Can You Alter a Hoodie To Make It Bigger? (Here’s How!)

hoodie sweatshirt

How To Alter a Hoodie and Make It Bigger

So you bought a new hoodie, or someone bought one for you. But when you tried it on, it was uncomfortably snug, and that’s just not the look for you–especially when it comes to hoodies. 

Is there a way to redeem the purchase? Don’t give up. It is possible to alter the size of some hoodies by several inches without sewing. But first, you’ll need to answer a couple of important questions.

What kind of fabric is the hoodie made from? The sweatshirt fleece most hoodies are made of may be cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two. Cotton is ideal, as it stretches easily. 

Polyester, on the other hand, does not have nearly as much stretch. Check the label for the fiber content. The higher percentage of cotton, the better your chances of gaining a few inches of space.

How much do you need to stretch the garment? Lay your best-fitting old hoodie flat on the table and measure its width (or length if this is the issue). Then measure the too-snug hoodie the same way. 

Whatever the difference is in width must be doubled to equal the amount of actual fabric needed to make the stretch. If the amount is more than 2-4 inches, a sewing alternative will need to be explored. 

I must also point out that some parts of a hoodie are more difficult to alter than others, such as armhole size. Talk to a professional sewer about what can or cannot be feasibly done.

If you still believe the alterations you need to make are doable, there are several methods to try to adjust your hoodie.

The Water Soak Method

  1. Thoroughly soak the hoodie in lukewarm water with a couple of tablespoons of hair conditioner added. Knead the softened water into the fabric well and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Drain the water and replace it with cool water. Work the water entirely through the fabric again to rinse. Let the hoodie soak again for about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the water and wring as much out of the hoodies as possible. Lay the garment flat on several dry towels.
  4. Pull the sides away from each other to add width, starting beneath the sleeve. Don’t pull on the sleeve area, as this can seriously warp the overall fit of the hoodie. For more length, hold onto the top of the garment while pulling on the bottom. Or pull gently on either side of the neck area to make adjustments there.
  5. If you have a measured goal, now is the time to check it. Remove the damp towels and let the garment air dry.

The Steamer Method

  1. A clothing steamer can be bought online starting at around $30. Or you may find one to rent at a small appliance or party supplies rental store. You’ll need to hang the hoodie within easy reach of the steamer cord and outlet.
  2. Always keep the steam pointing away from you! Let the steamer heat up, then begin sweeping back and forth across the garment, bottom to top, back and front. Continue steaming until the entire garment is warm and damp.
  3. Turn the steamer off and set it aside. Begin gently pulling the hoodie in the areas you need to adjust–width, length, neck, sleeves, or hood.
  4. If the hoodie becomes cool before you’re done stretching, repeat the steaming process to warm it.
  5. This is one of the quickest methods for stretching a hoodie. It will dry quickly and be ready for wear.

The Ironing Method

  1. Ironing can be almost as effective as steaming but takes a little longer and increases the danger of your fingers coming in contact with localized heat. Begin by machine washing, then drying the hoodie until it is just damp. Or soak as in the water method above.
  2. Heat the iron as hot as the fabric will tolerate. This method will work best for 100% cotton material. Place the damp hoodie on the ironing board.
  3. Begin stretching the hoodie as you iron it in a slow, sweeping motion. Avoid pulling the armhole area. Stretch to the side or lengthwise as you move around the garment. 
  4. Hang the hoodie to dry, attaching weights to help it maintain the stretch. 

Cutting Methods

It has become fashionable to simply make cuts in a pullover hoodie for style effect. Widening the neckline or shortening the garment are the most common cuts.

For the neck opening, lay the hoodie out flat and make a chalk mark exactly halfway between the drawstring holes or the edges of the hood. Decide how much you want to open the front and mark another point straight down from the first as a stopping point.

Cut straight from the top to the bottom mark. Use a ruler to draw a line between the marks if the cut will be longer or you’re worried about cutting crooked. The sides of the cut can be left as they are or trimmed back slightly for more of a V-neck effect.

To cut the hoodie shorter, put it on and measure where you want it to end. Then lay the garment out and measure the amount you want to take off from the bottom. Measure this same distance all the way around, creating a dashed line. Then cut the hoodie off at the line. 

Sweatshirt fleece will not fray, making these types of adjustments possible. Cutting away the ribbing makes the garment more loose around the hips. But if there are pockets extending to the bottom, they will have to be hand or machine sewn closed.

Sewing Method

It’s an easy matter to make a garment that is too big smaller. It’s quite another to make a too-small garment larger. This is especially true of garments such as hoodies, which are sewn without seam allowances. 

If you are a sewer, you’ll need matching or contrasting fabric and ribbing. A wedge-shaped piece can be fitted into the sides or neck to add width. Adding length is more complicated, and the results are hard to predict. Watch a few online tutorials before you decide to tackle it.

If you don’t sew, you’ll want to consult someone with enough experience to tell you the pros and cons of what you want to be done. It’s not a job for a beginner sewer. 

Remember, it’s not practical to try to increase size by more than one size, or maybe just slightly more. If you need more than that, it’s probably time to consider buying a new hoodie.

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