How to Stretch Shorts

Heat makes woven and knit fabrics tighten temporarily.
... Jupiterimages/ Images

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Allow the shorts to dry completely before moving them.

  • Dry cleaners can also stretch garments when steaming.

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.