Have you ever wondered how your sports leggings or tights should fit? Have you come across a pair that’s supposed to be made of tight stretchy material, yet it feels a little loose? Or did you order a rather pricey pair that doesn’t feel comfortable when you bend or sit?
If any of these questions have ever nagged at you, no worries. We’re here to help.
Here, we’ll talk all about the right fit for your gym leggings and tights and share the top 11 tips to help make them fit you better.
How Tight Should Leggings Be?
So, how tight should leggings be? How tight is too tight, and how tight is just right?
Before you go out to buy a new pair of activewear leggings, you should already have a good idea of what’s considered the right fit for you. Leggings that are too tight are not only restricting and uncomfortable but can also get damaged or torn if forced beyond their capacity.
If you end up purchasing sports leggings that turn out to be too loose, they’re basically defeating the purpose of leggings. Unless you’re into wide leg yoga pants outfits, loose leggings usually look silly and saggy. They might even slip downward unexpectedly, leaving you in an embarrassing pose during your gym workout or yoga session.
Therefore, it’s essential to know what clues to be on the lookout for in finding just the right-sized pair of leggings or tights.
- Leggings with seams that leave marks on your skin are probably too tight.
- When you put on your leggings, check how your belly looks above the waistband. If what you see is a muffin top, then you probably need to get slightly bigger new leggings – perhaps a size up or two.
- Your leggings shouldn’t cause additional bulges. They should feel comfortable yet supportive.
- Do a deep squat in front of a mirror and check if you can see your underwear. Your underwear could peek at the top of the waistline, just above your booty section. Or it could show underneath your leggings if the material is flimsy or too stretched out.
- Leggings should never be baggy and should always fit snugly around the legs, hips and bum. If you want to buy scrunch bum leggings, there should also be a bit of room for the scrunch effect to be noticeable. Else, it wouldn’t be obvious at all as it could get flattened and stretched.
- Your leggings should never ever slip down in any section. If this is the case, you need to go down one size at least.
An excellent way to check if your leggings are the right fit is by making sure they don’t restrict your movements – beyond squats. Test your pair by trying different, more difficult positions you usually assume during your workouts.
The thing with leggings, too, is that you can’t be too sure if leggings made by the same brand but made from a different material will have the exact same fit. So, instead of depending on the brand, your best bet is still to try them on and do some workout moves.
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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.
How to Make Leggings Bigger
If you’re looking for tips on how to make leggings bigger or how to stretch out tights, you’re on the right track. There are things you can do to make your a-bit-too-snug pair to feel more comfortable and less restricting.
How to Stretch Out Pants
To stretch out your gym pants, you can try the following methods:
1. Wear, Squat, Lunge
If you need to loosen your leggings a little, you can stretch them out to fit you comfortably simply by performing simple movements like squats and lunges. Do several at a time until you feel the fabric ‘give’ without becoming saggy.
You can also just keep wearing them during your workouts until they stretch to a point where you no longer find them restrictive. Wear them for lounging around the house for several hours a day until you can wear them to your workouts comfortably.
2. Use a Bottle
Another method you can use to help you add a bit of allowance to your leggings is by inserting a small bottle to the section you want to loosen a bit while you are wearing them. This could be the waistline or thigh area.
Keep the bottle inserted in your pants for about 15 minutes. Then remove the bottle and see the results.
3. Apply the Power of Water
Use warm or room temperature water to stretch out your pants. Pour or spritz some water onto the area that you want to stretch (e.g., waist or thigh areas). You can do this with the leggings on the sink. Stretch the pants by holding each side with one hand and pulling the pants apart.
But if you’re not averse to wearing damp pants, you’ll get better results if you wear them while they’re wet. This method is particularly useful if you want a bit more stretch. With the pants on, do some stretches, lunges and squats.
Let the pants dry out on you. This can take a couple of hours depending on the weather. If you want the leggings to get dry faster, walk or lounge out in the sun, and don’t forget to put on some sunscreen.
Once done, you should just use cold water to wash your newly stretched pants and never put them in the dryer – unless you want them to shrink again. Opt to air-dry them instead.
4. Soak in Baby Shampoo
Fill a tub or sink with warm water and pour in a generous amount of baby shampoo. Mix thoroughly before leaving your leggings to soak in the mixture for about 30 minutes. After half an hour, wring out the water and place your leggings on a flat surface. Secure both legging bottoms or ends separately with weights.
The baby shampoo and warm water both work to soften the fibres. This will help the material relax and stretch more quickly. Once the leggings are dry, they’ll smell great and be soft and stretched to a more comfortable size for you.
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.
How to Stretch Spandex Material
To stretch spandex or elastane materials, there are two basic methods you can apply. However, remember that the level of stretch you’ll achieve depends a lot on the blended fabric and how much elastane it contains.
6. Heat and Pull
You can use a hot water soak in the machine or sink for around 30 minutes to soften and relax the fibres. Wring the garment and put it on while damp. This method will work if the size increase you need is not substantial. If the stretch is inadequate, try the next method.
7. Use Fabric Weights
Soak the garment in hot water to soften the material. Put the leggings flat on top of an ironing board or any clean surface. Secure one end of your leggings or tights with a fabric weight. Make sure it won’t budge even if you tug at the fabric on the other end.
If you don’t have fabric weights, you can use free weights or some other material as long as it is not sensitive to damp and won’t stain your leggings or the surface you are using. Now, pull the other end and secure it with another weight. Ensure the stretch you give it is more than what you need as spandex is designed to retain its shape.
Let the stretched-out garment dry for about an hour or more. Thicker fabrics may take longer to dry, so give it time. Once your leggings are dry, they should already be at the size you want. Henceforth, always wash in cool or room temperature water. Applying heat will lead elastane to either shrink back to its old size or to break down. Always air-dry and never put your altered leggings in the dryer.
How to Loosen the Waistband on Tights
Curious about how to loosen waistband on tights?
If you find the waistband too small on your tights, you can try the following method on how to loosen elastic:
8. Treat in Cold Water
If you want to achieve a better fit around the waistband of your tights, soak them in cold water in the sink or washer for about half an hour. After 30 minutes, remove them from the water and wring.
Look for a couple of old clean shirts that you can roll together and stuff into the waist of your tights. The number of shirts you use depends on the waistline allowance you need.
However, do not stuff too many shirts to prevent damaging or causing runs in your tights. Leave the tights as they are with the shirts stuffed inside until they are dry. If you have time, keep them this way for about six hours before removing the shirts. Make sure the shirts you use are not only clean but also colourfast. Once done, your tights should fit quite well along the waistline.
How to Fix Leggings that Are Too Big
Maybe you’ve lost weight or your leggings have gotten all stretched out, so now you want to know how to shrink sports leggings that still look good. There are several ways you can try to shrink athletic leggings or tights that are too big without old-fashioned sewing (although you can do that, too).
9. Spray and Dry
Place your leggings on a flat, clean surface. Using a spray bottle containing hot water, spritz on the front section of your leggings and spray on more hot water on sections that need more shrinking. Once done, get a hairdryer and use it to dry the surface of your leggings. The setting should be at the hottest.
Flip or turn the leggings over and repeat the same process on the other side. By this time, your leggings would have shrunk down a size.
10. Machine Wash and Dry
To achieve the most shrinkage in your cotton leggings, you can use the washer and dryer. What the heat does in this process is to tighten the fabric and threads. Use the hottest water setting and wash and dry as usual. Note that the longer the wash cycle, the more shrinkage you’ll achieve.
Once done with washing, transfer your leggings to the dryer and use the hottest setting as well. However, keep in mind that shrinking your leggings this way will affect not only their width but also their length.
How to Shrink the Waistband on Tights
If you only need to shrink the waistband on your tights, apply the following strategy:
11. Dampen and Dry
Since you only need to shrink the waistband, dampen only the waistband section. Get a clothes hanger and hang your tights loosely around it. Turn on your hairdryer and aim the heat at the waistband. Dry the area with the heat to shrink it.
Keeping Leggings Size Consistent After Stretching or Loosening
Once you have achieved the size you want after stretching or loosening your leggings, it’s best to hand wash your garments and allow them to air-dry. This will help to retain the ideal size you have achieved.
Or, if you don’t have time for handwashing them, you can wash them using a cold cycle. Ideally, you should put them inside a garment bag to reduce friction during a machine wash. However, do not use the dryer as this will shrink your leggings.
Also, one important note to remember is to always check the fabric care instructions for your garment before attempting any stretching or loosening methods. The care label provides information on the fabric blends used in your leggings or tights.
You can use the information as a basis for choosing a method to use. Usually, when a label indicates that you wash with cold water, it means the material used will shrink fast in hot temperature. If a label says the garment must be washed in warm water, then it can mean the material would be more challenging to shrink.