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How To Make Pants Bigger Around The Waist

Do you feel like your pants squeeze you in half every time you button them? Maybe you’re suffering from post-holiday bloat and suddenly all your clothes seem too small. Whatever the cause, you are here to find out how to make your pants bigger around the waist!

You can make your pants bigger around the waist using either stretching or sewing techniques. The easiest way to widen the waistband of your pants is to stretch the fabric to make it looser. You can also make more permanent alterations with scissors and a sewing machine.

Keep reading to find out the quickest and easiest ways to make your pants looser as well as the best permanent fixes for a too-tight waistband.


How To Make Pants Bigger Around The Waist

Can Pants/Jeans Be Tailored at the Waist?

With enough skill and patience, any style of pants, including jeans, can be tailored to either expand the waistband.

You can make these alterations yourself if you have a sewing machine, though you should brace yourself for a result that may not look perfect. If you want your altered pants to look pristine, you probably need to go to a professional tailor.

How To Make Pants Bigger Around the Waist?

You can use many different tricks to loosen the waistband of your pants, depending on what kind of pants you have and whether or not you want to try sewing.

Some of the techniques that work best include stretching the waistband of your pants while the pants are wet, sewing elastic into the waistband, and even buying special waistband stretchers.

The easiest way to expand the waistband of your pants is to stretch it physically. You can use some tricks to make this task a cinch, all of which are described below.

If you have a sewing machine, you can opt for a more permanent fix by cutting and re-sewing your pants to alter them.

How to Make Pants Waistband Bigger Without Sewing

How to alter pants waist larger

The simplest way to loosen the waistband of your pants without sewing is to physically stretch the fabric. You should try this first. If stretching doesn’t work, you only wasted a few minutes, and you can move on to another method.

Warm Water Soak Method

This method sounds so simple that it’s hard to believe it actually works! Next time you wash your jeans or trousers, pause the washing machine cycle after the first warm rinse. (You could also soak the pants in a bathtub).

Remove the pants from the wash, grab hold of opposite ends of the circle of the waistband, and pull firmly. Rotate the waist through your hands, pausing to tug every couple of inches.

Many types of fabric can shrink in the wash. This firm tugging should expand the material and give you a bit of breathing room at the waist.

Spray Bottle While Wearing Method

If you are desperate to get out the door and find that your pants won’t button, give this last-minute rescue method a try!

Put on the pants and get them as close to closing as you can. Next, fill a spray bottle with warm water and spritz the pants all over, but give the waist a decent soaking.

Try firmly pulling the waist closed. Hopefully, the warm water will give the fabric a tiny bit of stretch, and the pants will settle into the shape of your body as they dry.

Clothes-Hanger Method

If you would like a stretching method that requires less manual labor, try using a sturdy clothes hanger! You will need to find a hanger that is just a bit too long to fit easily inside the waistband circle.

Begin this method by either soaking or spraying your pants with warm water. Make sure the fastening (buttons, zipper, etc.) are closed.

Then stretch the waist tightly over the hanger. You should barely be able to squeeze the hanger inside the waist, creating a taunt, straight line across the waist.

Make sure the pants are dry before removing the hanger.

Steaming Method

For another variation on the stretching theme, try using a handheld steamer to warm and dampen your trousers.

Please do not do this while wearing the pants! It is easiest to suspend your pants from a hanger, steam them all over, and then begin the circular stretching method described above.

If you don’t own a handheld steamer, you can put your iron on a steam setting and iron the pants before embarking on the stretching session.

Hair Elastic

This less-than-elegant solution may offer you the temporary solution you need.

Thread a regular-sized hair elastic through the buttonhole on your pants. Push one end of the elastic through the open loop on the other end of the hair tie. When you pull this tight, the buttonhole should be secured inside the tightened end of the hair elastic.

Finally, wrap the free end of the hair elastic around the button, like a new, enlarged buttonhole!

You probably don’t want to employ this method on the pants you are wearing to a job interview, your friend’s wedding, or an important family gathering. But if you just want to wear last year’s jeans while you work in the garden, this quick fix will give you some breathing room and keep your pants from falling off at the same time!

You can also buy elastic extenders that work the same way–they consist of a button sewn onto a strip of elastic. These extenders work the same way as the hair tie, giving you a bit more stretch between the original button and buttonhole of the pants.

Waistband Stretchers

how to make jeans biggerThere’s a gadget for everything, so of course, someone has invented tools to make stretching out your pants a bit easier! If you would rather spend a few dollars than spend time stretching your pants, you can purchase various tools to make the process easier.

The most popular stretching device, Cowboy Pant Stretcher, looks like a tiny, powerful curtain rod with rounded wooden half-circles at either end. You place this device inside the waistband and twist the rod to lengthen it, forcing the rounded half circles to stretch the pants.

You can also find stretching racks that look a bit medieval, but if you’re desperate to save your pants, you may want to give them a try!

How to Make a Waistband Bigger With Sewing

How to loosen jeans

There are several fairly simple ways to use scissors and a sewing machine to permanently expand the waist of your pants. Anyone with a sewing machine can learn how to alter clothing, but mastering any sewing technique does take practice. You probably don’t want to try this for the first time on your favorite pair of pants.

Side Seams

The most straightforward technique involves inserting a V of extra fabric or elastic at the side seams of the pants. This method is nice because it’s quite simple, but it does leave exposed stitching and an obvious triangle of added fabric at the waist of your pants.

First, remove the belt loops from the side seams. Then either pick out the side seam using a seam ripper or use sharp sewing shears to slice down the seam, opening it up to just a couple of inches below the waist. Pull the seams open to create an open “V” shape.

Find a piece of fabric that matches your pants or jeans as closely as possible. (Alternatively, you can use a strip of extra-wide elastic in place of the fabric for even more stretch).

Cut out a piece of this fabric and fold it in half so that it forms a rectangle that is an inch wider than the top of the V shape in your side seams and about an inch longer than the bottom of the V. Zigzag stitch around the edge of the rectangle to keep it nice.

Place the rectangle inside the open V of the side seam, pin it in place, and zigzag stitch over the open edge of the side seam, sewing down and then back up the sides of the V.

The new fabric should now be sealed inside, filling in the V. For a slightly nicer finish, you can use a serger instead of the zigzag setting on your sewing machine.

Center Back Seam

Many dress pants include extra seam allowance (the material that extends beyond the stitching inside the garment) at the center back seam of the waist. This allows for easy expansion at the waist area.

Rather than adding in a swatch of new fabric, you need to pick out the seam and then sew a new seam closer to the inside edge of the seam allowance.

Professional tailors will probably use this technique if you bring in pants to be enlarged.

Elastic Waistband

Finally, you could also consider removing the waistband from your pants and replacing it with a stretchy elastic waistband. While this style holds less fashion appeal, it will provide long-lasting comfort.

How to Make Jeans Bigger at the Waist

How to Make Jeans Bigger at the Waist

Fabric often shrinks when exposed to heat, and denim is particularly prone to this problem. While this may make you feel better, you can only tell yourself, “Oh, they just shrunk in the wash,” for so long before realizing that you need to take additional steps to make those jeans fit again!

The good news is that you can try all of the stretching methods described above to make your jeans comfier.

You can also try a special technique to regain some mobility in your too-tight jeans. Soak or spray your jeans till they are nice and wet, put them on, and then exercise while wearing them. Be sure to do plenty of squats and lunges to stretch out the fabric!

Some people dislike the stiff feel of jeans left to air dry. However, jeans do shrink in the dryer. If you want to save yourself the hassle of squeezing yourself into too-tight pants, you may want to consider skipping the dryer and hang your jeans outside or in your shower to dry.

If you have a sewing machine, you can also use the alteration methods described earlier to more permanently expand the waistband of your jeans. Sewing on jeans can be challenging, though, so you may not want to attempt this on a pair of two-hundred-dollar jeans. Test the sewing techniques on the jeans you bought at Walmart or Target first!

Finally, if you find yourself in a desperate hurry and you just can’t get your jeans on, try lying down flat on the floor while you pull your jeans up. Then let out your breath before zipping and buttoning. This may feel not very comfortable, but it works!

Button Waist Extender


how to make jeans loose


Button Waist Extender


how to make pants bigger


How to Make Dress Pants Waist Bigger

You probably wear dress pants mostly in settings like the workplace, so unless you plan always to wear a top that extends well below the waist, you should not make any obvious, visible alterations to these pants.

That said, altering the waistband on dress pants can be easier than altering jeans.

First, check the manufacturer’s label inside the pants to determine whether it is safe to wash, steam, or iron the fabric. If it is, you can attempt any of the stretching techniques on your dress pants. Some fabric has more natural give than others, but it’s worth a try!

If stretching is a no-go, ask yourself some tough questions, like how badly you want to fit into these pants? Is it worth getting them professionally tailored?

If you feel brave and own a sewing machine, you can try an at-home alteration for trousers.

The design of many dress pants incorporates extra fabric inside the center back seam. This allows you to unpick the seam and sew a new seam closer to the inside edge of that extra fabric, giving you a bit more room in the circumference of the waistband.

You could also try the sewing technique described earlier, adding two Vs of extra fabric at the side seams, but this will create a visible alteration that is not ideal for a garment you plan to wear to work.

Honestly, if altering the center back seam in your slacks does not provide enough give in the waist, you are probably best off going on a shopping trip for new pants that fit better.

Can A Tailor Make Pants Waist Bigger?

A good tailor can alter the waistband of any pants, including jeans.

Making a garment larger can be more difficult than making it smaller, however. Making pants longer is usually super easy–tailors can drop the hem on a pair of pants faster than you could even plug in your sewing machine at home! But loosening the waist on a pair of jeans is another matter.

Tailors primarily take in garments to fit them to your particular body shape. For example, you may have a pair of jeans that fits perfectly in the seat but gaps a bit at the waist. A good tailor can easily pinch in the jeans’ waist at the center seam so that both the seat and the waist fit you perfectly.

But what about making the waist bigger? High-end dress pants often come with extra fabric built-in, which makes it possible to easily enlarge the waist, expand the thigh area, or lengthen the hem of the pants.

Tailors can also make jeans bigger at the waist, but this is a time-consuming endeavor that may cost more than the jeans are worth. Most tailors will use a process similar to the V-shaped expansion described earlier–but naturally, it will look very sleek when installed by a professional!

How Much Does It Cost to Tailor Pants?

The average cost for a professional pant alteration ranges from $10-$100, depending on the alteration complexity. A tailor will often hem a pair of pants for as little as ten dollars. If you need the waistband of your dress pants altered, though, that will cost more since it takes more time and effort.

You probably want to think about the return on investment before you take your pants to a tailor.

First, how much did the pants cost originally? If these are high-end trousers that you plan to wear forever, you may want to pay a bit extra to make sure they fit you perfectly. However, if you bought them at Target for twenty bucks, you will likely pay more for the alterations than you would buying a new pair of pants that fits better!

Secondly, consider whether or not you can make the alterations yourself. If you want to make your favorite at-home jeans last for a few more years, but they just don’t button like they used to, you may want to try the stretching methods provide earlier.

On the other hand, if you plan to wear a nice pair of wool dress pants to the office, you may want the discrete and effective alterations that a professional does best.

Should You Buy Tight Jeans or Loose Jeans?

Every person has a unique body shape, which can make finding a pair of jeans that fits quite a challenge. The general rule of thumb for buying jeans that fit is that you should be able to slide two fingers into the jeans’ waistband without the waist feeling too tight.

Jeans will naturally expand a tiny bit while you wear them. Some people recommend sleeping in a new pair of jeans to get them through this expansion process quickly. That said, you don’t want to buy a garment of any kind that feels uncomfortable–if they feel too tight in the store, they will feel too tight at home!

Of course, jeans come in many different styles. Skinny jeans should fit you more tightly than boot-cut jeans. No matter what style you prefer, you should not buy jeans that feel like a vise around your waist and hips!

Finally, as mentioned earlier, jeans will shrink if washed in hot water and put in the dryer. To prevent shrinkage, you can either air dry your jeans or use the stretching methods described earlier to reverse the shrinking effect after a wash.

Other Tips to Make Your Pants Fit

How to Make the Hips and Thighs of Your Pants Bigger

Expanding the hips or thighs of your pants in a sleek, unnoticeable way may be too challenging for a novice seamstress.

However, if you don’t mind having a fun and funky alteration to your pants, you can just cut the pants open all down the side seam and sew in a strip of contrasting fabric. This will create a stripe down the pant leg and also give you a bit more room!

How to Make the Waist of Your Pants Smaller

Sometimes you have to buy pants that gap at the waist to fit comfortably in other areas. Don’t worry! Making a waist smaller is easier than expanding it.

You can go to a tailor to get this done professionally. You can also use a seam ripper to separate the waistband from the pants, pick out the center back seam, and then sew it again, taking in a bit more fabric to give the waist a smaller circumference.

How to Hem Your Pants

If you have a few minutes, a needle, and thread that matches your pants, you can easily whip out a few hem stitches to hem your pants properly.

If this level of work seems old-fashioned, you can also buy iron-on hem tape from any sewing store. If you’re desperate, you can duct tape the inside of the hem–it will hold for at least a day.

Whatever you do, please do not make the rookie mistake of using a stapler to hem your pants. This may seem like a quick solution, but the staples will catch the light and look super embarrassing!


Hopefully, you no longer think that you need to go out and buy a new pair of pants!

If you liked the quick-and-easy techniques listed in this article, you can give your pants a quick steaming and stretch the waistband by hand. If you have more time and a sewing machine, you now know how to permanently alter a waistband to make your pants fit you!

Are you ready to try at least a couple of these techniques to make your pants fit you again? Leave a comment below to tell us which method you plan to use!

Victoria Loftin

Saturday 12th of June 2021

Great information! I have a little experience with a sewing machine. I feel like I can try the ideas listed on the old pants that I love. Thanks.