How to Alter a Dress


Altering an outdated thrift store dress is a fun and frugal way to update your wardrobe. This dress happened to sport a navy blue gingham pattern that never goes out of style, but the fit was so unflattering. With a few snips of the scissors and some well-placed new side seams, you can transform an old dress into a fabulous new outfit.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Things You'll Need

  • Straight pins
  • Sharp scissors
  • Dress form (optional)
  • Sewing machine with an universal 90/14 needle
  • Iron and ironing board
(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 1

Put the dress on and have a helper mark your newly desired length with a pin. Take the dress off and measure from the pin down to the existing hem. Subtract an inch from this measurement to allow for a hem. Mark this new length from the existing hem around the entire dress with a piece of chalk or a washable marking pen.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 2

Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut off the bottom of the dress along the marks.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 3

Turn the dress inside out and put the dress back on or use a dress form if you have one. Have a friend pin the side seams to fit your shape.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 4

Take the dress off and sew along the pin lines. Be sure to remove the pins as you sew.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 5

Trim the new seams and finish them with any of the methods found in this article: 6 Easy Ways to Finish a Seam Without a Serger. Press the seams open with an iron.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 6

To hem your dress, press 1/4 inch under toward the wrong side of the fabric.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 7

Fold 1/2 inch under again and press so the raw edge is concealed.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Step 8

Use a 90/14 universal needle to sew the hem in place.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Style your new dress with a jean shirt, tights, boots and scarf for a fall or winter look, or wear it with some strappy sandals and a cardigan in the spring or summer.

(Image: Beth Huntington)
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