Honey I shrunk the jeans!
October 23, 2008 6:19 PM   Subscribe

How can I stretch my jeans that shrunk after I washed them?

So I bought 2 pairs of jeans and was told by several people to buy them a size smaller because they will eventually stretch. Fine.

So I wear them, tolerating the discomfort, knowing that in a while, they will feel just right!

I put them in the wash. Wash in cold. Since hot water might shrink them... Hang them to dry, since the dryer might shrink them...

Put them on - I can barely get them over my a$$.
To make matters worse, the legs are now shorter than when I bought them so I look like a total dork with pants that are too tight and too short.

Am I screwed? What if I keep them in the bathroom while I shower - will the steam have any kind of effect?

What future precautions must I take to prevent this from happening again?
posted by bitteroldman to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total)
You could put them on wet and wear them until they dry, but that won't help with the length issue. Jeans usually always shrink an inch or two length wise unfortunately. As for buying a size smaller, you really should just buy them a little tight, not an entire size too small. Obviously, depending upon how the jeans fit you that isn't always possible.
posted by whoaali at 6:35 PM on October 23, 2008

Oh also I've only ever heard about buying women's jeans smaller, not mens. Although my experience is limited in this area, given how most men don't wear form fitting jeans it wouldn't make a lot of sense to buy them in a smaller size.
posted by whoaali at 6:37 PM on October 23, 2008

I think you may be screwed. Id try the steam thing and then put them on moist and wear them around(do a few squats) as they stretch they def will become longer...
gl- that stinks
posted by femmme at 6:42 PM on October 23, 2008

I have only done this with sweaters, but it might work for jeans. I guess it's worth a try. After you wash them when they are still wet, get your friend or roommate to hold the waistband and pull on the legs. Hang them to dry, but every hour or so, pull on them some more. It might help if they start out wetter than they would be after a spin cycle. Just make sure to pull pretty evenly so you don't end up with oddly shaped pant legs.
posted by greta simone at 6:42 PM on October 23, 2008

Can you return them, since they've shrunk?
posted by mumstheword at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2008

I have "unshrunk" a few things by having them dry cleaned, but they were skirts with rayon in them. Don't know if it would work for jeans, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
posted by peep at 7:08 PM on October 23, 2008

You can not really unshrink them but you can put them on and take a bath. They will fit like a wetsuit afterwards. If you are female then this will produce a Sarah Palin sexy look, but not everyone likes that. Given your user name this does not really seem like an option.
posted by caddis at 7:20 PM on October 23, 2008

Can you return them, since they've shrunk?

These are jeans, they are supposed to shrink.
posted by caddis at 7:21 PM on October 23, 2008

If you wear them for a while, they'll stretch back out in the waist and thighs, but you're unlikely to gain much (if any) length back, even if you manually stretched them or attached weights to the bottom of the legs while they were damp. Steam from the shower won't do anything appreciable to the size.

I buy my jeans too small and have them stretch to fit over time (the last pair of jeans I bought I couldn't button at all when I bought them; a few nights of wearing them to bed and they're now wearable). But I am also a dry/raw denim aficionado who wears jeans for months in between washings, during which time they stretch considerably. If you're someone who washes their jeans often, you're better off buying jeans that fit at the time you buy them.
posted by cosmic osmo at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2008

I'm a man, and like tight-ish jeans. My rule of thumb is, if it fits just right in the store at a 32L, 32W, then I buy a 32L, 31W. Jeans will sometimes stretch, but never lengthwise. In fact I find that my jeans tend to get slightly shorter as they stretch wider.
Sorry I can't help you with your currently too-small jeans. Have any good upscale clothing resale shops in your area? Trade 'em in!
(Sub-rule: Used jeans rarely change size.)
posted by raygan at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2008

If you are female then this will produce a Sarah Palin sexy look, but not everyone likes that. Given your user name this does not really seem like an option

I've got skinny legs with bony knees, a horse's ass and a butter belly...
No Sarah Palin or Michael Palin or Brad Pitt or CalvinKlein model sexy look for me!
posted by bitteroldman at 7:28 PM on October 23, 2008

Yow, I buy jeans that fit. That way, they fit.

But what I used to do back in the day was when I got them out of the washing machine I'd hang them from one end using a skirt hanger (or whatever kind of hanger has the two clips, or the big claspy thing), and then attach another hanger to the end, upside down, and hang a full can of paint from that one. That was the best lengthening result I ever got.
posted by iguanapolitico at 8:07 PM on October 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

You just need to force them back on, wear them a bit. They will definitely stretch out in the waist, thighs, etc. The length is more problematic. You can try washing them in cold again, and stretching them (pulling along the inseam I guess). I usually buy jeans that are too long, knowing they'll shrink when washed, and then hem them after that first wash.

You can try searching this forum for tips.
posted by chunking express at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2008

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