Jeans Don’t Fit Anymore? 6 Hacks to Stretch and Shrink Your Denim

Jeans can be very fickle: They’re all cut differently; even when you buy them from the same brand, the wash changes the sizing; and depending on how you care for them, they fit differently every time you put them on. Because of all that, sometimes, sadly, your old favorites just don’t fit right anymore.

We’ve all been there, and it can be super frustrating. Either the denim has become extremely stretched out and the jeans are way too big or it has shrunk down to a microscopic version of its former self and you can barely squeeze into them. Either way, it’s a total bummer. Luckily, there are actually some very reliable fixes for the common denim dilemma. Armed with these six clever hacks on how to shrink or stretch jeans, you can make sure they always fit like a glove no matter which style you’re wearing

Wash them in hot water. If your jeans have gotten a little stretched out, just throw them in a standard wash cycle, but put it 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. And a word to the wise: Don’t use any fabric softener.

Put them in the dryer on a hot setting. 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 fibers in the denim, making your jeans snugger than they were before.

Sew a small piece of elastic onto the back of the waistband. If it’s the waistband of your jeans that is a little too loose, 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.

Spray them with lukewarm water, then pull to stretch. This trick is the easiest way to try to stretch out a pair of jeans that shrunk down. 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. 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 obviously need to do in advance; allow the jeans to hang dry when you’re done.

Carefully remove the waistband. 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. (This picture guide shows the process step by step!)

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

 Up next, 8 iconic pairs of straight-leg jeans every fashion editor owns or wants to own.