Soft Fabric Turned Hard And Stiff After Washing

I’m writing from London, England and I’m hoping you’ll be able to help. I bought a denim jacket (on e-bay) last week and when it arrived it was lovely and soft. I washed it in my machine at 40 with some non-bio and some fabric softener. I put it out on the washing line and when it was dry it was really hard and stiff.
Please can you tell me what I have done wrong, and how it can regain the lovely soft feel to the denim?
London has really hard water….. may this be the problem?
Also, I would like it just a little bit lighter – any hints on how to take it down a shade?
thank you very much

Dear Lesley,
For softening effect, I would try the tumble dryer. You can put it on low or no heat if you are concerned about shrinkage. I personally abhor dryer sheets, but they do add loft and softness to stiff garments. You can also wear the jacket a few times to see if body heat and movement soften it up. As for lightening, I would start by washing it with a cup of rock salt. This distresses the denim somewhat and lightens in the process. Remember, you will be undertaking an experiment so don’t be too attached to an exact outcome.
enjoy your jacket!

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