Vintage fabric faded and soft with loose fibers and seams for the quintessential vintage look and feel.

DIY Soft Vintage Feel: How to break in a new shirt

Tenderize your tee. If you pine after the feeling of soft vintage cotton or love the way worn in fabric hangs on your body, you can speed up the aging process in new clothes (or just buy vintage clothing to start with). But to focus on new clothing or slightly used clothing, you can break in the fabric by recreating the reactions of wearing the garment day in and day out.

Note: this process works best with 100% cotton shirts.

Steps of how to break in your clothing

  1. Fill a bucket full of warm water (some formulas add lemon juice or vinegar - but it is not entirely necessary).
  2. Add ½ cup of table salt, and sirr till it is dissolved. Multiply the added ingredients based on each litre of water used (1 litre of water = ½ cup of salt).
  3. Optional, add a splash of clear vinegar.
  4. Optional, twist and turn the shirt in the solution or if the bucket is large enough to prevent overflowing, you can hit the shirt as if you were tenderizing meat.
  5. Leave the shirt in the solution for 1 day (if you have open space you can leave it either in the sun or shade and if you want a greater effect, leave it in the solution for longer and manipulate the shirt while in the solution more often).
  6. Optional, wash the shirt on a washing board if you have one or wash it in the sink with pumice stones (be careful not to tear holes into the shirt, unless that is the look you are going for).
  7. If you do not have the materials to make step six a reality feel free to thoroughly wash the shirt in your hands or machine wash the shirt and either hang to dry or machine dry the shirt.

Honestly you can add to this process as you see fit, the salt and/or vinegar loosens the cotton fibers and textile weave, the pumice stones or any twisting and turning of the shirt you do with your hands stretches and contracts the fabric to help break in the seams and hems to create a worn-in feeling and look.

Experiment with the steps above to find the perfect formula for your desired shirt qualities. Beware, lemon juice or anything acidic may affect the color of the shirt if left in the solution for extended periods of time. Also, leaving the shirt in a sunny spot will fade the colors and graphics - however if you have read this far, that is most likely exactly what you are trying to accomplish.