How to Full a Knitted Fabric by Machine

By Pam Allen, Shannon Okey, Tracy Barr, Marly Bird

To full a knitted fabric you just need some hot water, a little soap, and a lot of agitation in order to make it shrink, turning it into a fabric that’s denser, stronger, and warmer!

You can full a project in a top-loading washing machine or a front-loading machine, as long as the machine lets you open the door to check on the project. Just follow these steps:

  1. Set the washer on a hot water/cold rinse cycle, no spin, and minimum size load.

    Folds caused by the spin cycle are hard to remove.

  2. Dissolve soap in the water.

    You don’t need a lot of soap — just enough to generate some suds on the fabric.

  3. Place the project in a pillowcase or pillow cover and either zip it shut or close it with a heavy-duty elastic.

    This cover catches fibers that come off in the washing process so they don’t clog your machine.

  4. Place the pillowcase in the washer and wash.

  5. Check the fulling process every 1 to 5 minutes.

    The length of time required to full your project depends on your machine, soap, and local water conditions. Check frequently. As you do more fulling, you’ll get used to the amount of time your machine takes to do the work, and you can adjust that time as needed, but be vigilant. Don’t get distracted and stray away from the washing machine, or you could come back to a ruined project.

    The fulling process is irreversible. You can always full a little more, but you can’t unfull! Remove the project before it’s too late. If the project starts to full unevenly, you can always finish the fulling process by hand.

    If the stitches pull apart easily, then the process isn’t complete. If you find that the fibers of your project aren’t meshing together well, add a couple of tennis balls, old jeans, or shoes to the basin of the washing machine. These items act as additional agitators and help the fibers interlock.

  6. When the fulling is complete, rinse out the soap in cold water. Do not use the spin cycle.

  7. Roll the project in a towel to soak up any remaining moisture.

  8. Lay the project out flat on a dry towel, away from sunlight, to air-dry.