How to Cut and Sew a Dress Shorter? Update 06/2022

When I borrowed a dress for a formal event, I discovered the skirt was too short for me! For a borrowed dress, I couldn’t change it permanently, so I made do with the borrowed length. The good news is that if you’re looking for an immediate solution, you may quickly learn how to cut the length of a dress!

In order to shorten a dress you should measure the new length and then either hand or machine-stitch the new hem. Using hem tape or fabric adhesive might potentially result in a dress that is permanently shortened. You can shorten your outfit by using safety pins or a belt, or by using knotting techniques.

You’ll find seven simple ways to make a dress or skirt shorter in this post. You’ll also get some pointers on how to gauge the length of a skirt. You will also find detailed instructions on how to change a high-low dress, a dress with a ruffle, and other dresses with curved hems.

How to Shorten a Dress

What Length Skirt Do You Want?

Think about how long you want your skirt to be before you chop off your dress’s hem.

With a little help from a friend or family member, measuring the length of your skirt will go much more simply! As a result, it’s a simple matter of measuring yourself to determine the appropriate length for your figure.

The best place to begin is by determining your natural waist measurement (the most narrow part of your torso). Relax your shoulders and put your feet firmly on the ground in a casual position. A measuring tape should be placed around your waist, and the rest of it should be dangling down.

Determine the length of your skirt by looking in the mirror. Mini, midi, and tea-length skirts all fall below your knees, but maxi skirts are typically longer than knee-length.

You might ask a friend to measure the distance while you remain completely motionless. Then you’ll know just how long your skirt should be to fit your body type.

Of course, your body type should be taken into account while choosing a skirt style. Shorter dresses are a terrific option if you’re petite and look excellent in miniskirts. Even the most formal of dresses can be found in shorter lengths to highlight your physique.

How to make a long dress short

Conversely, floor-length formal gowns and long maxi skirts look stunning on tall women. Pencil skirts look great on curvy bodies, and a high-waist midi skirt will set off an apple-shaped body.

It’s finally time to get out that dress for the alterations. Measure the skirt to your desired length by following these simple steps:

  1. Regain your normal position and enlist the assistance of a friend once more.
  2. Measure your waist with a tape measure.
  3. Ask a buddy to draw a line with chalk on the skirt to indicate the ideal length. Ask a buddy to mark the twenty-inch point on your midi skirt, for example, if you want it to be twenty inches long to sit just above your knee.
  4. Then, go around the skirt a few more times.
  5. Make a clean chalk line by taking off the skirt.

Alternatively, you can perform the following procedures to take your own measurements of the skirt:

  1. As previously mentioned, determine the required length for the skirt.
  2. Measure the length of the present skirt.
  3. Take the current length and subtract the desired length. Take twenty from twenty-five if the skirt is now twenty inches long but you need it at twenty inches. This means that you’ll need to cut the bottom of the skirt by five inches.
  4. Get an accurate reading from your skirt’s hemline by using an appropriate measuring device. Make a chalk mark here to indicate where you want others to look.
  5. Continue working your way around the skirt’s perimeter.

There are a few straightforward ways to shorten a dress now that you have your chosen length and have measured the skirt to that length!

How to Shorten a Dress: 7 Easy Methods

How to temporarily shorten a dress

Dresses can be trimmed and sewn into a reduced length permanently, folded up, and fastened in a variety of ways to make them shorter.

To get the most out of these techniques, you’ll need to put in the time and effort necessary to perform the measurements outlined above. Without this, you risk having a skewed hem that swings up and down all over your body!

1. Hem by Hand

It’s only by hand that you can achieve a genuinely refined hem. This procedure is employed by tailors and even haute couture apparel designers! It is possible to achieve an almost undetectable stitch line on the outside of the dress by hand-hemming it.

  1. Make sure you measure your skirt as mentioned earlier before you begin sewing.
  2. Two inches below your intended length, draw a second line. Extra fabric should be trimmed if it extends over the two-inch mark.
  3. Then, iron a half-inch strip of fabric toward the wrong side of the skirt, and you’re done! Instead of ironing, use pins or sewing clips to secure this fold if you’re working with heat-sensitive fabric.
  4. Then, one and a half inches above this new fold, use a tape measure or sewing gauge to take your measurement.
  5. Refold the fabric so that the wrong side is now facing outward. Using the first half-inch of the fold, you’ll create a clean, folded-over inner edge on a 1-and-12-inch deep fold this time.
  6. Iron the second fold if you are able to do so.
  7. Sewing pins or sewing clips can be used to secure the folded edge.
  8. Cut a length of thread the same color as your dress of about eighteen inches. Set up your sewing machine by threading it and then tying a knot at the end.
  9. Hemming stitches come in a variety of styles. Creating a slip stitch is both beautiful and simple! To create this stitch, insert your needle through the folded-over hem from the inside of the fabric.
  10. Keep pulling on the needle until it catches on back of hem.
  11. Then, from the front of the cloth, poke the needle tip through it to see if it’s there. The needle’s tip should be delicately edged over two or three threads on the fabric’s surface. A tiny stitch is left on the outside of the cloth when you push down on the needle tip and bring it back to the inside of the skirt.
  12. Inside the skirt, sew a half-inch stitch along the top of the fold.
  13. Another tiny stitch on the outside of the hem can be made by piercing the needle back into the dress and easing it over two or three threads.
  14. It’s time to finish the hem by knotting the thread at the end of each half-inch interval!

It’s a good idea to practice the hemstitch on a scrap of fabric before attempting this technique. It’s also worth noting that hand hemming does take time! However, you’ll be blown away by how beautiful it is.

2. Hem with Sewing Machine

Temporary hem dress

When stitching a hem, you can do it in a variety of ways, but the simplest is to fold the hem in half and stitch it in place. Except for sheers, this can be used on any sort of fabric.

  1. Measure the length of your dress in accordance with the instructions given before. Cutting any surplus fabric is as simple as doubling this measurement.
  2. The sewing guidelines on the needle plate of your sewing machine can be used to rapidly sew a line of stitches around the bottom edge of the skirt.
  3. The bottom of the cloth should be folded up within the skirt so that it meets the stitch line. Fold a half-inch of fabric inside your dress.
  4. The fold can be pressed or pinned into place.
  5. Turn the half-inch fold toward the dress’s interior once more. As before, you’ll have a half-inch fold with an enclosed edge on both the top and bottom of it.
  6. Again, press or pin the double fold to the fabric in order to secure it.
  7. On the outside of the dress, sew along the hem. Sew a straight stitch a quarter inch from the folded bottom edge of the hem using the machine’s guidelines.

Advanced sewing machine techniques like a blind hem foot or a rolled hem foot can also be used, depending on your comfort level. The hemming process can be greatly accelerated by using these instruments after some practice.

3. Hem tape

You can also use fusible hem tape to get an easier but still professional-looking hem. Just a roll of fusible tape, a tape measure, and an iron are all that’s required!

Heat-activated adhesive is embedded in a tiny, nearly transparent strip of webbing called hem tape. Most sewing and quilting stores carry it, as well as Amazon and Etsy.

The hem will be permanently shortened by this procedure, despite the fact that it requires far less time and work. You won’t have to worry about the adhesive tape coming off after repeated launderings if you press it in between two layers of fabric.

  1. Take a fresh hem measurement and note it on the fabric. You can either trim the extra or fold it under, depending on how much cloth is left below the required hem length. It’s far easier to fold an inch under than it is to cut it off when shortening the hem.
  2. In order to finish, iron the folded portion. First, make sure your dress’ fabric can withstand the heat.
  3. Repeat the process of unfolding the hem.
  4. Remove the hem tape from the roll. It should be parallel to your hem’s wrinkle when you line it up.
  5. Overlap the ends of the tape and re-fold the fabric.
  6. To activate the glue and secure your hem, run an iron over the folded edge one final time.

Because it doesn’t need a lot of money, time, or effort, this is a great option!

However, it cannot be used on fabrics that are readily destroyed by heat. Inside your dress, check the manufacturer’s label to see if it can be ironed.

4. Fabric Glue

For those who are afraid of hand-sewing, fabric glue is an alternative. Sewing may be time consuming and tedious, so this is a good alternative. Unfortunately, the glue seeps through to the fabric’s surface in stiff places, so it doesn’t always appear as clean as you’d like.

As a result, even heat-sensitive fabrics like polyester can be treated using this procedure.

  1. The first step is to determine the length of your skirt by taking a measurement and marking it on the fabric. To make a new hem when shortening by less than an inch, simply fold over the excess fabric. Cut off the additional length if you need to remove more.
  2. In order to obtain a perfect crease, you can either iron the folded edge or use your fingers to gently crease the new fold in place.
  3. To finish the bottom of the dress, apply a very thin line of fabric adhesive.
  4. Put glue between the two pieces of fabric and fold the new hem over it.
  5. For twenty-four hours, let the glue harden.

It’s hard to remove once the fabric adhesive has dried. After the 24-hour resting time, you can safely wash your dress.

5. Safety pins

Dress too long quick fix

The quickest and simplest technique to shorten a dress is to use strategically positioned safety pins. Now, you should probably only use this method in the event of a real emergency, as it isn’t the most sturdy or professional-looking option!

Safety pins, on the other hand, can work wonders in a pinch!

  1. Determine how much extra length you’ll need, and then fold it inside.
  2. Iron the folded-over edge if you can, so that the bottom of the new hem has a nice wrinkle in it. Make sure the label on the clothing specifies that it can be ironed beforehand.
  3. Next, look for the dress’ side seams on the inside.
  4. Sew the side seams together after folding the hem over. The hem of the dress will be kept in place by using this technique on both sides.
  5. Lastly, pin the front and back of the new hem to the garment as well. Using a safety pin on a heavy dress will hide it from view on the exterior of the garment. If your dress is really thin, even if you carefully insert the safety pin, you may still see a small portion of it.

That’s all there is to it! Keep a couple safety pins in your bag, backpack, or pocketbook as a backup plan in case of an emergency.

6. Belt

Wearing a belt can shorten a dress if you’re in a pinch! A maxi dress or a flowing sundress are ideal for this strategy. It won’t work on a dress with a tight bodice.

  1. The belt should be a tad looser than normal.
  2. Pull the dress up from the waist with a light tug. Ideally, part of the fabric will poof out and drape over the top of the belt as a result of this adjustment.
  3. Repeat this process all the way around your waist until a small amount of fabric protrudes above the belt’s top.
  4. Make sure the hem of the dress hangs equally by checking in a mirror to see if you’ve pulled the dress through the belt evenly all the way around.
  5. The length of your dress has been reduced by a few centimeters!

7. Knot

Tie a knot to take up some of the extra fabric to shorten a loose, flowing dress. You could compare this to the stylish adolescent style of shortening your t-shirt by tying a knot at the hem.

In addition to the side of the hem, you can place this knot at your waist or thigh.

It’s time to tie a knot!

  1. Make a decision on where you want to place the knot.
  2. This is the perfect spot to gather a tube-shaped collection of cloth.
  3. Form a simple knot by wrapping the tube around and under itself many times.
  4. To tighten the knot, pull on the loose end.
  5. Optional: leave the loose end hang loose for an easygoing look, or pin it inside the garment.

How to Shorten a Dress From the Waist

You can even shorten a dress around the waist if you want to call yourself a “refashionista.” As you saw earlier, temporary solutions like tying a knot or using a belt work well.

Slicing and stitching are necessary if you want to permanently modify the dress’s waistline.

It is necessary to remove the center section of the dress before reattaching the bodice and skirt. An elastic-waist dress is a good candidate for this adjustment, but a fitted dress and a maxi dress aren’t.

Most dresses allow for a three-inch to four-inch reduction in this way.

Make sure to replace the waist elastic or insert pintucks, gathers and pleating to make the wide opening of the skirt fit the smaller shape of your bodice.

It’s worth noting that many sewing designs provide instructions on how to trim the waistline of a garment before it’s even sewn.

Can You Cut a Dress to Make it Shorter?

To shorten a dress, you can trim the hem, but you must take precise measurements first to avoid tearing the skirt. For most types of cloth, you’ll also need a means to finish the raw edge so that it doesn’t fray.

There are many ways to finish a raw edge, but these are a few to consider:

  • It is possible to finish the edge of a light satin or sheer textile with an overlock stitch using a serger.
  • With the exception of sheers and knits, most textiles can have a double hem folded over and stitched in place with a sewing machine.
  • Pinking shears can be used to give cotton and knits a particular, slightly ragged look.
  • When working with knits, just fold the fabric in half and stitch the hem in place using a zig-zag stitch.
  • The bottom edge of the skirt can be embellished with a ribbon, lace, or ruffle. A hem isn’t necessary when you use this method, and you get the extra bonus of a decorative bottom to your dress!

How to Make a Long Dress Shorter Temporarily

Using safety pins to pin up the hem of a long dress is the quickest way to make it shorter for the time being. Not exactly a classy solution, but it will save you from tripping over your excessively long skirt!

In a pinch, you may simply turn under the excess fabric and attach it to the inside of the dress with little pieces of duct tape. That said, the fabric could be left with a sticky residue.

Dress length can be alleviated by fashionably knotting the dress at your waist, thigh, or at the bottom. Using this last-minute adjustment on a maxi dress you bought at the beach is a terrific idea!

Finally, a belt can be used to cut a long dress in half. Pull some fabric up over the top of your belt and cinch it down. It offers you a beautiful, relaxed silhouette and shortens the dress’ skirt by a few inches!

How to Shorten a Dress With a Ruffle

How to make a dress tighter at the waist

There is no more complicated method for shortening an outfit with a ruffle than removing the ruffle, trimming a few inches from the skirt, and then sewing it back on! Dresses with beautiful lace or frills at the bottom are the easiest to alter.

  1. The first step is to flip the dress over.
  2. Cut through the lace or ruffle’s side seam with care.
  3. After that, remove all of the lace or ruffle from the dress’s hem. Make an effort to maintain a straight and even cut line.
  4. Decide how much of the dress you want to shorten. Cut the bottom of the skirt by half an inch by subtracting this measurement from the skirt’s length. Three inches of fabric can be removed by chopping off two and a half inches of fabric.
  5. It is important to match up all of the edges when sewing a ruffle to a skirt.
  6. Reconnect the ruffle to the bottom of the dress by sewing half an inch from this cut line around the skirt.
  7. To prevent fraying, zigzag the raw edge of this seam.

How to Shorten a Dress with a Curved Hem

How to Shorten a Dress With a Ruffle

There are numerous ways to condense a curved-hem garment. Curved hems are tricky to sew because the outer edge has a larger circumference than the interior part. This means that when you turn the hem over, the raw hem edge will be larger than the skirt’s interior.

In order to get stunningly beautiful curved hems, experts employ either easing stitches or facings. However, this straightforward approach eliminates the need for time-consuming sewing steps while still producing a polished result.

To make a dress with a curved hem shorter, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the skirt to your desired length, then cut away any excess fabric that may exist. Make sure you measure and cut the skirt precisely so that it retains its round shape.
  2. Look for a ribbon that has a similar color to the fabric of your dress, but stands out more. Ribbon should be one inch longer than the dress’s hem.
  3. Once you’ve done so, pin a ribbon to the dress’s exterior such that the ribbon’s reverse is positioned on top of the dress’s reverse. Overhang the bottom edge of the fabric by half the ribbon’s width.
  4. Along the ribbon’s upper edge, sew it to the fabric.
  5. To hide the ribbon, simply turn it under so that it is no longer visible from the front of the gown. The ribbon will look lovely hidden inside the skirt with this method.
  6. Make sure the folded edge is pressed and pinned in place.
  7. Inside the skirt, sew around the ribbon’s peak one more time. The gold-over ribbon will be secured to the inside of the skirt using this stitch, resulting in a stunning hem!

How Do You Shorten a High-Low Dress

In order to shorten the back area of a high-low dress, you should utilize the curved hem method.

It’s common for high-low dresses to have two different kinds of hems: one in the front, and one behind. While both curved hems may be necessary to fit you correctly, it is possible that only the longer rear curve of the dress can be shortened.

If your hem is curved, you won’t get the best results using hem tape or safety pins. To give your high-low dress a polished appearance, you’ll need to sew on a new hem.

Using a serger, a rolled hemstitch can be simply created along the raw edge. A folded-over hem doesn’t require as much measuring when using this method, which is great for lightweight or sheer materials.

Conclusion

A new hem, hem tape, or fabric adhesive can all be used to permanently shorten a dress. The excess material in the skirt can be held in place with a belt or pinned up with safety pins. All of these techniques can be used to temporarily shorten a dress.

Cutting off the waist section and then reattaching the bodice to the skirt or stitching a curved hem are more complicated methods for shortening a dress. You can also shorten a dress by removing a few inches of cloth from the hem above a ruffle, and then reattaching the ruffle.

Have you ever attempted to make a dress shorter? Do you know the method that you used? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

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