Skip to content

How to Alter a Dress to Make It Bigger — Get it Done in 8 easy steps

You have your perfect dress for an event coming up-but something isn’t quite right- your dress doesn’t fit. This is a disappointing situation to be in. Discovering that your dress doesn’t fit at the last minute can really get you down. This is where alteration comes in. Do you know you can alter your dress to fit you even if it is just for the event? Yes, there are ways to adjust your dress when it happens to be too tight on you. Let’s take a look at how to alter a dress to make it bigger. This should come in handy when you are in a pinch.

What to Know Before Altering A Dress

Do Not Wait till The Last Minute

It is always best to take all adjustments to your tailor since they are professionals in the field. So, ensure you don’t wait till it is too late to go to the tailor. You might end up meeting a queue so long and probably might not get to have it altered at all.

Materials Are Always Different

All materials are not the same and you should always take note of that. Because one stretches out does not mean another would. Also, just because one material takes less time to adjust does not mean a different one will be the same.

Always Try to Buy Your Size

Yes, it might seem tempting to buy a dress that is bigger or smaller than you. However, it is advisable that you don’t. Not all dresses can be altered. Additionally, dress alteration can be very expensive.

Steps To Let Out A Dress Bigger To Make It Bigger

Adjusting your dress is not a big deal but you should know that not all dresses can be altered. Here are some steps you can follow when you want to alter a dress to make it bigger.

Get the Tools

To alter your dress either to make it bigger or smaller, you will need to have some tools ready. Here are some tools you will need to get for this:

  1. Chalk or marking pen
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Sewing machine
  4. Pressing iron
  5. Matching thread
  6. The dress
  7. Stitching ripper

The list above will help you so you don’t spend too much getting unnecessary items.

Verify If Alteration Is Possible

One very important thing you should always consider before altering any dress is to know if it can be adjusted. Not all dresses or even outfits can be adjusted no matter how you like them, regardless of the size. Compared to formal gowns or wedding dresses that have additional stitching, some casual dresses might get you stuck. So, to verify if you can actually alter your dress, turn it inside out and look closely at the stitching on the side. There should be some extra material at the side stitching and should be either folded or enclosed depending on the dress or stitching. If your dress doesn’t have any extra material at the stitching, then you can’t alter it.

Get Your Proportions

After confirming that your dress can be altered, what you need to know is how much bigger it should be. To know this, you need to get your proportions, which is where the measuring tape comes in. Take proportions of the area where you want your dress to be adjusted, like your waist, arm, hips, etc. To be safe, you can take your full proportions and write them down on paper so you won’t forget them.

Take the Dress Proportions

Now you need to know the proportions of the dress so you can get the accurate increase you need. To do this, you get your measuring tape and measure one side of the dress you want to alter. Once this is done, multiply the number of the proportions to get the accurate figure for the proportions. After that, subtract the figure you have from that of your own proportions, then divide the result by 2. The final figure is the number in inches that you have to let out on each side.

Verify the Extra Material Length

Another issue that might come up now is a shortage in the length of the extra material on your dress. If the extra material is not enough to match the increase you need then you are stuck. A professional tailor might be able to work around it, but it might be difficult especially in an emergency. Once you have enough extra material to match the increase you need on your dress, then you can proceed.

Put on The Dress

It’s not just about calculating proportions, you also have to be sure if you are really comfortable in the dress. So, what you do is wear the dress with it still inside out and make some marks on it. You start from the upper part where it feels tight down to the part where it feels comfortable on you. This helps you decide the amount of stitching you will need to remove for the adjustment.

Remove the Dress Stitching’s

Now, after marking the points on the dress, you take off the dress and begin to remove the stitching. Here is where you need the stitching ripper to work, which is why it’s on the item list. Get your stitching ripper and pick a side on your dress where you start removing the stitching from it. You should start doing this from the parts you marked at the top to the ones marked at the bottom. Always be extra careful when removing the stitching, so you don’t accidentally tear the material while at it.

Sew the Dress

Now it’s time to make some finishes to the dress after making the adjustments you need. In this situation, it depends on the kind of stitching that your dress had initially  folded or enclosed. If your dress has enclosed stitching, then you do not need to go through sewing it back up.

Enclosed stitching are like having two layers of stitching so except the external stitching is bad, you are done adjusting. On the other hand, if you happen to be dealing with a folded stitching, you will need to sew it. With your proportions, mark the part where you want to put the new stitching then sew it back. Hand sewing is a no go so this is a job for your sewing machine, use it for a neat and accurate finish. After that, get your pressing iron and press the stitching so it stays flat on the dress and you’re done.

How To Alter A Dress To Make It Bigger


In many situations, you might need to perform some emergency fixes on any part of your dress. Regardless of the event or casual outing you are attending, you will always want to wear a comfortable dress. Sometimes you get enough time to meet your tailor but what if your tailor doesn’t stay close to you? You will need to do the adjustments on your own but worry not, the steps above can help you. It is easy enough to do even if you have no experience so adjusted your dress and enjoy your outing.