How to Alter a Skirt

Perhaps you've lost some weight and your favorite skirt is now too big. Or maybe you found the perfect skirt and the only one left was a size too large. Paying for the needed alterations to save these skirts can get expensive, but with just a little sewing experience, you can alter the skirt yourself and save lots of cash.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Things You'll Need

  • Pins

  • Seam ripper

  • Dress form (optional)

  • Sewing machine with a universal 90/14 needle

  • Sharp scissors

  • Iron and ironing board

  • Hand-sewing needle


This alteration works best for a skirt with the zipper in the back.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 1

If you're not changing the hemline of the skirt, use a seam ripper to remove 4 inches of hem stitching on each side of the side seams. If you're shortening or lengthening the skirt, remove the entire hem with the seam ripper.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 2

Put your skirt on inside out and have a friend pin down both side seams of the skirt so it fits you perfectly. Make sure both sides are pinned evenly.

(Image: Beth Huntington)


You can use a dress form for this step if you happen to have one, but it isn't necessary.

Step 3

Measure the distance from the pins (which will become your new seam line) to the original side seam stitching. Remember this measurement to use later.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 4

Remove the pins from the side seams. Use a seam ripper to remove 4 inches of waistband stitching on either side of the side seams.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 5

Use the seam ripper to open the side seams of the waistband and the waistband facing.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 6

With the right sides together, use the measurement from the pin line to pin the new seam line on the waistband. For example, if your friend pinned 3/4 inch in from each original seam line, then you will pin 3/4 inch in from the original seam line.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 7

Continue to pin this measurement in from the original seam line down the entire skirt.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 8

Sew along the pin line, removing the pins as you sew.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 9

Trim the seams to create a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 10

Use an iron to press open the seam allowances.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 11

Topstitch close to the new seams on the waistband, on the facing and down each side of the skirt.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 12

Re-pin and sew the opened waistband and facing seams. Remove the pins as you sew.

Pin and resew the waistband seams. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 13

Fold the waistband facing back under the waistband and topstitch close to the top edge.

Fold the waistband facing under and topstitch. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 14

Use a hand sewing needle and a blind hem stitch to resew the hem. If you are shortening or lengthening the skirt, press and pin the new hem line to your desired length, then stitch.

Resew the hem using a hem stitch. (Image: Beth Huntington)

Now you have the perfect fit.

Close up picture of altered skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)
Finished view of the altered skirt. (Image: Beth Huntington)