Without a doubt, my favorite article of clothing is a good vintage t-shirt. Nothing can really compare to a t-shirt passed down from previous generations, worn and loved to almost transparent softness, with holes in all the right places. I have a couple that belonged to my parents that have achieved this perfect quality, but some shirts are a bit more stubborn. I tried out the following remedy to break in a recent thrift store find more to my liking, and am happy to report that it actually worked!
What you need:
Washing Soda (can be found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores)
Sandpaper or Heavy Duty Scouring Pads
Combine one cup of salt with ¼ cup washing soda. Together these will work to break down the fibers of the shirt and reduce stiffness. Put the shirt in the wash – to save on water, include the shirt in other loads of items that you want to soften in the same way (other t-shirts, towels, sheets, etc.). I’ve actually been working on this project for a couple of weeks now, because you’ll want to put the shirt through this cycle about 3-5 times depending on results. Run the wash on high heat, and add the salt/washing soda mixture when the water is almost finished filling the machine. Then, dry on high heat.
For my shirt, I ran it through the wash and dry cycle twice, and then used the scouring pad to destruct the label. It was easier to get results after the shirt had already been worn down a bit by the wash. I also used the scouring pad on the neckline and the edges of the sleeves, creating tiny holes.
Once you’re happy with how the label and holes look, put the shirt through the wash cycle one or two more times. I wish I could include fabric samples in this post so you could feel the results, but it is definitely much softer and the holes look completely natural! If you have any other methods for breaking in a t-shirt let me know.
More DIY projects from BLDG 25