Do hemp clothes shrink? The long and short of it.

Do hemp clothes shrink? The long and short of it.

Posted by Rose on 25th Feb 2022

All about the shrinkage factor in my hemp and Tencel styles as well as some strategies for minimizing it.

One of the realities of working with natural fibers is that they can vary a little or a lot when it comes to shrinkage factors. Knowing this, clothing makers when creating patterns allow for an average amount of shrinkage in a given garment and fabrication. But as I once was told by a customer who ordered four pairs of pants in the same style, size and length from a major manufacturer, they all differed in length significantly.

I’m grateful my hemp/Tencel fabric supplier delivers consistent quality with little variation in shrinkage rates.

Her experience isn’t really surprising. There are a lot of variables determining how a specific garment and fiber combination may shrink. Those variables start with the fiber itself—how it’s spun, woven, or knitted. Take cotton, for instance. You might see shrinkage rates as little as zero on garments treated with resins and other chemicals designed to eliminate or minimize shrinkage. You could also experience shrinkage up 12 percent or more as we often did back in the day with those gauzy cotton tops imported from India.

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How about Sympatico’s fabric?

The good news for Sympatico fans is that the shrinkage rate varies far less than with the extremes mentioned above. I love my fabrics for their easy-care and comfort attributes. The margin of variation in shrinkage rates in Sympatico garments falls well below industry standards (that range up to 7%). My fabric supplier has proven to be very reliable over the years in delivering high-quality goods that shrink well below industry standards. But some variation occurs due to the tension involved in the weaving process, and even rolling the fabric can influence shrinkage rates. So to be sure, before cutting, sewing, and dyeing, I test wash and dry every fabric batch.

Speaking of dyeing, that too can impact shrinkage. Other than Sympatico's undyed Natural styles, all garments are dyed using fiber reactive dyes that for some colors require warm water. More significantly, my dyer dries the garments in an industrial machine, which usually results in any residual shrinkage being taken up. 

If you happen to need a length that’s on the “long” side, just let me know and I’ll try to make sure your garment meets your needs I also offer custom lengths on many Sympatico items—you’ll find the details here.

Even spreading fabric on the cutting table can effect shrinkage rates if it’s not done well.

Shrinking the shrinkage factor even more

How you launder your Sympatico clothes can not only minimize shrinkage; it can also help the planet. Washing your Sympatico clothing in cool or cold water is wise as is air drying when it comes to keeping our impact to a minimum. Your clothes will last longer too. According to a study by Proctor and Gamble, 75 - 80 percent of the energy consumed by clothing occurs post-manufacturing, We can definitely help put a dent in that number by being laundry-smart. You’ll find lots of tips here about how to lessen your washday impact. 

hemp - Tencel tops for women. womens hemp - Tencel skirtswomens hemp - Tencel pants