Tips and Things You May Not Know About Your Clothes

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Fabric Swatches

Have you ever purchased an item of clothing and received a little baggy with an extra swatch of fabric? You might have assumed it was to use if you ever needed to mend the item, like by patching a hole.

What you might not have realized is that this extra fabric is actually for you to test washing it to see if it will shrink or if the colors will bleed or fade. That would have been a really good thing to know in my early 20’s.

Shirt Loops

We can thank the Navy for this little convenience. Since sailors didn’t have any closet space to speak of when out to sea, collared shirts were sewn with a loop on the back to easily hang them from hooks.

There was also a trend in the ’60s for men to hang their shirts up in lockers at the gym without getting them all wrinkly during a workout. Also, in the 60s, girls would pull or tear the loops off their boyfriends shirts to notify others he was taken.

For those who wanted to have a loop without ruining a shirt, one mail-order company offered to send just the loops to people in the mail.

Now they’re mostly decorative.

Metal Buttons on Jeans

If you’ve ever put a pair of jeans on straight out of the dryer, you know these little metal buttons exist. Hot! Hot! Hot! But, did you know they’re not just decorative? They’re actually strategically placed in spots to help keep the seams intact.

Mr. Levi Strauss himself took out a patent for rivets in 1829 after miners were complaining their jeans wore out too fast. While they may not always be the most comfortable part of a pair of jeans, they are there for a reason.

Shorts Cost As Much As Pants?

It seems like we should pay less for our shorts than we do fill length pants because there is more cloth. That’s not necessarily the case.

In reality, shorts that don’t fall past your knees may contain just a fifth less fabric than ankle-length trousers. This is because most of the cloth in these items is sewn into the top half.

Those same details that end up accounting for most of the material—flies, pockets, belt loops, waist bands—also require the most human labor to make. This is where the true cost of a garment is determined. The physical cotton in blue jeans accounts for just a small fraction of its price tag. Most of that money goes to pay the people stitching it together, which takes about the same amount of time.

3-Step Guide to Unshrinking Most Clothes

Step 1 – Soak in a Solution of Lukewarm Water & Baby Shampoo

Fill a sink (large bowl or bucket) with lukewarm water then add a capful of baby shampoo to the water.

Place the item you want to unshrink into the sudsy water. Let it soak for a minute or two, then gently knead the item with your hands to help relax the fibers.

Remove the item from the water and gently squeeze it to remove some of the water. (But don’t wring it or rinse it out!)

Step 2 – Absorb Water From Shrunken Clothing with a Towel

Lay out one of your big, clean bath towels and lay the clothing item flat out on top of it.

Roll the towel up from one end so the clothing item is wrapped inside. Press on the towel gently to absorb the excess water, then unroll the towel.

Step 3 – Gently Stretch & Reshape Clothing

Grab your second clean bath towel and lay the damp piece of clothing out on it.

Use your hands to gently stretch the item out to its original size. Finally, leave the clothing item on the towel and allow it to air dry completely.

A Note On Rinsing: You’ll notice the directions don’t mention anything about rinsing out the shampoo water. Actually, this process doesn’t leave very much soap behind in the clothes, and the little soap that does remain seems to help keep the fibers pliable during the stretching process.


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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I have recently discovered that the use of fabric softener will scratch your glasses if you use your shirt to clean them like I do. I was told this by my eye doctor after returning a pair of glasses with scratches on it. Also, fabric softener puts a coating on your towels that wont allow the towels to absorb water. I wondered about the fabric in my towels when attempting to clean up spills. Now that I know all this, I am not using fabric softener anymore. I will probably have to use some in the winter time however to control the static.

    Liked by 1 person

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