How to Fix Stretched-Out Fitted Sheets and Save a Lot of Money

Are your bed sheets coming untucked? Do they slide around and get tangled up at night? Do they make you a little crazy sometimes? Would you like to save some money? I’ll show you a very easy way to put new elastic in your bottom sheets, and get them fitting snugly around the mattress again.

Now, I know on a scale of 1 to 10 of world problems, with 10 being the global incidence of  malaria as a killer, stretched-out fitted sheets aren’t the biggest problem. But, in the middle of the night, when your bed sheets are coming up around your knees, stretched-out bottom sheets can definitely be annoying.

Today is Frugal Friday, so I’ll share an easy way to “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without”. It only costs the price of a few yards of elastic, unless you already have some hanging around the house. If so, then this project is free. And it can save you the cost of buying a whole new set of sheets. A queen-size set of sheets, good quality, on sale, costs at least fifty dollars.

If your sheets are a good quality, with a high thread count, they can last a very long time. But here in the tropics, the elastic doesn’t last nearly as long. Pretty soon it loses its elasticity. And then they won’t stay tucked.

This little tutorial assumes you have a sewing machine. If you don’t, this project could be stitched by hand, over the course of a few quiet evenings — remember the women in the Little House in the Prairie books, sitting around sewing at night? I once made a set of curtains for our Little House in the Jungle by hand. So, it could happen. But it will be quicker and easier with a sewing machine.

And here’s the best part — it doesn’t have to be perfect! What you are going to do  is never going to show. The ‘fix’ will be tucked under the mattress, or folded up on a shelf in your linen closet. So it doesn’t matter if you can’t sew perfectly and your seams weave left and right, or if your thread doesn’t match the sheet, or if the elastic is ‘too wide.’ Just sew it up and get on with life. (OK, I’ll concede, if it is important to you that your sheets seams are perfect, please go ahead and match your thread.)

So here we go. You’ll need about 3 or 4 yards, or meters, of 1/4″ wide elastic, some straight pins, one or two safety pins, and your thread. Basically we are just going to make a little tunnel, or casing, to pull elastic through on two sides of the sheet. We’re not going to bother taking out the old elastic. The easiest thing to do is choose the sides of the sheet that don’t already have elastic in them. If your elastic goes around all four sides, then pick the two longer sides.

Now, just fold the edge over the width of your elastic plus about another 1/4-inch. Pin the edge. You should probably allow the tunnel to be at least 4-feet or so long, or about 1.3 meters. But longer or shorter, it doesn’t really matter that much.

Then you sew up the edge, leaving the ends open.

Then you thread a piece of elastic on a safety-pin. It helps to weave the elastic in and out a couple of times.

Then pin one end of the elastic to the sheet, close to the end of the tunnel you are going to start with.

Then thread the safety-pin with elastic into the tunnel. Push it down a little ways, scrunch the fabric down the safety-pin, then push it through a little more. Keep doing that until you work it to the other end of the tunnel.

Once you get the elastic all the way through, adjust how tight you want the sheet to be gathered. Then pin the elastic to the other end of the tunnel.

Now sew across the end of the tunnel, being sure to catch the elastic. Sew back and forth a few times. Then repeat at the other end.

Now do the same thing on the other side of the sheet. Trim off the ends of elastic, and you are done.

That’s it. See! Easy, peasy. Now you have nice snug sheets, almost like new. For pennies.

19 thoughts on “How to Fix Stretched-Out Fitted Sheets and Save a Lot of Money”

  1. Great post! Elastic always wears out before cotton fabric does.

    I was sitting here reading it and thinking I might do this, but it crossed my mind as I read, you must have made a mistake when you called it Frugal Friday, its only Thursday morning. By the time I got to the bottom of the post, I remembered you are half a world away and it is was already Friday for you in the Philippines.

    Have a nice weekend and thank you for the helpful for the tutorial.

    1. Yes, it’s funny, Leanne. I set the post to publish after midnight Thursday here. Maybe next time, I should compromise and post it later Friday here, so it will be early Friday there.

      Thanks for coming by to comment!

  2. I’m going to try this, thanks for the tip, it sounds much easier than my original plan of unpicking and trying to replace the elastic the way it was originally done- if I could work that out! I have a friend who does that, but she’s really good on the sewing machine, even makes bridal gowns. Not me. Valerie

  3. Thank you. Did a Google search with a request for guidance in this repair. Your method sounds so easy… Why have I waited so long to take care of this bothersome problem? I guess I’m having a spring cleaning attack and this is priority on my list. What a blessing you are Thanks again. PS- seems like it is frugal everyday these days. But, I’m just doing my part to be a good steward, JOYFULLY! In all things be joyful…Joy, Joy, Joy.

  4. Amen! Thank you for this easy way. I was going to stretch out elastic and try sewing it on top of the old elastic. This is so much easier. Now my hubby won’t be pulling and tugging the sheets all night long. We will both sleep better!

  5. Hello, I was reading and thinking genius, why sew around all 4 sides when only 2 will do? Like a drawstring effect. Well done.
    Then I thought why not use a drawstring it would be cheaper than elastic.
    Then another great idea hit me, if you had a flat sheet set, you could trim the factory sewn hem off the sheet, sew in a new hem all the way around and use the old sturdy seam as a drawstring.
    It would not perish as the elastic would.
    You could even sew the new hem with drawstring already in place.

  6. Will try the “drawstring ” idea for our too large fitted sheets. The garter strap gizmo looks iffy to me.. Will give feedback when done.. Glad I stumbled into your blog..

  7. I have a dust ruffle that I love and can’t find another to replace it. The elastic has worn out and I have resorted to safety pinning it to the mattress. There is no casing to replace worn out elastic as it is sewn in. How can I fix this?

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