How Much Does Raw Denim Stretch? How To Stretch Denim Waist

Knowing the fabrics you use is a vital part of sewing. You need to know the fabrics you are working with to get the cut, the dimensions, and the fit just right. Not knowing the key characteristics of any fabric can lead to very bad results.

How much does raw denim stretch? With raw denim, you are looking at seeing a 3 to 5% stretch or in terms of waistline inches, about an inch to an inch and a half. One way to stretch your raw denim at the waist is to put them on and spray some warm water on the waist. Then go about your business.

To learn more about raw denim and its different abilities, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about when it comes to using the fabric the right way.

Are Denim Jeans Stretchy?


This is going to depend on the brand or the manufacturer. All denim will stretch somewhat, but the question is how much will they stretch? There is one brand that will potentially stretch 2 sizes if you are not careful.

The problem in getting consistent information on this issue is that there is no consistency when it comes to denim stretching. Before you buy, you should take some time and research the brand of jeans you want. Not the general category of jeans but the actual brands.

That way you will get the most accurate information possible about those cool looking denim jeans you have had your eye on for some time now. Also, whether the denim is raw or not, you can expect some stretch in the jeans you buy.

Is Cotton Denim Stretchy?

If your jeans are made from 100% cotton expect them to expand on you. Cotton is a fiber that does stretch and unfortunately, it cannot snap back to its original size. If you do a lot of bending and other physical activities in your jeans then expect them not to fit after a while.

Some brands have worked to stop the stretching of cotton and you would have to research the different brands to see which ones have the least amount of stretch in their product.

One way to avoid a lot of stretching is to buy the old once popular cotton/poly blend denim jeans that did not have modern elastic in them. There are brands and jean styles out there that restrict the stretch you just have to take the time to find them and then decide if they are right for you and your lifestyle.

Is Tencel Denim Stretchy?

Unless the denim is made not to stretch, then you will always find some stretch in jeans and other denim products. The reason behind that is that cotton will stretch no matter where it is found.

If the cotton denim is blended with synthetic fibers, then you will find those jean options less stretchy, if they stretch at all. This is why some salespeople tell you to buy tight jeans that are hard to put on. Over time the jeans will stretch out and allow you to put them on without discomfort.

Then you can wet stretch them and get those extra tight spots looser so the jeans fit better sooner. Also, the lighter the weight of the jeans may give you more flexibility than the heavier weight jeans would. The latter may not stretch as much or as fast.

Why Does Denim Stretch?


The stretch problem with jeans has to do with the cotton fibers they are made from. Cotton fibers have no elasticity to them and will expand on their own without being able to return to their original size automatically.

You need to shrink jeans to get them back down to their original size when you bought them. But even if you spend the time and make the effort, cotton fibers will expand again and again and again.

It is a cycle you can’t break. This is a fact of life when it comes to cotton fabric. To get the spring into denim jeans, the cotton has to be blended with a stretch fiber that can snap back to its original size on its own.

To cut the expansion, you need to blend cotton with non-stretching fibers.

Does Denim Stretch in The Wash?

Normally denim does not stretch when you wash them. If you use the wrong water temperature then you may cause them to shrink some but never stretch. Cotton denim normally stretches under stress and strain.

By that we mean you need to wear the denim outfits and do a lot of physical activity to stretch them out. Running, jumping, reaching for items, and even playing some active games will contribute to your jeans’ stretch.

For raw denim, you are not supposed to wash them for 6 months so any stretch that takes place will be from normal wear and tear.

Does Denim Stretch When You Wear It?

Yes, it will stretch when you wear it. Denim may not stretch as much if you are living a sedate lifestyle and sit behind a desk or in a chair for much of the day. You need to be physically active to get a lot of stretch out of jeans and other denim clothing items.

Those physical activities can include running, playing around, doing lots of activities that require bending, and so on. That is one reason denim is so popular. You can remain comfortable even when you are doing those activities that require a lot of physical stress and strain.

Having clothing that does stretch a little helps make doing your daily chores and other work-related activities a lot easier. You can concentrate on what you are doing instead of the discomfort non-stretch clothing bring.

Does Denim Stretch Over Time?


The answer to this question will be yes. Cotton stretches no matter what you do. This is just a fact of fabric life. The good thing about having a fabric that stretches over time is that you can shrink it back again when it becomes too loose.

Of course, those options only take place if the denim has not been made to avoid stretching or shrinking. When blended with different synthetic fibers it is possible that the cotton will not stretch out of shape even over time.

How Much Will Denim Stretch?

This is another depends question. Not so much with the blend of the fabric but because of the manufacturer behind the denim products. There is no rhyme or reason why this is taking place but different jeans made by different manufacturers have different stretching abilities.

On average you are looking at about 3 to 5% stretch which can translate into about an inch to an inch and a half. Different manufacturers use different quality of denim and use different construction methods and that means jeans have no consistency when it comes to stretching.

Some jean brands may stretch one size and possibly two. This is good if you need looser jeans to wear at those holiday turkey dinners your family puts on. But not so good when you are trying to make a great first impression.

How to Stretch Denim Fabric

There are several good ways to stretch denim. The first is to put them on and then put warm water in a spray bottle. As you wear the jeans, etc., just spray the warm water on those extra tight areas to get the fibers to loosen up some.

The next method is called the bath method. This is where you again put your jeans, etc., on and fill the tub with warm water. Then you get in the tub and lay there for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Then get out, towel off, and wear the jeans around the house doing different activities for 30 minutes. After that, hang the jeans up to dry. A final method you can use also requires you to put the jeans on.

Once on, just do some exercises, like lunges, that will cause your fabric to stretch when you stretch. This may take a little longer than other methods but it is effective.

Stretching Denim Pants


The one thing about stretching denim pants is that you do not have any control over how much the fabric will expand. One reason for that has already been discussed here. That is that different manufacturers put different quality of denim in their product and each quality expands at different rates.

Using the three methods listed above will help you control the stretch better but even if you do stretch them out a little way, that does not mean the denim pants will not continue to stretch over time or through other activities.

When it comes to stretching, you can make the effort yourself if you do not like the discomfort you feel when wearing really tight pants. Or if you are patient those pants will stretch over time as cotton stretches no matter what.

How to Stretch Denim Shorts at the Thighs

If you have a perfect-fitting pair of denim shorts or cutoffs, yet they do not fit as you want in the thighs, you do have a few stretching options available to you. This situation calls for target stretching and not a general overall stretch method.

The first method would be to use the warm water and spray bottle option. This is where you just spray the thigh section that is tight and keep the rest of the shorts or cutoffs dry. Then pull on the denim or do a few exercises in them to get them stretched a little.

The second method would be to use a steam iron and moisten the shorts in the things using the steam option on your iron. The steam loosens the fibers in the target area, leaving the rest of the material nice and dry.

Finally, you can use your hairdryer to get the shorts to stretch as you want. Just warm the material by holding the hairdryer about 1/2 inch away from the denim and then when that is done. Put the shorts on.

Continue to wear the shorts until they cool and the fabric should mold itself to the shape of your thighs.

How to Stretch Denim Waist

Some of the methods above will work to help you stretch the waist size on your jeans. Or you can wash your pants or shorts and then pull the fabric once the wash is done. It is easier to stretch wet denim than dry so resist placing the material in the dryer until you are done with the stretching.

Next, you can use the warm water and spray bottle method. Just target the area of the waistband you think needs the most stretching help. Or you could put the jeans or shorts on and do stretching exercises that target your waist area.

The easiest way to stretch denim at the waist is to simply run them through a cold water wash and put them on after the wash is done. These are just a few ideas to help you get your denim materials stretched to the right size.

What is Stretch Denim Fabric?


Stretch denim is simply cotton and synthetic blend that allows the cotton fabric to stretch easily as well as spring back to its usual size. This style of denim is only a recent creation and has not been on the market for very long.

How manufacturers create this style of jeans,etc., is by blending cotton fibers with spandex, lycra, or even elastane. Once they do that, the stretch jeans look like regular denim jeans but give you more flexibility. They will also stretch when you stretch.

Another reason these jeans are so popular is that they can be very form-fitting and flatter your body style without excluding comfort, restricting movement, or hindering any activity you do.

Just so you know lycra and spandex are just different names for the same type of stretch fibers.

What is Stretch Denim Made Of?

We gave that answer away already. You have cotton and the cotton part of the blend is usually over 95% of the total. The stretch fibers usually only make up between 2 and 5% of the total. That is all it takes to get comfortable form-fitting jeans that really flatter your body style.

While spandex has been around for over 60 years and used in different products, it has only been used by denim manufacturers in recent decades. The 80s saw a start in the trend and many different jeans manufacturers started offering them in skinny and very tight fitting styles.

The good news about stretch denim is that they look good on just about anyone and both genders can wear them with ease. They are not just for women only. Also, there is about 1 to4% stretch in these jeans and you will have to look at the labels to see how much stretch is in the pair you are interested in wearing.

Stretch Denim Composition

This will also depend on the manufacturer’s preference. The figure that has been mentioned most often is that there is about 1 to 4% stretch material in cotton blended stretch jeans. You do not need a lot of stretch material to get the comfort and reach you are looking for.

That leaves about the remaining 99 to 96% for the cotton fabric. You do not lose any comfort nor any of the benefits that come with wearing cotton fabric. Your body should remain comfortable even if the stretch jeans are tight and very form-fitting.

Also, make sure to hang dry your jeans when you get around to washing them. That way you avoid shrinking them and having to work hard to stretch them back out again. Also, if the stretch jeans stretch too far, you can still shrink them to get them fit better.

Who Invented Stretch Denim?


According to one history, it was not a famous company like Levis, Lee’s, or Gloria Vanderbilt, and so on. Instead, it was a fashion designer, who used his trendy clothing shop in London to market them, that came up with the idea. This was back in 1978 and he turned to Japanese stretch denim to create the clothing item he wanted.

He didn’t start with just one size or one color. He went all in and created several sizes in different colors to help make sure the creation was a success. Once he got his creation into his store, the new style of jeans became popular and such a great success that Bloomingdales and Fred Segal stores started importing them to America.

Then in the 80s, the aforementioned famous brands started to make their own versions and the rest, as they say, is history. These American and other famous outlets originally targeted women offering them designer stretch jeans that were tight, skinny, and flexible.

When Was Stretch Denim Invented?

Spandex, the stretch material, was not invented until 1959 of the modern age. There is no word on any ancient civilization creating this blend even though those societies had different fabrics at their disposal.

It took about 19 years before Peter Golding got the idea to put spandex fibers in with cotton denim fibers. His was a one-man show until the jeans became so popular that other design houses started copying his idea.

They say that most fashion designers only started offering stretch denim recently but it seems that many jumped on board in the early 80s and made sure stretch denim reached everyone as quickly as possible.

Is Stretch Denim Durable?

One would like to think so and the cotton denim comes into stretch denim with all the qualities you would find in regular cotton denim jeans. The weak spot in stretch denim will be the synthetic fibers used to create stretch denim.

The synthetic materials can easily be damaged if you put those jeans into the dryer or subject them to high heat. Then some stretch denim options may require dry cleaning only to get the dirt out.

Make sure to read the care instructions that come with cleaning the stretch fabrics. That way you can avoid any ‘rookie’ mistakes and have your stretch jeans last you a long time.

Stretch Denim vs Raw Denim


Everyone wants to know which fabric is better over another one and some experts think that raw denim is overrated. All raw denim amounts to is that it ha snot been washed or distressed before making it to your clothes closet.

It is regular denim under a different name and that unwashed status means they may shrink a lot on you if you are not careful. Stretch denim has its vulnerabilities but it may be pre-washed and unlikely to shrink a lot when washed in your washing machine.

The synthetic material helps the cotton to avoid shrinking which may make this version of jeans the better of the two. There is more to the quality of the denim than just being pre-washed or sent straight to the store.

You have to look at the quality of the material, the processing, and other factors to see which style is best. Those factors rely on the manufacturers and their standards.

Some Final Words

When it comes to knowing a fabric, you need to know all the nuances and characteristics of that fabric. Raw denim will stretch on you and up to about a size approx if you are not careful. It will also shrink on you as it has never been pre-washed.

Stretched denim is not the end of the world and when you need it to shrink some, you can do that over and over.

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