Denim Too Tight? Here's How to Stretch Your Jeans


Do you know how to stretch jeans? We only ask because it's actually a common question that we get when people find their denim is a little tight. Perhaps you've overindulged over the festive period (hey, we all do it) or maybe they've accidentally shrunk in the wash. Whatever has happened to your trusty blues, it's an important life skill to know how to fix it.

Denim can be a fickle creature, and sometimes upon buying the perfect pair, you need to do your research into washing jeans, how the sizing differs from brand to brand and how often you should wear them. Jeans can fit differently every time you put them on, and because of all that, sometimes (sadly), your old favourites just don't fit right anymore.


(Image credit: The Street Pie)

Whether your denim has become ridiculously stretched out and the jeans are way too big, or they've shrunk down to a microscopic version of their former selves and you can barely squeeze into them, we have answers. Luckily, there are actually some very reliable fixes for the common denim dilemma. Keep scrolling for six handy tips on how to deal with your jeans that don't fit anymore.

If the Jeans Are Too Big…


Wash Them in Hot Water
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

If your jeans have gotten a little stretched out, just throw them in a standard wash cycle on the hottest setting. This method works best if your jeans are made of a denim that's as close to 100% cotton as possible. Word to the wise: Don't use any fabric softener.


Dry Them With a Hot Setting
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

After you're done washing them on a hot cycle, toss them in the dryer, and turn it to the hot setting. All the heat will constrict the fibres in the denim, making your jeans snugger than they were before.


Sew a Small Piece of Elastic Onto the Waistband
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

If it's the waistband of your jeans that is a little too loose, then try this handy trick: Sew a six-inch piece of elastic from a fabric store into the inside of your waistband on the back. Follow this useful guide to the proper sewing technique, and watch the magic unfold.

If the Jeans Are Too Tight…


Spray Them With Water, Then Pull to Stretch
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

This trick is the easiest way to try to stretch out a pair of jeans that have shrunk. Spray them with lukewarm water, and then lay the jeans out on the floor. Stand on each leg of the jeans, bend down, and use your hands to manually pull and stretch the jeans while they are wet. Feel free to pull them in any and all directions, reapplying the lukewarm water as needed.


Sit in a Warm Bath While Wearing the Jeans
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

This one might sound a little crazy, but it works. Put on the jeans that are too snug, fill a bath with warm water and sit in it. The warm (not hot!) water will help loosen and stretch the threading a bit. This one you will need to do in advance, as the jeans need time to air-dry when you're done. Note: Do not put them in the dryer (even on a low setting) after doing this.


Carefully Remove the Waistband
(Image credit: The Street Pie)

This technique is a bit more advanced, but it's great if you want to get crafty. Rip the side seams of your jeans about two to three inches down, and then cut the waistband at the same place. You'll then add a separate piece of denim (or some other material like leather) to expand the waist of your jeans. Need some help with this technique? This picture guide shows the process step by step.

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Meghan Blalock
Managing Editor

Hailing from the heart of the South and cutting her teeth on the mean streets of New York, Meghan has six years of experience covering fashion, style, celebrities, culture, and human behavior. A longtime devotee of rap music, tacos, and generally perfect weather, she is excited to put down roots in Los Angeles. Her top three style staples are a good pair of cutoff shorts, virtually any kind of colorful digi-print, and a solid set of shades.