Does Cotton Stretch? (How to Stretch Cotton Shirt or Pants)

What is Spandex? 

Spandex is a kind of fabric which provides stretch and elasticity to our clothes. The term "spandex" is not a brand name, and the name used to refer to polyether-polyurea copolymer fabrics that comes after certain production process. The terms spandex, Lycra, and elastane manes the same stretchable fabric that you know of. 

This fabric can stretch to 5-8 times its normal size, and it is commonly used in better fitting clothes. Most clothes though have a small quantity of spandex mixed with other fabrics. 


Why Does Cotton Stretch?

One reason that cotton stretches is that its natural fibers are made to relax through moisture and then they grow bigger. This relaxation can be done in several ways by wearing the cotton clothing whenever possible.

The weight of the water cotton holds will also contribute to the stretching factor. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture over time and that weight will make the fibers grow bigger even when they do not want to.

Then the way cotton is made will contribute to the fabric’s ability to stretch. If blended with a stretch fabric, cotton should stretch out even more. Just treat cotton right and learn some good shrinking actions to bring the clothing back to its smaller size.


  • Try to keep your stretched athletic pants away from heat, or else they may shrink down.[15]

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How to Stretch Pants that Are Too Short

Love your leggings but see that they’re just a tad too short to really look great on you? Try the following to add a bit of length to your gym pants:

5. Wash and Pull

Wash your leggings as usual in a cold water cycle. Before putting them in the dryer, fold your gym pants, leggings or tights in half (left side on the right or vice versa). Using one hand, hold the waistband section and hold the leg bottoms with the other.

Gently tug and pull the ends apart. Without letting go of either end, bring your hands together. Then pull them apart to stretch them lengthwise once again. Repeat the same steps for a minimum of 3-5 times. Make sure you apply quick, hard pulls.

Dry as usual and try them on. Voila! Your leggings should be at the right length this time.

What is Stretchy Cotton Called?

Most people. Many retailers and wholesalers simply call stretchy cotton stretch cotton fabric. But there is another name for this material. The official name is usually Jersey knit or Jersey cotton.

Sometimes it is called knitted cotton or T-shirt cotton but in the end, the different names all point to the fact that this style of cotton fabric can stretch. There is one more name applied to this fabric and that is interlock cotton which is basically a knitted cotton variety.

When cotton is blended with spandex, elastane, or other stretchy materials then it is usually called by the dominant fabrics in the blend. Usually, you will hear words like cotton-spandex blend, or cotton nylon blend, and so on

As long as the material stretches you can call it any name you want. Just do not expect the sales clerk to understand what fabric you are referring to.

Do you provide any video tutorials for How To Stretch Pants?

Surely, we usually offer users the guidance in both posts and video tutorials for How To Stretch Pants. These videos are posted for the user’s reference with more details about the making way. Therefore, you can find by How To Stretch Pants searching on our tool to know more details.

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.

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!

Choosing the Right Fabric

There are many types of fabrics used in making workout clothes, including leggings and tights. If you’re shopping for leggings to wear on casual outings, cotton leggings are highly recommended. Cotton is a soft natural fabric that’s cool and comfortable to wear.

But if you’re looking for performance leggings, opt for ones made with opaque durable, stretchable, breathable and moisture-wicking materials. Some common fabrics you’ll encounter with leggings include blends of different fabrics, including cotton, polyester, nylon, elastane/spandex (aka Lycra – the branded kind) and polyamide.

These types of fabrics are designed not only to mould to your form but also to manage moisture better to keep you feeling cool and dry even as you sweat things out.

Now, here are some quick FAQs we’d like to address concerning fabrics used in athletic wear such as leggings.

  • Does elastane stretch? But it’s usually combined with other fabrics like polyester, cotton or nylon when used in making leggings.
  • Does polyester stretch out? Polyester is a rigid fabric, so it is blended with other fabrics like elastane so it can be used in making sportswear.
  • Does polyester spandex stretch? When polyester is blended with spandex (aka elastane or Lycra), it becomes stretchable. But watch out for cheap brands that use 90% polyester and 10% elastane as this ratio or blend leads leggings to lose their shape faster.
  • Does polyester and elastane stretch? Please refer to the answer above; elastane and spandex refer to the same material. Lycra is the branded version of this super stretchable fabric.

So, how tight should tights (or leggings) fit?

It all boils down to how comfortable you feel when you put them on and how they perform with you when you’re doing yoga or squatting at the gym.

Ways to Stretch Leggings That Are Just Too Tight

There are a number of reasons you might wind up owning leggings that are too tight. If you’ve just bought them, always check the return and exchange policy. But it could be that you’ve gained some weight or that you feel they “fit” but are a little tighter in certain areas than you’d like.

It’s unlikely that you’ll adjust leggings by a full size (if you bought the wrong size, you may be in for another purchase). However, if the leggings are just tighter around some parts of your body, you might be able to help them mold to your shape. So, if you find yourself with too-tight leggings, here are some ways to stretch them.

Just Wear Them

Just like tight shoes, the best way to “break in” tight leggings is to wear them. Elastic will always loosen over time and leggings contain a lot of it (lycra or spandex). When you put them on, they’ll stretch to fit your body and, over time, they’ll relax to hold that shape. The more you wear them, the quicker this will happen. Though, admittedly, if they’re uncomfortable this may feel like a lot to go through (similar to breaking in painful shoes).

To Stretch Spandex, Move Around a Lot in Your Leggings 

When you do wear leggings, make sure you’re moving around in them. It’s the heat of your body and the movement that will cause them to stretch around the wider parts of your body. Walk, do lunges or a few downward dogs. Again, this may be a bit of a process, but in time, the leggings will start to give more in the tighter areas.

Avoid Hot Water in the Washing Machine; Wash Them With Cold Water

Hot water can cause leggings to shrink. So if your leggings are too tight, you want to put them in the washing machine on a cold water cycle. By the way, this is also the generally advised way to care for leggings and other delicates or synthetics.

By the way, that hot water can also cause elastic to snap. Although this might sound ideal to get a looser fit, you’ll probably just end up with ill-fitting leggings that are likely to be baggy in all the wrong ways. They may even start to become transparent because of the harshness of a hot wash. So stick with the cold water care instructions.

Avoid the Dryer; Air Dry Your Leggings

Similarly, dryer heat can cause leggings to shrink and/or elastics to snap. The general care instruction is to let legging air dry flat. If you want to stretch the length of your leggings, you could try hanging them to dry. The pull of gravity on the wet material may cause them to stretch. However, there are no guarantees they won’t also stretch in ways you don’t want (e.g. the waist to crotch area could stretch just as much as the legs).So our advice is to stick with the general care instructions and air dry, laying flat to dry.

Pull Them (Gently) When They’re Wet

You can, however, gently stretch the leggings by hand when they’re damp. You can also use weights to stretch them and hold them down in a stretched position so the fabric doesn’t contract completely as it dries.

Generally, I would advise doing this very gradually and gently across a few washes. You don’t want to pull too hard and cause micro-tears in the fabric (which could cause transparency). You also don’t want to stretch the leggings too much.

… Or You Can Even Wear Leggings Damp

Arguably an even better way to stretch leggings to fit your body is to put them on when they’re a little damp and wear them until they dry. This may not sound like a nice experience but on a hot day, they should dry pretty fast. Throw them on and go for a walk on a warm day.

The reason this is a better way than using weights is because the leggings will mold to your body’s shape as they dry. The heat of your body and the dampness will soften the material, making it more malleable.

(As an aside, this is also the way we stretch shoes – if you dampen shoes a tiny bit, or even wear damp socks inside new leather shoes, they’ll soften and shape around the foot better.)

Try Soaking Them In Baby Shampoo

One internet hack is to soak too-tight leggings in baby shampoo. The rationale is that baby shampoo is exceptionally softening and gentle and it will soften the fabric of your leggings.

This will involve hand-washing them. Soak them in a mix of cold water and baby shampoo for up to half an hour and then rinse them fully. If you’re worried about this method, do a little patch test first to ensure there’s no residue left on the fabric.  

You could combine this method with wearing them damp. Just let them part dry (you can pat the leggings between a towel to absorb excess moisture) and when they’re still damp, throw them on.

How to stretch the waistline of your slacks

Slacks are a bit different than an elastic waistband, as the fabric might be flexible but not nearly as stretchy as sweatpants or leggings. They’ll vary widely, but you can still use an iron to loosen the waist.

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Begin the same way you would with elastic waistbands by stretching the pants on the ironing board. You can also use the back of a chair, a cutting board, or another hard heat-resistant surface. Dampen the pants with a spray bottle or sponge so that they’re visibly damp, then put the iron on the steam setting and iron along the waistline. At the same time, tug and pull on the pants’ waist, stretching them as you go along. Try on the pants to check the size, and repeat as needed.

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