Fabric Shrinkage

In the apparel industry, “shrinkage” refers to the reduction in size or dimensions of a material, such as fabric and sewing thread, after being subjected to washing, drying, or other textile processing methods. The consequence of shrinkage can affect the finished garment’s fit, appearance, quality, and durability.


Commonly, shrinkage is expressed as a percentage, indicating the change in size relative to the original dimensions. For example, a fabric with a 5% shrinkage rate will reduce its size by 5% after washing.


Fabric shrinkage can occur due to various factors, such as the relaxing of tension in the fibres, the compression of fibres, or the release of residual stresses within the fabric structure. Understanding the fabric’s properties is crucial to minimizing the impact of fabric shrinkage in finished garments. Doing so helps us make informed decisions during production, implement proper care instructions for consumers, and ultimately ensure the garment’s longevity.

Fabric Shrinkage

Fabric properties that influence shrinkage

Fabric Shrinkage

The decision to pre-treat a fabric before garment assembly depends on various factors, including the fabric type, the garment’s intended use, and the acceptable shrinkage level for the specific design. There is no universal shrinkage value that demands pre-treatment, as different garments may have different requirements. However, as a general guideline:

Additionally, perform shrinkage tests on a small fabric sample before garment assembly to assess the extent of dimensional changes and make informed decisions about pre-treatment.

This information is a part of the extensive research conducted for our third book, Strong Seams, a seam catalogue focused on garment durability and quality. 
We couldn’t include all the research in the book. However, we believe it’s worth sharing with people like you who are also interested in quality and long-lasting garments.

We hope the material is helpful. If you want to know more about our book Strong Seams, please visit the following link: book Strong Seams (link)

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