How to Alter a Dress to Make it Smaller

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How to Alter a Dress to Make it Smaller
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How to Alter a Dress to Make it Smaller

How to alter a dress to make it smaller

If you are lady reading this, it is likely that you have found a good dress that is really a steal at a thrift store. The fabric and color is to die for, but the dress is too big for you to fit in. The best solution is to go over to your local tailor to have it altered to make it small, but you know for a fact that it will cost you probably more than the dress itself cost you!

Instead, if you are willing to take up a do it yourself project you can take in your dress easily within a few hours on a weekend. Here is how to go about:

Things you will need

For making a dress smaller all by yourself, you need the basic supplies such as measuring tape, a sewing needle of medium size, seam rippers some straight pins and a pair of scissors.

The Initial Steps

This is the first and most important step of taking your dress in. Measure yourself carefully around the chest, waist and hips. Now measure the dress and arrive at a conclusion of how  much you need to take in at the waist and hips respectively.

It is a good idea to make a rough sketch at this point, to understand how the final garment would look. Make a neat diagram and write the measurements by the side. To make a dress smaller, you may even want to take the opportunity to take in the extra fabric by adding seams.

Taking it Apart to Take it in

The next step is to rip the dress at the seams in a manner so that every line of stitching ruptures perfectly. At this stage, it is important to find the exact angle that allows you to press the fabric gently and rip the thread. At the first stage, unpick the original dart and the side seam upwards.

To decide the placement of the dart, try the dress and determine the placement of the new dart. It should sit directly on your breast angling downwards towards the side seam. The beginning and the end of the dart should be marked clearly. Now turn the dress inside out and sew the dart with angled stitches.

Fitting to Your Form

The next step is to try the dress on and simply start pinching and pinning until it begins to fit your form. Making alterations on the body is pretty simple, as all you have to do is keep the alterations symmetrical. Once you are done pinning, try the dress on once again to know if you need to shift around any of the pins.

Next up, mark the basting lines with a tailor’s chalk. If you are creating an extra seam where there were none, snip open the top before you machine stitch in the seam. Once the sewing is done, you have to clip open the new darts and press.

Join the Bottom Half

So far, you have been dealing with the dress as two different halves. Now, it is time to join the lower half of the dress with the torso. The important step here is to align the center front of the bodice to the center front of the skirt.

Next, you work your way all around the skirt and mark new darts and side seams with a tailors chalk like you did with the bodice. Next you simply pin and sew.

The next step is to match the bodice to the skirt of the dress, right sides together. The important thing at this stage is getting the darts to match up to the lateral seam. The way to do it is to use a straight pin through the actual stitching of the seam.

Then push the pin tip of the same pin through the stitches of the corresponding bodice. Once you are done with the entire process of attaching the bodice to the skirt, try out the dress once again to see if any tweaks are required. Post the final adjustments, stitch the new seam according to the pinned adjustments.

Stitching in the Lining

The same process needs to be followed at both sides to match the waist seam across the center of the dress. At this stage your alterations are nearly done and it is time to stitch in the lining if any. Keep in mind that the lining material is always slippery and you will need a bunch of pins to have it in place.

You need not be as precise with the lining as you were with the dress as it is ok for the lining to have a less precise fit. If you find the lining slipping under the dress, use hand stitches to attach the lining to the seams.

Hem the Dress in

The last step is to hem in the dress. If you have friend nearby, now is the time to seek some help. The correct way is to use a yard stick from the floor. Stand straight and mark the same height from the floor up to length you wish it to be. Make the mark with a tailors chalk and use pins to secure the marks.

Close the hem with a running stitch or a machine stitch to finish the job. In case you have shortened the dress considerably, and have some leftover fabric, you can use it to make pretty frills, patches or adding a smart pocket to your dress.

A Complete Transformation

Now that your alteration of the dress is complete, give it a final ironing and your project is done. Not only will you have altered a dress successfully, you will have saved a lot of money.

The best part is the sense of achievement you attain after having transformed your ill fitting dress into a properly tailored dress to look and feel good in! So go ahead, and alter that blah dress lying in your closet and do yourself proud!

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