting the fabric. The raw material with less shrinkage capacity is used in synthetic fibers and more shrinkage capacity is that of viscose fiber.

Methods For Calculation Of Fabric Shrinkage

There are many methods for determining the shrinkage of fabric. The fabric shrinkage testers are in a wide range.  But the most reliable fabric shrinkage test method for determining the shrinkage is preparing the sample for the test. The two most widely used methods for are AATCC test method 135 which is also called dimensional changes of fabric and AATCC 150 after home laundering.

These methods involve the use of a home machine to wet off the fabric. Agitate the fabric for five minutes in the machine. The actual shrinkage of fabric occurs as the fabric undergoes the mechanical action in a tumble dryer. For best and authentic results wash and dry the fabric for three cycles. Regular laundry detergents are used along with marker and balanced cloth.  Three samples must be taken for effective results. Determine the width and length of the samples.

To shrink the fabric the washing and drying conditions must be noted properly along with the type of detergent that is used for each sample. Linen and woven fabrics should be treated differently. Remove the samples from your dryer and hung them properly. The next step is to measure the change in the length and width of the sample. As the lengths and widths are determined before and after shrinkage. The difference in values before and after shrinkage helps in calculating the actual fabric shrinkage. The results are multiplying by a hundred which gives the actual percentage of fabric shrinkage. Fabric shrinkage testing help the manufacturer in improving the quality of their fabric.

Fabric Shrinkage Rates

There are different shrinkage rates that can be determined by using the two most recognized shrinkage standards. These are I.S.O and AATCC for checking the shrinkage rate of the fabric. AATCC Test Method 135, AATCC Test Method 150, ISO 6330,and CAN/CGSB 58 is the most commonly used test methods. Fabric shrinkage test procedures are based on the Dimensional change of the fabric that it undergoes during washing. These involve laundering a sample of fabric following a specific procedure and measuring the lengths and widths.

AATCC Test Method 135 involves the laundering of sample fabric thrice and values are measured and compared before and after laundering. While AATCC Test Method 150 determines the shrinkage rate of the fabric after home laundering. The fabric shrinkage percentage is determined by the length of fabric before and after laundering and looking at the fabric shrinkage percentage calculation. If shrinkage % is less than 5 %, it is acceptable by consumers but there are chances of its rejection if it is more than 5%. 

Fabric Shrinkage Formula

To calculate fabric shrinkage for any given fabric let's follow fabric shrinkage formula 3 simple steps below and record your before wash and after wast measurements to determine your total fabric shrinkage for width and length.

Step 1).

Cut a square of fabric from a roll and draw a square 18"x18" on the fabric. Make sure you are using a fabric marker and that your square is at least 2" away from salvage.
Measure Square Before Wash
18"x18" square block before shrinking
Lengthwise measurement =18"
Widthwise measurement = 18"

Step 2).

Wash your fabric sample following your standard washing method to find the shrinkage percentage to washing then let dry. Measure square after wash.
18"x18" square block after shrinking results
Lengthwise measurement =17"
Widthwise measurement = 15"

Step 3). 

Apply Fabric Shrinkage Formula:
[Width of the square block before shrinking] - [width of the square block after shrinking] / width of the square block before shrinking x 100

Lengthwisetotal shrinkage percent Formula: [(18 - 17) / 18] x 100 = 5.55% = 6%
Widthwise total shrinkage percent Formula:   [(18 - 15) / 18] x 100 = 16.66% = 17%



Can you measure my square test blocks?
Yes, We can measure and calculate fabric shrinkage for all your square test blocks before applying shrinkage to your patterns.

To what address do I send my blocks?
Please send your square test blocks to our shipping address here

What is the cost to measure my blocks?
The cost to measure and calculate shrinkage is $10 dollars per block measured.

What Pattern file formats can I upload?
You can upload Gerber ZIP files and DXF/AAMA files.

What wash process shrinks fabric? Any [Wet Wash Process/Chemical Process] will shrink the fabric. So prior to cutting fabric for bulk production, you must check its shrinkage percentage in washing. 

What Patterns Need shrinkage Applied? Any pattern that is cut on a fabric that contains Natural fibers—such as Cotton, Linen, Silk, Denim, Corduroy, Flannels and any other fabrics containing natural Cotton fibers will need to have a pattern with shrinkage added as these fabrics are more susceptible to the shrinkage process than synthetics.

What is Selvedge? The selvage (sometimes spelled selvage) is the tightly woven edge of your fabric which is cut off to prevent it from appearing on your sewn pieces on your design. The term 'usable width of fabric', means the width of your fabric minus its selvages.


Ready to start adding shrinkage to all of your patterns? If so, calculate and apply fabric shrinkage percentages for any type of fabric then let us apply your fabric shrinkage results to all your patterns.

Do not want to calculate fabric shrinkage yourself? Let us measure your square test blocks and calculate fabric shrinkage for all your square blocks simple as that!


Alejandro Esparza
Alejandro Esparza

11 Responses

Habibur Rahman
Habibur Rahman

March 24, 2020

Valuable lesson

Md Mahmudul Hasan
Md Mahmudul Hasan

October 18, 2019

carry on!!


May 11, 2020

Plz let me know how can I caculate/adjust measurement discrepency according to Fabric shrinkage?

Thanks & Regards

Kheng Vanneth
Kheng Vanneth

October 18, 2019

Many thanks for your shared feature document regarded with garment.


May 12, 2020

Thanks for share importance.


August 08, 2018

Shrinkage Template & Ruler, suitable for all shrinkage testing standards. With high transparent plexiglass plate and the unique design on appearance, it combines the different test standards in one template.

Alejandro Esparza
Alejandro Esparza

December 13, 2017

Hello Stafford Heppenstall ,

Please see info. I typed below hope it gives a clear understanding of what fabric length and fabric width is.

What is fabric length ? Answer: Fabric length if referred as the total amount of yards contained in a roll of fabric. Example: when purchasing fabric from a fabric vendor they might sale you bulk fabric by the bolt or roll. Bolt (is a unit of measurement used for different types of materials including fabric that are stored in roll.)

How much is a yard of fabric? Answer: In inches a yard of fabric is = (36 inches or 3 feet). In centimeters a yard of fabric is a little over ( 90cm.)

What is fabric width? Answer: fabric width is the width of a roll of fabric from edge to edge or (salvage to salvage) The width of a bolt of fabric usually comes in this popular widths of 36, 45,58, 60 and 70 inches. Now when purchasing fabric to cut your designs or markers you must know what are your rolls of fabric usable widths as some fabrics have borders. Cuttable fabric widths are usually 1-2 inches less than the full width of your fabric depending on how your fabric salvage is finished and if any border or stripe is present at both sides of your roll of fabric.

Stafford Heppenstall
Stafford Heppenstall

December 12, 2017

I’m sorry I have a rudimentary question and I just want a definitive answer, When calculating shrinkage is which way is width and which way is length?

Alejandro Esparza
Alejandro Esparza

October 28, 2017

Thank you Jakir,
Do you mean how torquing was calculated on article: HOW TO: CALCULATE PANTS SPIRALITY PERCENTAGE IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS? [ https://www.smartpatternmaking.com/blogs/pattern-making-news-articles-and-tips-smart-pattern-making-1/how-to-calculate-pants-spirality-percentage-in-5-simple-steps ] if so, what is your question?


October 15, 2017

this is important subject


October 15, 2017

need help from your end Fabric twisting calculation.

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