Shrinking a leather jacket?

Discussion in 'How To Info' started by Tom in Atlanta, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. Tom in Atlanta

    Tom in Atlanta Member

    Messages:
    46
    Hi Guys:
    For those of you who have had success in shrinking leather jackets by wetting them and then drying them in the dryer, how wet did you get them and how long did you dry them? Did you use hot water? Dry them in a pillow case or something similar? Any special do's or don'ts?
    Thanks and best regards,
    Tom
     
  2. Steve27752

    Steve27752 Active Member

    Messages:
    972
    Location:
    Berkshire, U.K.
    Don't do it. It is fraught with danger.......................The leather and lining will shrink at different rates.
     
  3. Rutger

    Rutger Active Member

    Messages:
    1,281
    Location:
    Hengelo, Netherlands
    Check type of leather. Horse should work well, other types may not at all.
    Measure back length, shoulders, sleeves. Write measurements down. Feel how it fits, also if it allows movement. You won't want too much shrinkage. Also keep in mind that when bought from new, the arms will contract from wearing, like half an inch or so, so hwt-ing a brand new jacket can be a bit tricky.
    Zip it up, spray with warm water (not very hot, the droplets will cool quite a bit while being sprayed on. I think cold water would do almost just as well). I made sure to keep the lining, cuffs and waist totally dry.
    Spray so it feels pretty soaked, but not entirely through. You may want to spray the epaulets on the lower side as well to prevent it from curling. It will feel quite a bit heavier and very supple. Some people put it on, zip it up and take it under the shower. Probably about the same, but it doesn't allow you to apply water in a more defined method. Mabe I'm too careful or chicken.
    Put it in a pillow cover, put that into the air dryer, get a cycle that's the lowest possible warmth and tumble until fairly dry. No longer heavy, not wet to the touch but still a bit supple. Occasionally check temperature. Put it on and let the rest of the moisture dissipate through wear and air. Walking, doing things etcetera. The fit can be judged while doing so.
    Check measurements. Repeat if necessary, tune dryer warmth to get some extra warmth at defined intervals.
    Be very conservative at applying warmth. Some jackets have been mistreated enormously. I wouldn't aim at getting the sleeves shorter by an inch just through HWT; that's when you get to the bubble-type of sleeves and linings that are way too big. Half an inch would be more what I'd aim at.

    This is how I did it and it worked well, others may have had different experiences.
     
  4. John Lever

    John Lever Moderator

    Messages:
    6,256
    Location:
    Southern England
    For subtle shrinking just leave it out for a few days in hot sunshine.
     
  5. ausreenactor

    ausreenactor Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,582
    Location:
    Mildura, heart of the Mallee.
    I would just consume lots of beer and chocolate? Problem solved!

    Good luck with it 'either way'....
     
  6. John Lever

    John Lever Moderator

    Messages:
    6,256
    Location:
    Southern England
    That's called lateral thinking or even literal thinking if you over do the beer part.
     
  7. Tom in Atlanta

    Tom in Atlanta Member

    Messages:
    46
    Thanks guys. I quite like the chocolate and beer idea, not to mention that results are guaranteed and it may prove less risky than an attempted hot water shrink! Seriously though, once I get an idea in my head I'm usually not satisfied until I give it a try, so I'll probably take your other advise and tread lightly.
    Best Regards,
    Tom
     
  8. derleicaman

    derleicaman Member

    Messages:
    308
    Location:
    Buffalo Grove, IL
    I've tried various methods of HWT, with the extreme being the shower head and clothes dryer.

    I found I could achieve better results with a spray bottle of hot water and then putting the jacket out in the hot sun. In the winter, I would consider the clothes dryer, but you really have to be on top of it to control the effect. Its also a good idea to try and wear the jacket a bit after wetting down with the spray bottle.
     
  9. Tim P

    Tim P Active Member

    Messages:
    2,002
    Location:
    Birmingham UK
    A slightly too big jacket is way better than a shrunken dried out prune that has shrunk unevenly.

    But it's yours, do as you like of course..... ;)
     
  10. CBI

    CBI Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,281
    using a dryer can lead to lots of shrinkage depending on the leather. I have had jackets shrink 1 size down and sometimes so it seems, a little more.
     
  11. unclegrumpy

    unclegrumpy Active Member

    Messages:
    1,361
    You never said what kind of jacket and leather you were trying to shrink.
     
  12. Tom in Atlanta

    Tom in Atlanta Member

    Messages:
    46
    One is a horsehide A2 purchased cheap from USW a good many years ago. It could probably stand to shrink nearly a whole size. The other is a goatskin "Indy" style of unknown origin, but a nice, solidly built jacket. The latter only needs the sleeves shortened a bit.
    Tom
     
  13. tahonng

    tahonng New Member

    Messages:
    11
    How did it finally turn out. I just saw a vintage G1 on ebay that I'm thinking of shrinking.
     
  14. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,693
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Just a guess but I think sleeves can be shortened without water.

    I'll do it for air fair and shipping of my machine. The work would be completely free!
     
  15. tahonng

    tahonng New Member

    Messages:
    11
    The length can't though. Being on the shorter side, this is my concern.

    It's something that I'm hesitant to do, for sure, The leather might shrink, but zipper won't . Will the knits? Can those be stretched out? Will the lining fit well, or will it now bunch up because it's covering less jacket? Getting a custom one made is the only real option to getting a perfect fitting jacket, but is it worth it when there are all these jackets that come close?
     
  16. FlyingYankee

    FlyingYankee Member

    Messages:
    739
    What he said. Horsehide shrinks naturally when you wear it in wet weather.
     
  17. bretron

    bretron Member

    Messages:
    445
    Location:
    Cascadia, USA
    I recently did this to a GW with great success. The jacket was about one size too big in every way and it shrunk about one size in every way... Hot water soak for about 10-15mins, agitating the leather by hand to ensure even saturation. Then drip dried it on a bunch of towels. Then threw the jacket and towels in the dryer at low. Checked the jacket about every 10 mins for size and leather damage. Basically let it go till the jacket was all but dry, pulled it out an let it dry laying flat for about 24 hrs. Then applied a modest dressing of Pecards. The grain is insane and the fit is spot on imo.
     

Share This Page