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You cannot find anything more comfortable to wear than super soft vintage tees. Not only it gives you an instant cred on the street, especially if your tee happens to be from a cool genre, but also the fabric feels so soft and light on your skin, it almost feels like it’s caressing you throughout the wearing period.
But if going to flea markets or second-hand shops isn’t your thing, how do you get a T-shirt that’s comfy like an old one? Simple. Make your brand new T-shirts feel old to touch. How do you do it? 3 words. “Soften T-shirts”
If you’re anything like me, you might have 1 or 2T-shirts in the drawer which you put on frequently. If only every T-shirt were that soft. Sigh.
Fortunately, the folks here learned a technique that can turn any t-shirt – doesn’t matter if it’s new or stiff– into a soft, comfy vintage T-shirt.
Below, we will teach you to turn your brand new store bought tees into vintage-y soft tees. Let’s start with the selection of the T-shirt.
Step 1: Choosing the shirt.
You can choose any T-shirt to make a vintage-y T-shirt, but the experienced people suggest to use a T-shirt 1 size larger than what normally fits you, because there is possibility that the fabric will shrink when you put it through the softening process.
Step 2: Prepare a mixture of the ingredients you will soak the fabric in.
You can make 3 types of mixtures.
- Salt and Water mixture
- Vinegar and Water mixture
- Salt and Washing Soda mixture
To turn your new T-shirt into a comfy, soft T-shirt, you need to create
- A mixture of water and salt, for¼ water, you will need about½ cup of salt.
- A mixture of Water and Vinegar. For ¼ cup of water, you will need about ½ cup of Vinegar.
- A mixture of washing soda (Sodium Carbonate)and salt. For ¼ cup of washing soda you will need about 2 cups of salt.
In a spacious bucket, mix the ingredients together. Miyong Noh, a garment expert says that “salt does the work of abrasion, which makes the shirt look old, and the washing soda breaks down the shirt and removes the coating which keeps it crisp, stiff and new.”
As for salt and vinegar, Professor of Home Products, Ingrid Johnson says that the salt and vinegar opens up the fibers, currently working in Fashion Institute of Technology. He also added that "The mixture adds volume to the cotton, much like you add volume to your hair.”
Step 3: Let your shirt soak in the mixture.
Submerge your shirt in the mixture and let it be there for 6-7 minutes. Johnson speaks, "Some people will tell that your T-shirt should be in it overnight, nonsense, all the magic is done in just 6-7 minutes".
This process works on cottons, cotton-poly mix fabrics, and modals. He explains that the "Modals will turn into the softest of the bunch".
Step 4: Time for machine wash.
Put the T-shirt or T-shirts and a towel into your washing machine to wash them. The water should be on the highest temp. “The fibers are weakened by the heat ,” Noh added. Pour in the salt/vinegar/soda mixture with the regular detergent powder/liquid.Then let your machine do the work.
Step 5: Dry the cloth on high heat.
After the washing machine does its work, put the shirt in the dryer and set the highest heat setting. Run it as long as possible, 60 minutes should do the trick. Check out our heat press machine article, if you are interested.
Step 6: Repeat the same process 4-5 times.
For this you’ll need more batches of the mixture you used. Repeat the same process again, for 4-5 times. All the procedures are same as before. After every wash, dry on high heat. Keep repeating the process until you get your desired softness.
Step 7: Remove all the logos.
The final trick to make any T-shirt look and feel truly vintage-y, is to distress the graphic logo on the fabric.It will most likely be intact even after running it through the process 5 times. You can use fine-grit sandpapers to achieve this. Take a piece of the sandpaper and stroke on the logo in a circular motion until the material of the logo which is plastisol, comes off just a bit not the whole.
Now you know how. But do you know why? Ever wondered why is that we need to soften the T-shirts we wear? And why we go through the process of washing so many times?
Let me tell you, only one word, that is “comfort”. The brand new T-shirts that you bought from the store has a built in coating in its fabric that makes the fabric stiff and crisp. When you wear it for the first few months sometimes the fabric feels it’s scratching on the skin. So irritating isn’t it? But when you wear a soft T-shirt you feel so comfy. This is the most basic reason for softening.
There are more reasons as to why we need softening, such as,
- Softening removes the coating that is in the fabric.
- Softening also removes any chemical which might have been in the fabric for preservation purposes thus keeping you safe from any allergy it might have caused.
- Soft fabrics are more breathable, air flows through it freely.
- Makes you sweat less, keeping you fresh for a longer period.
- You can wear anything like a suit or shirt over it and not feel itch-y under it all the time. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Finally, you should keep in mind that whatever you do, do not destroy the fabric or make it weaker because then you will have lessened the longevity period. So choose a T-shirt with good fabric such as cotton, cotton-poly or modals. Also, remember to choose Sodium carbonate as your washing soda and follow the steps carefully. Good luck!