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How to Make a Dress Shorter: Easy and Affordable Methods

Dresses come in different sizes and lengths. Some dresses look best with the flowing, droopy look. Others are best with shorter hems making them look chic and cute. There are many reasons why you might want to shorten the hem of your dress. For one, it could be that it came in the perfect size but features a hem that is a tad too long, sweeping the floor wherever you go. Another could be a possible stain on the lower part of the hem of your dress. A solution will be to cut off the lower hem, leaving a chic shorter hem.

Or maybe you need a short dress for an event, and all you got are the long flowing ones, and you feel the need to make a slight alteration and revamp but don’t know how to make a dress shorter.

Whatever your reasons might be, it is imperative to note that your dress only comes out great at the end if it is done the right way. Shortening the hem of skirts is undoubtedly not the same for all kinds of dresses. Shortening an A-line dress is different than shortening the hem of the chiffon gathered skirt. The expertise needed to trim a high-low dress is different from that of a wedding dress. However it comes, shortening a dress does have quite several steps in common, and we will be walking you through the different methods.

Two Ways to Shorten a Dress

You can take two ways when looking to shorten your dress: a permanent way and a quick way. Sometimes, you trim your dress to achieve a particular look, that doesn’t mean you do not like it long as well. Who says you can’t eat your cake and have it? Because with the methods shared, you certainly can. A permanent alteration on your dress most likely involves some scissors-ing. Even at that, there are still creative ways you can get a permanently shortened dress. So let’s get right to it!

Tools needed to shorten a dress

If you have it in mind to shorten that dress, it’s wise to have all your tools in one place and ready to go! Using the wrong materials or equipment or improvising with inaccurate implements when shortening your dress can damage the clothing ultimately. Here are a few of the essential tools to have at hand when shortening a dress: measuring tape, scissors, sewing machine or hand machine, iron, hem tape, fabric glue, safety pins, marking chalk, ruler (for straight lines), needle and thread.

How To Make A Dress Shorter

Now that we have that out of the way let’s go right into how you can shorten your dress. We would start with general steps and split them off into permanent and temporary methods.

Determine the new length

If you want to shorten that dress, you must know what length you would like to get it. An old favorite is to get a dress with the preferred size.

Here is how to use an existing gown of preferred length to get the new size of your dress

  1. Take the dress having the preferred length and place it directly on top of one another. Ensure that the dresses are on their odd sides
  2. Using the shorter dress as the base trace out the new length of the gown with the help of marking chalk. It is essential to leave an inch or two after tracing out at the hem of the dress. This is known as the hemming/folding allowance. With this in place, you will end up with the perfect and exact length even after hemming

Note: For flared, gathered, high-low, and ruffled gowns it is essential to stretch it out thoroughly (both dresses) on top of each other, so you get an exact measurement. Watch out for folds in dresses to avoid the varying size of the hem. Also, try on the model dress to ensure it is still of the length you require.

Fashion Designer Hands With Dress And Measure Tape. Side View

The second method to get the preferred length of your dress is to measure it out using a measuring tape and marking chalk.

Here is how to get your new length with a measuring tape and a marking chalk

  1. Get your measurement either with the hem of a friend or personally. However, to get exact results, a friend is a better option. It is also wise to have your basic body measurements taken and kept somewhere. This helps make the process fast when making alterations to your dress and should be updated from time to time.
  2. After the measurement has been made, measure the same length on your dress, adding one inch for hemming allowance, so after folding, it all jumps back to the perfect size.
  3. Mark out with chalk, and with this all spread out, you can go ahead to make the changes in whatever method you choose

One thing to note is that, even with this method, the possibility of an uneven hem is feasible. To prevent this, ensure to spread out that dress properly and perfectly before beginning to alter the length of the dress.

Side Tip: Different Hem Lengths

We have seven hem-length zones. They are;

  1. Occasionally: This is the toe length dress and is most accustomed to certain types of occasions
  2. Fashionista: It expressed the bold, fashion curious look with its maxi length
  3. Conservative: Extending way more below the knee but not up to the fashionista
  4. Formal: Very common in official settings and formal meetings, sitting just right below the knee
  5. Smart Casual: Considered as a blend of formal and informal, the smart casual is the length that sits precisely above the knee
  6. Playful: Flirty, playful, chic, however you call it; thus, length starts at the mid-thigh
  7. Danger Zone: Considered as the shortest of them all. It is the mini length and above, starting way above the mid-thigh

Here are the different lengths to keep in mind when shortening a dress. Now that you have marked out that preferred length.

How To Shorten Your Dress (With And Without Cutting It)

Let’s get into different methods of shortening, starting with the temporary methods and sliding right into the permanent ones.

Use a Hem Tape

Hem tapes are double-sided, transparent, heat-sensitive tapes that hold two sides of fabric firmly together. It is highly effective in keeping that hem without the need for scissors or sewing machines.

How to use a hemming tape

  1. Take an iron, fold the dress at the line between the hemming allowance and the length itself, giving you a small, inner one-inch fold at the end.
  2.  Iron on it to mark out the line, making it easy to place your tape on the right side.
  3.  Place your tape on the hem of the dress and fold it in to attach to the inner part.
  4.  Run it through with an iron and your dress will comes out the perfect length thanks to the allowance

Use fabric glue

Fabric glue works in the same way as the hemming tape. It is a perfect alternative for hemming tape. They both use the same steps; the only difference is, instead of applying a tape, you apply the fabric glue instead, fold it into gum onto the inner part, and you’re good to go! No stitches are required.

Use Safety Pins

The first thing to note is that this method is best for dresses with the light material. Heavy dresses with ruffled or gathered hems do not work so well with safety pins.

I. After you have marked out the preferred length, ensure it is unanimous across the dress’ circumference

II. Fold it into the two layers meet each other just as you will fold back that bag of chips

III. Using the safety pins, pin both layers together. When pinning, ensure to limit the spaces in-between them so you don’t have a rogue hem sticking out in places

Please do not alternate a safety pin with an office pin to avoid injuries and hazards.

Use a Belt

Using a belt to shorten a dress is only effective when all you need is a few centimeters off. Here’s how to do it

  1. Get a belt around your waist area. Avoid making it too tight nor too loose
  2. Pull up a few centimeters of the dress above the belt, raising it off the ground. Avoid overdoing it, so the top part of your dress does not look blousy or loose.

Cut and Sew

This remains a top method and, if done well, leaves no stain, pin marks, or uneven hem on the circumference of the dress. Here’s how to do it!

  1. After marking out, cut away the excesses
  2. Fold it in and take it down to the sewing area. Depending on how good you are with both, you can decide to use a needle and thread or a sewing machine.
  3. Sew on a straight line, holding both layers together. Ensure to use the same color thread, except you want to add a bit of color and style. with the hem

And your dress is good to go!

Smiling Female Designer Cutting Cloth

These are all simple and easy alteration styles to adopt when making your dress shorter. To learn more tips on dresses and everything about them, visit the 3rd floor tailors blog or let us to take care of your garment.