Pants too tight? Here's help.
Step 1: My Problem...
... is that over the last several years, the waistbands on my trousers have inexplicably gotten tighter. I guess they don't make material like they used to.
At any rate, once I had determined the problem, the solution was simple: stretch the waistbands. I had two or three thoughts, but the best one proved to be the simplest - make a waistband stretcher. I don't know if such a thing existed to begin with but it does now.
The heart of my Instructable - indeed the whole thing - is a '24" Ratcheting Bar Clamp / Spreader from Harbor Freight, which cost me about five bucks.
Step 2: A Slight Modification
Once you have obtained your clamp, you need to grind off the little dimple that keeps the moving clamp assembly from falling off the bar.
(jmhjr had a better idea than grinding off the metal dimple. See comments)
Step 3: Turn Things Around
The stationary part of the clamp is held in place by a bolt (with a plastic wing) and a nut. That's the part to the left in the photo. Just undo the bolt, reverse everything, and put it back together.
Next, while holding the spring release in, remove the moving assembly, turn it around, and put it back on the bar. I am not sure what will happen if you let the spring release go, but I didn't want to take a chance on having springs flying all over the place. I didn't have any problem.
I painted the ground portion of the bar, which I think is a good idea as there is a possibility of it rusting otherwise.
Step 4: Put It to Use
Find a pair of pants - jeans work well because of the strong button - and wet the waistband. Zip up the zipper, button the button, and insert the stretcher as shown. Squeeze the handle until the waistband is quite tight, but not so tight you pop the button (dress pants might be inclined to lose buttons because they aren't as firmly attached.) As they dry, they will stretch the fabric and give you a little breathing room.
In practice, I have been able to stretch jeans that I couldn't button to where I had no problem doing it.