How to Make Shorts Tighter: Waist & Thighs

Learn how to make your shorts tighter by tailoring your waist and thighs.

How to Make Shorts Tighter

Men's Shorts

You can make your shorts tighter by either shrinking, going to a tailor or altering them at home. Shrinking your shorts will give you the least amount of control, but it will take the shortest time. The areas you will focus on when tightening your shorts are the waist, thighs and crotch.

This is How to Make Shorts Tighter: Waist & Thighs.

Welcome to our guide on making sure your shorts fit perfectly, from waist to crotch to your thighs. 

Whether it be Spring, Summer or the early stages of fall, shorts are always a fashionable choice, from weddings to family events or day parties. The thing is, your shorts must fit right.

The fabric may be suitable, and the colour matching may be perfect, but if the cut or size of the shorts is off, it will throw your whole outfit off.

Jean shorts, dress shorts, board shorts, khaki shorts, no matter the shorts type.

I will show you how to make your shorts tighter and ready for any occasion.

How to Make Shorts Tighter 

Like all other pieces of clothing in your wardrobe, the ability to shrink the fabric used in your shorts is possible. Even though it is possible to shrink your clothes with hot water, it usually is not the most effective solution to your problems. When shrinking your shorts, you will not have much say in what areas get shrunk and how much shrinking occurs. 

Because of the inconsistency of applying heat to fabric to shrink it, I suggest you take your shorts to a tailor or alter your shorts at home. Follow these steps below to tailor your shorts at home.

Follow any one of our other guides to help you tighten, take in or alter any pieces of clothing.

How to Make Shorts Tighter Around the Waist?

Here are three methods to follow to take your shorts in around the waist.

1. Adjusting the Back of your Shorts

  1. Pull the waistband snug from the back and pin it in place. Put your shorts on and pull the back of the waistband with one hand to adjust it to the right size. Pinch the extra fabric of the waistband with your free hand and secure it with a large safety pin. Pinch just below the safety pin to pull out the excess fabric and secure it with a straight pin. Continue pinching and pinning down the back seam until there is no more excess to pin and your shorts fit well in the waist and hips
  2. Mark the inside of the shorts along the pinned seam and take out the pins. Take the shorts off carefully. Place them face-up on a flat surface and pull the front waistband down to see the inside of the back waistband where you’ve placed the pins. Mark along the center of the pinned seam with fabric chalk, making sure that it leaves a line on both sides of the seam. Then, take out the pins.
  3. Cut out the waistline stitching between your markings, plus 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) on each side. From left to right, use a seam ripper to take out the top and bottom row of stitches along the waistband. Remove all the stitching of the two rows on the waistband between the chalk marks, plus 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) on each side. Leave the stitching along the top edge of the waistband and the seat of the shorts for now.
  4. Remove the belt loop(s). Take off any belt loops between your two chalk lines. To do this, carefully clip away the thread attaching the belt loop(s) to the waistband.
  5. Take out the stitching from the top edge of the waistband and the center of the seat. Carefully cut the stitching on the top edge of the waistband along the same length where you removed the two rows of waistband stitching. Separate the two layers of the waistband. Use a seam ripper to take out the row of stitching on the inside of the shorts from the waistband down to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) below your chalk lines. Remove the corresponding stitching on the outside of the shorts as well to fully separate the seat of the shorts.
  6. Fold the inner layer of the waistband and sew across it with a straight stitch. Fold the waistband across the center back line of the shorts, the midpoint between the two chalk lines. Fold with the right sides (the sides facing the outside of the shorts) facing each other, so the folded edge is facing you. Sew where the new altered waistband meets from the top to the bottom of the waistband with a single straight stitch.
  7. Repeat the alteration with the outer waistband. Take in the outer waistband, using the inner waistband as a guide. Fold it in the middle, sew it, then trim and press the edges.
  8. Sew the seat of the shorts back together with a single straight stitch. Pin the seat together by turning the right sides (the outside of the shorts) to face each other. Pin along the chalk lines you made earlier. Sew the seat together with a single straight stitch next to the pins.
  9. Sew topstitching with a single straight stitch on the outside of your shorts. To give your altered shorts the same outward appearance again, use topstitching thread to sew from the existing stitching lines up to the waistband in two rows, matching the stitching on the rest of the shorts. Overlap a few stitches with the old stitch line to make it blend better.
  10. Sew the belt loop back on with a single straight stitch. Sew the top and bottom of the belt loop back onto the waistband in the center. Be sure to match the thread color of the other belt loops.

2. Taking in the Side of the Shorts

  1. Put your shorts on inside out and pinch the waist at the sides until it fits. Turn your shorts inside out and put them on. Pinch the waistband on each side until you get the right fit in the waist. Try to pinch an equal amount on both sides so that your shorts will sit evenly after the alteration.
  2. Secure the excess fabric on both sides with straight pins. Carefully put the pins in the waistband on each side where you have pinched the fabric, as close to your waist as possible to keep the shorts snug. Be careful not to pin your finger. Keeping pinning down the sides of the shorts where you can pinch out loose fabric. Pin as far down as you would like, depending on how you would like the shorts to fit.
  3. Sew next to your pins with a single straight stitch. Carefully take your shorts off. Sew each side of the shorts along the pinned line. Go over the stitches again with a backstitch (reversing back over your stitches) at the beginning and end to secure the stitching in place.
  4. Turn your shorts right side out and try them on.

3. Use an Elastic Band

  1. Pinch the extra fabric at the center back of the waistband. Put your shorts on. Pinch the excess fabric in the back of the waistband so that the shorts fit snugly.
  2. Mark each side of the pinched fabric on the inside of the shorts. Keep the fabric pinched. Use fabric chalk or a highlighter to make a small line inside the shorts on each side of the pinched fabric where you will want your new, smaller waistband to touch.
  3. Cut two slits in the inner waistband to allow the elastic through. Remove the shorts and lay them with the front side facing up. Pull the front of the shorts down to reveal the back of the waistband. Cut out a few stitches from the bottom of the waistband below each of your two highlighter marks. Use scissors to cut a slit from one of the broken seams to just before the top of the waistband. Only cut through the inner layer of the waistband. Cut another slit on the other side.
  4. Prepare a 3⁄4 inch (1.9 cm) elastic band. Measure the elastic band and cut it so it is slightly smaller than the distance between the two slits on the waistband. Attach a safety pin to each end of the band.
  5. Slip the elastic band through the slits and attach it to the shorts. To do this, attach one end of the elastic band with a safety pin to the waistband outside one of the cuts. Thread the other end of the elastic through to the other slit in the waistband. Attach it to the outside of the slit with another safety pin.

How to Make Shorts Tighter around the Thighs?

Follow these three steps to make your shorts tighter around the thighs. Understanding where the inseam is on your shorts & how to measure your thighs properly will help.

Take in the Side Seam of your Shorts

  1. Use a seam ripper to take out the side seams of your shorts.
  2. Put on the shorts and apply pins so that the width of the short legs is the size you want. Do this for both legs.
  3. Hand sew or use a sewing machine to re-seam your short legs.

How to Make Shorts Tighter FAQ

You can make the waist of your shorts tighter by either taking them to a tailor or altering them yourself at home. To make the waist tighter, you will need sewing tape, pins, sewing needle & thread or a sewing machine.

You can make your shorts legs tighter by either taking them to a tailor or altering them yourself at home. To make the legs tighter, you will need sewing tape, pins, a sewing needle & thread or a sewing machine.

To make the fabric of your shorts tighter, you will need to take one of the many ways to shrink your shorts. I suggest you wash your shorts in hot water and then put them in the dryer on high to shrink them.

To alter shorts that are too big, you will want to tailor the waist or the thighs of your shorts. Also, you can use hot water and hot air to shrink your shorts.

Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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