How to Make a Too-Small Skirt Fit (Too Big or Long) Update 05/2022

What could be more comfy than a waistline made of elastic? Elastic waistbands give and give and give no matter how big your lunch is. However, an elastic waistline that does not fit precisely might be quite irritating. Fortunately, it’s also simple to correct. If you can, enlist the help of a friend: because you’ll be wearing the skirt for the first half of the process, an extra set of hands will be useful.

Don’t worry if you have a skirt hanging in your wardrobe that is a touch too big for you. With a few tweaks, you might have it fitting like a glove in no time.

Altering a Skirt That is Too Small

A sewing machine, a pair of scissors, and a handful of pins are all you’ll need.

The Method

Step 1

At the waist, measure both yourself and the skirt. Calculate how much extra width you’ll need to add to the skirt to make it comfortable using the dimensions you’ve taken. Cut two lengths of the flexible fabric: one should be the same length as your skirt plus a 2cm allowance, and the other should be half the entire width needed plus a 2cm allowance.

Step 2

The skirt’s side seams should be opened.

Step 3

Right sides facing, pin both pieces of stretchable fabric to one skirt side and sew along the new seam.

Step 4

Place the skirt piece, right side up, on a work area with the flexible fabric connected. Place the right side down second skirt piece on top. Pin and stitch the second piece to the stretchy fabric pieces.

Step 5

Fit the skirt on your body. Sew another seam at the center of the stretchy cloth to draw it in if it’s now too big.

Step 6

Finish by hemming the top and bottom of the flexible fabric and sealing any raw edges with a zigzag stitch.

How To Alter a Skirt Waist


If there’s one truth in life, it’s that nothing is impossible if you can sew. It certainly isn’t if it entails changing your clothing’s fit. Even the most talented dressmakers could find world peace and hunger to be a stretch.

If the waistline on your skirt isn’t as snug as you’d like, you have three options:

  1. Add some belt loops and a belt to cinch in the waist.
  2. On the inside of the waist, add an elastic band. This will keep the skirt from coming down, but it may not give the ideal fit depending on the style of the skirt. Which leads us to…
  3. Replace the seam. We’ll go over this in more detail in the next section because it provides the most professional appearance.

How To Alter a Skirt That is Too Big in The Waist

If the waistband on your skirt is too big, try this simple trick to bring it in. It’s easy, quick, and looks professional, and it only takes a sewing machine, a few pins, and a little talent to create.

Step 1

Begin by putting the skirt on backwards. Calculate how much the skirt has to be altered, then pin it down the side seams to the desired fit (this might be easier if you can find a willing pair of hands to assist).

Step 2

Remove the skirt with care, being careful not to pierce yourself on the pins.

Step 3

Sew a straight stitch down the inside length of the skirt with a sewing machine (or a needle and thread if you have more patience than time), using the pins as a guide. Finish by sewing a 1/4-inch width reverse stitch at the top and bottom of your newly constructed seam to strengthen it.

Altering a Skirt With an Elastic Waistband


What could be more comfy than a waistline made of elastic? Elastic waistbands give and give and give no matter how big your lunch is. However, an elastic waistline that does not fit precisely might be quite irritating. Fortunately, it’s also simple to correct. If you can, enlist the help of a friend: because you’ll be wearing the skirt for the first half of the process, an extra set of hands will be useful.

What You’ll Require



Machine for Sewing

The Method

Step 1

Insert yourself into the skirt. Cut the seam holding the elastic in place, being careful not to cut through the elastic (here is where that additional pair of hands will come in handy).

Step 2

Remove the elastic from the seam and calculate how much you need to cut it. Fold it in half and secure it with a safety pin. Make any required modifications to get the most comfortable fit possible.

Step 3

Sew the elastic in place where it was folded. Finish by stitching the seam back in place and folding it to suit the new, smaller waistband.

How To Alter a Skirt That is Too Long

It’s simple to modify your skirt to a more comfortable fit if it’s dripping at your feet. If any of the following situations apply, it’s advisable to avoid adjusting the hem and instead shorten the skirt from the waist:

  1. The skirt has pleats in it.
  2. The skirt is cut on the bias or has a unique hem.
  3. The bottom of the skirt features a border or is decorated.

The Approach

Step 1

Begin by calculating how much of the skirt must be eliminated. Simply hop into the skirt (inside out first), then fold it over, one roll at a time, directly under the waistband. Use safety pins to hold the folded layers together once you’ve folded the skirt enough times to reach the desired length.

Step 2

Get your sewing machine ready. Place the rolled-up fabric on one side of the needle, and the waistband and the remainder of the skirt on the other. Stitch all the way around with a zigzag stitch, as near to the waistband as possible.

Step 3

Cut away the excess cloth once you’ve finished stitching. Job done!

How Much Does It Cost To Alter a Skirt?

It’s not always possible to change a skirt oneself. Perhaps it’s too time-consuming, too difficult, or just plain boring. There’s no shame in bringing in the pros for any reason. Costs vary depending on the type of modification required (as well as where you are in the world), but in the United States, expect to pay:

  • A hem adjustment costs $25-$33 (depending on the lining).
  • Allowing a skirt to come in or out at the sides costs $25.
  • A waist correction costs $25.

How To Alter a Skirt Without a Sewing Machine


A sewing machine is useful for alterations, but is it definitely necessary? Absolutely not. If you know how to thread a needle, you can hand sew the same alterations to a skirt as you would with a machine — it will take a bit longer, but the results will be identical.

Don’t panic if even hand sewing is a no-no. There are numerous ways to modify a skirt without sewing a single stitch.

Hem Tape

A roll of hem tape is a great addition to your arsenal because it is inexpensive, exceedingly easy to use, and surprisingly durable. Tape can be used for hemming, repairs, modifications, and adaptations — basically, anything that can be sewn can be taped.


If your waistline is too tight for your comfort, attach a waist extender to the button and breathe.

Pins for Bobby

Is there anything a pair of bobby pins can’t fix? The answer is a resounding no when it comes to attaching, pinching, tucking, or tweaking.

Glue for Fabric

Try fabric glue for size as a stress-free alternative to stitching. If you match the glue formula to the fabric, you’ll be able to make the same modifications as if you used a sewing machine.

Changing a skirt without having to sew

If you’re short, you probably have a lot of skirts in your closet that might use some major hemming. But how can you do it if you don’t have a sewing machine or a needle, and have no plans to get either? Simple. Only 10 minutes, an iron, a few pins, and a roll of hem tape are required (a measuring tape and a pair of scissors might come in handy as well).

The Approach

Step 1

Try on the skirt (you may find it easier to assess the length while wearing the shoes you’ll be wearing with it). Fold the skirt’s hem up to the desired length (this might be easier if you can get a friend to help). Using a succession of straight pins, secure the fold.

Step 2

Remove the skirt and lay it flat on the ground. Measure the length from the original skirt hem to the pins with a measuring tape. Subtract 1 1/2′′ from your measurement and cut away the same amount from the skirt’s bottom. You’ll have a rough edge, but don’t worry; the next step will take care of it.

Step 3

Place the skirt on an ironing board and fold the new hem under by 12 inches. Iron in place the fold, then fold under another 12″ and iron again.

Step 4

Cut a strip of hem tape and sandwich it between your new hem’s folds. Iron in place (to get the hem tape to work, press each region for about 10 seconds).

Step 5

Turn the skirt right way out and press it again after pressing the hem tape in place around the entire hem. And there you have it — a fantastic new fit with no visible stitches!

Can You Alter a Leather Skirt?

Although altering a real or imitation leather skirt is not impossible, it does present some difficulties. Any holes you make with a pin or a needle will leave a lasting mark; if you’re a beginner seamstress who is prone to errors, it’s probably advisable to have the skirt professionally tailored instead.

Go ahead and attempt it yourself if you have enough experience or confidence. Just remember…

  • Pins should be avoided. Almost never.
  • On your sewing machine, only use a leather needle.
  • Sewing through leather might be difficult for your machine, so go slowly and steadily.
  • Use a Teflon, or even your foot.
  • Before beginning your final job, test the machine tension.

Can You Alter a Pleated Skirt?

Pleated skirts might be difficult to adjust, but not impossible if you follow specific principles.

  • Always start at the top and work your way down, regardless of the type of change you’re making. A pleated skirt’s lower hem is different from other skirt hems and should be left alone.
  • Shorten a skirt from the waist: If you need to shorten a skirt from the waist, use the approach described earlier. This is the most effective method for preserving the pleats and ensuring that they survive the shortening process without being damaged.

Is it possible to change a denim skirt?

Have a denim skirt that’s a bit too big to wear but you can’t bear to part with? There is, however, a way to save it.

The Approach

Step 1

Both the skirt and yourself should be measured around the waist. Subtract your measurement from the skirt’s measurement and divide by two to find out how much to cut off either side of the waistline.

Step 2

Unpick the stitches along the width of the waistband on both sides with a seam ripper. Remove as much of the waistband as possible by unpicking it.

Step 3

Inside out, turn the waistband. To close, pin and sew. Turn the waistband inside out and trim the excess.

Step 4

To make a smooth line, fold the fabric directly below the new waistline and sew it in place. The new waistband should be pinned and sewn in place.

How To Alter a Skirt Pattern

Patterns are designed for “average” persons with “average” measurements, although we all know there is no such thing. While changing a skirt pattern may appear difficult at first, it’s actually rather simple once you understand the principles.

Try these helpful hints for the best results:

Check your measurements twice

Never estimate or guess measures. The number one approach to ensure a flawless fit is to take precise body measures, therefore double-check each measurement for accuracy.

Get a Handle on Pattern Grading

Pattern grading may sound complicated, but it’s simply applying a system of measurements to raise or decrease the size of a pattern.

Try the Seam Alteration Method.

Finally, there are 101 different ways to change a sewing design. It’s up to you how you do it, although you could wish to try the seam method of alteration, which entails only modest adjustments to the seam lines. If you’re new to sewing, this is probably the most straightforward approach.

Have fun sewing!

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