Take the Stretch Out of an Elastic in Clothing

If you have a piece of clothing that just doesn’t seem to be fitting right because of the tight elastic, you can make some quick adjustments to better them for you. Luckily, you can make these adjustments without the use of a sewing machine. You can either stretch the elastic enough so that they fit comfortably, or you can entirely remove the elastic.


Heating the Elastic

  1. Turn on the iron and dampen a cloth. You want your iron on and set to the highest setting. Run a face cloth or hand towel under water until it is damp, but not soaked.
  2. Prepare your pants. You can either pin each side of your pants to the ironing board—stretched to the desired length. Or, you can simply slide the pants around the ironing board until they are the proper width.
  3. Place the damp cloth over your elastic. Make sure it completely covers the elastic that you’re trying to stretch out. If needed, use two cloths.
  4. Iron the elastic. With the damp cloth on top of your elastic band and your iron on the highest setting, iron over it. Iron for 10 seconds and then let sit for 10 seconds. Continue doing so for 5-10 minutes. This will help your pants fit because as the elastic heats, it will heightens the breaking weight. This means that it will be able to stretch more before reaching its limit.[1]
  5. Repeat as necessary. If it hasn’t’ stretch enough, try flipping your elastic band and repeat the process. Do so until you reach your desired fit.[1]

Stretching the Elastic

  1. Find a chair. If you have a chair that is the right size to stretch the elastic, that will work perfectly. If you don’t have a chair that’s the right size, you can try using the side of a small table, an empty drawer, or an empty poster frame.
  2. Stretch your elastic clothing over your chair. If you can, line up the sides with the side of the chair. This will help stretch the elastic evenly.
  3. Let it sit. Let your elastic sit, being stretched, for 24 hours. If the desired size still isn’t reached, put the elastic back in the stretched position and leave it for several days. Leave it in a warm place to help the elastic band stretch.[2]

Removing the Elastic

  1. Turn the clothing inside out. This will make it much easier to work with. Plus, you will be less likely to make an error with your scissors if you can see what you’re doing.
  2. Find the inside seam. Sometimes, elastics are sewn into the seam of clothing. If this is the case, you won’t be able to pull the elastic out of them if you cut the somewhere other than the seam. Find the seam by holding on one side of the seam and stretching the other side. If you feel the elastic shift, you are free to cut wherever you’d like. If you feel it snag at the seam, make sure to cut here.
  3. Put a small slit on the inside of you clothing. To remove the elastic band from your clothing, make a slit (around ½”). If the elastic is sewn into the seam, you’ll have to cut the seam the size of the elastic.[3]
  4. Cut the elastic. Use scissors to go through your slit and cut the elastic. Cut through the entire elastic without cutting any more holes in your clothes.[4]
  5. Pull the elastic out. Slowly pull the elastic out, being careful not to catch a lose string and bunching your fabric. Once the elastic is out, your clothes are ready to wear.
    • You can sew the slit closed if you want to, but it’s not a necessary step before you wear your clothes.


  • If you’re not comfortable with an at-home way to stretch out the elastic, find a tailor or seamstress to help you.

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Sources and Citations