Shed that sausage-casing style -- a too-tiny wardrobe can make anyone's sides split, whether with laughter or with the strain of a squeezing waistband. You don't need to send your too-small shorts packing to save face, however. An accidental hot water wash or ill-advised sizing guess can still reap style rewards without the torment. Stretch undersized shorts back to their original shapes -- or just a little larger -- to fashion yourself the perfect fit.

Step 1

Fill a sink with 1 quart of cool water. Add 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo or conditioner, and agitate the water with your hand to disperse it.

Step 2

Immerse the shorts in the sink, then let them soak flat so that the shampoo penetrates all fibers.

Step 3

Trace a better-fitted pair of shorts onto a piece of parchment paper or corkboard with a pencil. Lay the paper or board out on a counter or table.

Step 4

Drain the sink and rinse the shorts under the faucet. Fill the sink again, and let the shorts soak for five minutes.

Step 5

Drain the sink. Squeeze the excess water from the shorts.

Step 6

Lay the shorts flat on the parchment paper or corkboard, inside the traced lines. Place a hand in the center of the shorts, then carefully tug the outside edges of the shorts outward and all the way around the garment.

Step 7

Fill the tank of a handheld garment steamer with water, then turn it to a moderate setting. Direct the nozzle toward the shorts to steam them, then stretch the outside edges again.

Step 8

Repeatedly steam and stretch the shorts by hand until they match the drawn outline. If working with a knit fabric on corkboard, secure the edges with push pins. If not, anchor the garment edges with paperweights or other heavy objects.

Step 9

Allow the shorts to dry completely before moving them.


  • Dry cleaners can also stretch garments when steaming.