After we shared how to unshrink your clothes, we were asked if it was possible with pants—so, naturally, we went to find out. Adjusting your pants’ waistline is especially helpful if you’re someone like me, whose waist tends to sit right in between most factory-grade sizes. Of course, you can work with a tailor to get custom-made pants or get your store-bought pants let out a little, but if you just need a little more room, you can try stretching them out at home for a little more breathing room.
How to stretch the waistline of elastic band pants
Elastic waistbands have a lot of stretch in them, but they also have a limit. If that limit is just a tad too tight, you can use an iron to stretch the elastic band a little more. Kipkis gives detailed instructions on stretching them out—all you need is an iron, ironing board, and a couple of washcloths.
First, you want to pull the elastic pants around the ironing board so they stay taut. Feel free to use pins if that helps keep the pants in place. Then, turn your iron to the highest setting and place a warm, damp washcloth on the elastic band. Press the iron down for about ten seconds, then let the pants rest for another ten seconds. Repeat that process for five to ten minutes, working your way around the waistband. The waist will have stretched, and you can start the process again and as many times as needed to stretch them as far as they’ll go.
How to stretch the waistline of your slacks
Slacks are a bit different than an elastic waistband, as the fabric might be flexible but not nearly as stretchy as sweatpants or leggings. They’ll vary widely, but you can still use an iron to loosen the waist.
Begin the same way you would with elastic waistbands by stretching the pants on the ironing board. You can also use the back of a chair, a cutting board, or another hard heat-resistant surface. Dampen the pants with a spray bottle or sponge so that they’re visibly damp, then put the iron on the steam setting and iron along the waistline. At the same time, tug and pull on the pants’ waist, stretching them as you go along. Try on the pants to check the size, and repeat as needed.
How to stretch the waistline of your jeans
Denim is an even tougher material than slacks, but it still stretches with a little help. Tips Bulletin shows several ways to stretch out the waistline of your jeans, including going the uncomfortable route of getting in the bathtub with them and wearing wet clothes.
If you want to go that route, fill the tub with warm water and get in with your jeans on and buttoned, and make sure your pants are completely soaked before getting out. Afterward, towel dry and walk around for half an hour doing lunges, squats, or anything else to stretch out the pants and waist.
You can also try the same ironing technique used for slacks, which is probably a lot less uncomfortable. Just put the jeans on and moisten them with warm water using a spray bottle or washcloth. Then take the jeans off and stretch them around a hanger inside their waistline, making sure the hanger is wide enough to stretch out a little. Let your pants dry on the hanger, and try them on for again and repeat with a larger hanger, if needed.