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Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post Tutorial How To Re-size A Clearance Dress

Hey all you Bacon Time readers! 
I'm Katie, and I blog over at Creatively Living, where I'm usually showing you our latest house DIY project. 

Today, I thought I'd share with you how to re-size a simple dress. I wrote CLEARANCE dress in the title, because clearance dresses excite me, and right now there are tons of great summer dresses on clearance. With all the heat this year, you will most likely still have tons of time to use them!

This tutorial is obviously not for every clearance dress, and if you're an experienced seamstress, it will probably be common knowledge. 

So, for those of you who are new to your sewing machines, and you want a fun and inexpensive project, this post is for you!

I LOVE a good clearance rack! Target is one of my favorites. It's not hard to find a dress or skirt there for under $10! However, it would make it easier if I could make a few other sizes, besides my own size, fit me!

The dress above I found at the beginning of the summer. Everyone was wearing the oh-so-popular Maxi Dress!
It happened to be on my local Target clearance rack for $8!

So let's begin!

BEFORE YOU SEW...turn your stitch to a stretch stitch. The stretch stitch symbol (on most sewing machines) is the red symbol below. Four rows or three lines on top of one another. 

(This tutorial will be helpful with a dress or skirt made of stretch knit material, or even a skirt with some flare that has an elastic waistband. This way it will be stretchy and you won't have to be so careful, or add buttons or zippers.)

* there isn't actually a stretch stitch on my very old sewing machine, so you might want to check your sewing manual if you don't see the stretch stitch symbol on your machine. 

Now that your machine is on stretch stitch, try on  your new skirt or dress on INSIDE OUT. Next, pin down the side where you would like your seam to go. Pin this how you would like the skirt or dress to fit, since we will end up cutting along the pinned area. I didn't have anyone around, so I pinned mine myself. 

I decided to adjust my straps later, and just pin down one side of the dress, keeping one original seam on my side. Only re-sewing one seam will help make it easier, and lessen the room for error.

Next take the dress off, lay it on the floor and make sure your pins are decently straight and that they show where you are wanting your new seam to go.  Adjust as necessary and then begin sewing your seam. Sew your seam all the way down the pinned area. (go slow and make sure the fabric is laying flat to avoid puckering!)

Once you're done sewing your new seam, try the dress on again.....just to make sure it fits well. (if for some reason it is not fitting correctly, take the seam out with a seam ripper and try, try again!)

If all is fitting correctly, cut the excess off. 

Next is to deal with the straps. Obviously, if you're dealing with a skirt, you're pretty much done, unless you need to hem it around the bottom. 

To re-attach the straps, look at how the straps were sewn in originally. 
The Maxi Dress I was altering had the straps sewn in between two layers of fabric. Basically, you will be taking the straps off by taking out the seams that attach the straps. Use a seam ripper to rip out the seams. 
I took the inside seams out of the two peices of fabric that were holding the strap in. I ONLY took them out where the strap was (about 1 in wide).

Since you now have a hole, sew it back up with a needle and thread. Try to stitch on the inside of the fabric. Meaning try to stitch where it won't be seen. 

Next, decide where you want your straps and pin. You will probably need to put your dress back on to do this. 

Next, measure where you pinned your straps from where your side seams are. There's nothing worse than sewing your straps on and realizing that they aren't even! 
Preferably, put the straps where your bra straps would go, you'll be glad you did this later on!

Once again, take your seam ripper and open up the seam or seams to put your straps back on the dress. (if they originally just sewed your straps on the back side of some fabric, you won't need to rip out any seams of the existing fabric).  Since mine needed to go back in between two pieces of fabric, I opened up a little hole to stick the strap into. 

Then I stitched up the seams again, this time, stitching my straps into the hole with a needle and thread (not pictured). I still tried to make my stitching on the inside of the fabric, since I didn't want my stitches to show. 

For the back side of my dress, I just sewed the straps on the inside area of the fabric. 

So, next time you're at Target, and you notice that all the summer's Maxi Dresses have made their way to the clearance rack, and the color you want isn't in your size, you can think back to this tutorial and remember that your selection has just been widened! 

Thanks Mindie and all of you Bacon Time readers for letting me share with you today! Come visit me sometime at Creatively Living for other tutorials and DIY ideas!



  1. Great tutorial, Katie! It's awesome that you were able to see that potential and have the ability to sew the dress you envisioned yourself :)

  2. Love this post, Katie! Hopefully after Lydia is born I can try this out with some of my maternity dresses.


Mathew 7:12
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.