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How to Shrink Elastic Waistband

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Are you looking to shrink elastic waistband quickly? Elastic waistband in any garment such as leggings, skirts, shorts, or trousers is sewn into the garment during construction and cannot be easily pulled out to make it tighter. 

Overtime and after multiple wears and washes, you may notice the elastic around the waistband start loosen up. Let’s discuss simple fixes for getting a tighter elastic waistband.

How do you shrink elastic waistband? In order to shrink loose elastic waistband, you have options to fix with sewing or without sewing. 

For a non-sewer, apply hot heat from the iron to shrink the elastic band. Otherwise, you can easily slit open along the seam to take elastic out, cut out the desired amount and sew back to shorten the length and join elastic to make a perfect fit. 

Whether it is medium to wide width elastic, you can easily apply a heated iron or a regular sewing machine to fix the problem. In this article, you will learn different techniques to shrink elastic waistband quickly so that you can continue to enjoy wearing your favorite bottoms without a fit issue. 

Can you make elastic shrink?

Yes, you can make elastic shrink by applying high heat. Elastic can withstand high temperatures and shrink very easily. 

For best result, dampen a cloth and place over the elastic waistband. Then, iron for 10 seconds, let it sit for 10 seconds and repeat the same steps for about 5 minutes.

Doing so continuously will help the pants fit more snug, as the elastic heat up it will gradually shrink more and more. If it hasn’t shrunk enough, try flipping on the other side and repeating the process until the waist opening reaches your desired fit. 

Elastic can stretch two times its original length and will snap back to its initial size once relaxed after stretching. 

Elastic is made of polymer, and to shrink a stretched elastic means shrinking the long-chain of molecules. It can be done by subjecting the matter to heat, and then the synthetic polymers will contract as much as possible.

To tighten loose elastic, there are two basic method, by either sewing or by subjecting high heat along the elastic band to tighten loose elastic:

  • Subjecting to heat: Use an iron on the steam setting. Hover the steam over the elastic band very closely but not touching the band. If you see no shrinkage even after sufficient time, then the elastic is worn out and it may be time to replace it.
  • Sewing: If you are tightening by sewing, then cut a slit in the fabric on the interior side. Thread another elastic that is smaller in length along the stretched one, provided the elastic tunnel or seam is not stitched. Pull to the required size and sew or knot to get a perfect fit. Sew the elastic within by overlapping the ends to join elastic or cutting and fixing it back to the desired fit, provided the elastic is stretchable and not overly worn out.

How to tighten waistband without sewing?

The most efficient ways to tighten a waistband without sewing is to use correct temperature on the iron. Iron provides steam and high heat at the same time to keep the elastic from burning too quickly, instead it is easy to control the shrinkage without damaging.

Heating Elastic waistband with iron at its highest heat setting

  • Use your iron and set it to steam or the highest heat setting.
  • Dampen a cloth, but do not wet it completely.
  • Adjust into the desired waist opening by gathering together.
  • Take the dampened cloth and place it over the elastic. Ensure the cloth to be covered totally along the stretch. Use 2 clothes if needed to provide better heat control for ultra thin fabrics.
  • Now iron the damp cloth over the waistband on its highest setting.
  • Iron for about ten seconds and let it sit for another 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the process back and forth for 5 minutes.
  • Check the opening against a body measurement and if more shrinkage is needed, then flip and repeat.

Heating elastic with a torch

  • Take a heating torch and flare up to flame.
  • Elastic is made of synthetic polymers and so they can be shrunk by applying heat using a torch.
  • Take your waistband and begin running your torch all along the waistband.
  • Ensure the flame is not run on any section for long as this can result in the waistband or fabric catching fire.
  • Do not let the flame touch the waistband but run it such a way the highest heat is running along the elastic.
  • Run it all along and on both sides of the band.
  • First, run along the front side and then flip and run along the backside.
  • Check for the shrinkage and if it is as per your measurements.
  • The shrinkage should not be too less and so run the torch all along with periodic checks of the width.
  • If there is no shrinkage, the elastic might not be having any stretch left in it.
  • Replacement is the best option if the elastic is worn out.

Heating elastic with a steam iron

  • Use a regular iron if it has a steam setting in it and follow the same steps as heating elastic with iron.
  • Take your steam iron and pour little water into it.
  • Gather your waistband or slide the waistband with ends holding with a clip as desired opening measurement.
  • Run your steam iron on high heat setting
  • Run it along the waistband on one side, then flip and repeat.
  • Check the shrinkage and repeat steam ironing if necessary.
How to shrink elastic waistband

Shrinking Elastic Waistband: Final Thoughts

To shrink elastic waistband, there are two primary methods that include subjecting the elastic band to heat or sewing it to tighten the stretch. When it comes to shrinking elastic waistbands without sewing, apply heat either using regular iron, steam iron or a heating torch is an alternate option.

If you are using heating method, use a steam setting on an iron. Hover over the waistband closely without touching and run the steam for a few minutes, the steam will keep the elastic band from getting burned.

Try on both sides of the waistband and if it does not shrink back down, then you may need to repair the worn out elastic by sewing.

Set the sewing machine to the correct tension, stitch length and thread them properly to begin sewing. Whether you are working on woven or knit, change the needle to ballpoint needle to make sewing easy with elastic. 

Simply cut a small slit on the interior of the fabric, preferably on the side seam on the inside of the garment. 

Pull out the old elastic amount that you need to take out, cut and overlap the ends together, then join the elastic properly so that it doesn’t pop when stretched out. Place the elastic back inside the waistline and close the slit by hand sewing or zigzag stitch to finish. 

Shrinking elastic waistband is quite easy and quickly done with or without sewing. Start with high heat and steam method to identify if the elastic is fixable.

If not, then move to sewing method to shrink the length. By doing so, you will save time to fix the loose elastic around the waistband instead of taking them apart and redoing the entire waistband from scratch. 

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