General Question

Tennis5tar's avatar

What will stop my t-shirts twisting when I wash them?

Asked by Tennis5tar (1255 points ) May 11th, 2008

The seams don’t run down the sides any more, they sort of twist so that they are visible at the back and the front at the bottom of the t-shirt

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13 Answers

wildflower's avatar

It’s a matter of quality of the fabric – and is often indicated by the price. I think low-cost logo’d shirts are more likely to do this.
Some t-shirts are made from stretched or loosely woven/knitted cotton and it may lose it’s shape. Others are made from good quality cotton, but not cut straight (in line with the fibers) and they may ‘warp’ too.
The best way to avoid it is to dry them flat so that you can shape them while still wet and let them dry that way.

Tennis5tar's avatar

That makes a lot of sense. Re-shaping them doesn’t seem to work when I hang them, I’ll try drying them flat. Thanks again!

Seesul's avatar

Wildflower is correct. It has to do with both the fabric quality and the direction that they were cut. You are supposed to line fabric up in the direction of the grain (way it was woven) in most cases. If it is even a little bit off, the fabric will twist that way when washed and then dried. The fabric quality has to do with the type of cotton used and the thickness of the fiber. The natural length of the fiber can vary as well and in general, the longer the better (as in sheets). When processing, they comb the fibers to align them and then twist them into strands (in older days done on a spinning wheel). Those strands can then be added to other strands, strengthening and thickening it more before weaving or knitting into fabric. Generally a thicker fabric will have less distortion if cut off the grain, but it still will have some and it depends on how off it is.

To keep printed tees longer, wash inside out in cold or at the most warm water, and then air dry. Cotton shrinks with any heat whatsoever, which is another reason for washing in cold and air dryer. As an aside, cotton is the only natural fiber that is stronger wet than dry. They used that fact in a scene from Shanghai Noon.

syz's avatar

There are also “delicates” bags (made out of a mesh material) that you could wash them in – that may help.

mcbealer's avatar

Wash your shirts inside out in lower volume of water on the delicate cycle. When the load is done, hang the shirt to dry, say in your bathroom. Once dry, you can use a warm iron to iron the shirt, while still inside out. You can then flip it right side out and iron the sleeves, so you have a crease. Lookin’ good!

Seesul's avatar

mcbeater I hate ironing so much (born in the days before permanent press), so I spent my childhood ironing blouses for my school uniform and the absolute terror of my HS gym suit (they replaced them with perm press the next year, I plan to donate it to the school archives as a museum piece) that I forgot to add that. Ironing will work and sometimes by taking a thin rag soaked in while vinegar and steaming it over the seams will place them back in line for a while, maybe even a few wash cycles. You can also use this trick to re-crease pants that way, especially if the crease is off from the manufacturer. Again, this is usually a cutting error, The item was cut away from the manufactured fold of the fabric and the memory of the fabric keeps trying to find it.

If you should decide to iron a tee shirt, be very careful, better yet avoid, any decal on the shirt. It is put on with heat and an iron can remove it.

Tennis5tar's avatar

I can iron it, but the seams don’t line up without me having to stretch the T. I think it must be a quality thing… Oh well. I learnt something new today though!!!

Seesul's avatar

Yup, most likely to was cut off the grain. Something you usually can’t figure out until you wash the tee. My son has a few shirts like that and they really frustrate me when folding them. Now I just try the best I can and let it go because I know there isn’t anything I can do about it. It’s actually a really great question and most people don’t realize why that happens if they haven’t actually made a garment from scratch. It can be a tedious part of the process until you get the hang of it, but when factory made, they have thick stacks of material, place the pattern on the top and then cut the fabric with jigsaw-like cutting devices. If even one layer slips or isn’t properly placed, the final garment will be out of alignment. I believe the show “How It’s Made” shows the process in at least one of their shows, with blue jeans.

mcbealer's avatar

T-shirt decals can be ironed on the reverse side with no probs.

Spargett's avatar

Pay more for better quality clothes. Its an investment, and you’re not supporting child/adult sweatshop (slave) labor.

Just because you aren’t experiencing it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Seesul's avatar

First of all, yes, decals can be ironed on the wrong side and shouldn’t be ironed on the right side and I should have mentioned that. If they MUST be ironed, use a press cloth (thin piece of material such as a handkerchief) between the iron and the decal. I cautioned because there STILL can be problems with some decals, especially on lower quality shirts or decals. If the temp of the iron is too hot, you can end up with the decal transferring off and end up with a mess somewhere, not to mention a ruined shirt. They were put on with a controlled heat process in the first place, so they can come off or ruined with it. Home irons are usually not as high quality as the more expensive professional ones and the thermostats are more likely to go bonkers with us (have you ever used an iron in a hotel, great example). That is why suggested avoiding it. Better to be safe than sorry, as the old saying goes.

As for Sparg’s comment, oh how I wish that were true and more money equalled better quality, and no sweat shops, but sadly, it’s not that simple and doesn’t necessarily hold true. Sweatshops can turn out high quality products because the people working in them have life or death depending on the quality of work they turn out. Really tough problem and even “Made in the USA” does not guarantee it wasn’t made in a sweat shop here.

mghb's avatar

a laundry bag

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