How to Make a Dress Bigger

You might think you have to leave that perfect knit dress behind in the dressing room because it's too small. Or, perhaps your favorite knit dress has become too tight and it's in the bag ready to go to the thrift store. Instead of walking away from those dresses, salvage them in a stylish way by adding some fabric panels to the sides.

How to let out a dress
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Things You'll Need

Gather your supplies.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington
  • 2 yards of coordinating knit fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine with a medium ball point needle

Step 1

Measure the side seams.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Measure all the way up the side seams of the dress with a measuring tape. Add 1/2 inch for a hem to this measurement. Write this number down.

Step 2

Measure the arm seams.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Measure all the way down the arm seams with a measuring tape. Add 1/2 inch to this measurement for a hem. Add this number to the side seam measurement from above. Use this combined measurement when cutting your long inset strips from your coordinating knit fabric.

Step 3

Cut two side inset strips.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Cut two long strips to inset into the sides of your dress from your coordinating knit fabric. The strips will measure 4 inches wide by the number you calculated in the above step.

Step 4

Hem both ends of the strips.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Hem both ends of each strip. Fold under 1/2 inch, press with an iron, pin and sew using a medium zig-zag stitch with a ball point needle.

Step 5

Cut open the side seams.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut open both sides seams. Start at the bottom of the dress and cut all the way up the side seams and then down the sleeve seams. Cut off the old seam stitching.

Step 6

Pin the strips to the sides of the dress.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Pin one long side of the coordinating fabric strip to one side of the dress with the right sides together. Start at the bottom and pin all the way up the side and then all the way down the arm. Match the ends of the strips with the hem of the dress and the hem of the sleeve. Repeat on the other side of the dress.

Step 7

Sew the side seams.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Use a medium length zig-zag stitch and a ball point needle to sew a 1/2-inch seam. Do this on both sides of the dress.

Step 8

Pin and sew the other side of the dress.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Flip the dress over and with the right sides together, pin and sew the other side of the strip to the other side of the dress with a 1/2-inch seam. Do this on both sides.

Step 9

Press the seams open.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Press the side and sleeve seams open with an iron. No need to finish the seams since the knit fabric won't fray.

Finished

A stylish side panel adds a fresh look to a plain dress.
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Now, your favorite dress will fit you perfectly again, and you can enjoy wearing it for many more years.