A dress can be incredibly versatile. It can be even more versatile if you know how to raise and lower the hem. Knowing how to shorten a dress without sewing, you can significantly expand your wardrobe without buying anything.
And if you want a permanently shortened dress, we can help you with that too.
- 1 reasons you might want to shorten a dress
- 2 How to make a dress shorter temporarily
- 2.1 Broadband
- 2.2 Wear a belt
- 2.3 Tie a knot
- 2.4 Secure with safety pins
- 3 How to permanently shorten a dress
- 3.1 Before you begin
- 3.2 Manual Cover
- 3.3 With a sewing machine
- 3.4 Textile Glue
- 4 types of specific dresses to shorten
- 4.1 How to shorten a dress with a rounded hem
- 4.2 How to shorten a dress with ruffles
- 4.3 How to make a shorter high-low dress
- 4.4 How to shorten a dress with an inner lining
- 4.5 How to make a shorter layered dress
- 4.6 How to shorten a dress with a zipper
- 5 best ways to shorten a mid-length dress
- 5.1 Sewing
- 5.2 Grab
- 5.3 Fix
- 6 frequently asked questions about shortening dresses
- 6.1 Can you remove stitches used to shorten a dress?
- 6.2 Can you use regular tape if you don't have a hem tape?
- 6.3 Can a short dress be formal?
- 7 This is like shortening a dress!
Reasons you might want to shorten a dress
Why might you want to shorten a dress?
Well, let's start with an obvious one. Most of us have a formal dress that we get for a prom, wedding or other event. We justified the cost by saying we would use it again, even though we knew how unlikely that would be.
However, if you could change that formal dress into a shorter dress, there are all sorts of occasions that you can wear it to. Of course, you can shorten the dress permanently to the new desired length or shorten it temporarily.
Anyway, that expensive formal wear could find a new life.
You can also find a dress or skirt that would be perfect... if it were a little shorter. Or much shorter. If you know how to rearrange any dress or skirt to your desired length, you can customize it to fit your needs.
How to make a dress shorter temporarily
There are several ways to change the length of a dress without cutting and temporarily hemming it. From hem tape to safety pins, here are the tricks.
So you want to make a long dress shorter temporarily. A hem band can be a solution. The iron-on hem tape is semi-permanent, but the double-sided, removable fabric tape can give your old dress the quick makeover it needs.
wear a belt
I would like to know how to make a shorter dress without sewingormake a temporary hem? Simply place the dress at your natural waist and pull the fabric in the waist area a few inches over the belt. This works best with a maxi dress or other loose-fitting dress.
tie a knot
Another way to shorten a baggy dress without a hem is to tie a knot at the hem or waist. You can leave the new length on as long as you like and take it out when you're done.
This video might give you some ideas.
Secure with safety pins
Safety pins are another way to make a temporary hem. It doesn't take a lot of safety pins to get the job done. In fact, this video shows you how to do it with just a few safety pins.
The last thing anyone wants is a safety pin showing on their dress, so make sure you hide your safety pins in the waistband or side seams of your dress.
How to permanently shorten a dress
Of course, if you want a permanently shortened dress, that's easy too. no machine? No problem! It is very easy to hand hem this dress.
before you start
The first thing to determine is whether your dress has a straight or rounded hem. You can make a shorter hem for any type of dress, but hemming a flowy dress requires an extra step.
First, lay your dress flat. Now look at the bottom edge. Is it curved like that?
Or like that?
If your edge is curved, you need to square it.
First, sew a row of long, loose basting along the line where you want the new hem to go. You can do this by machine or by hand.
Then gently pull on the stitches until the side seams look straight and parallel lines run down to the bottom of the dress.
Now fold up the cropped hemline and pin it to the inside of the dress.
You can now complete the hem using one of the following methods.
Hemming the dress by hand may seem like a lot of work, but it isn't. Unless you are a regular sewing machine user, hand sewing may be faster and easier.
Here's how to do it.
Step 1: Put on the dress.
Step 2: Use tailor's chalk to mark where you want the new hem to go.
Step 3: Remove garment, turn and lay flat.
Step 4: If you need to square the hem, use the method above. If not, continue to the next step.
Step 5: Fold the hem up along the chalk line. Pin it to the wrong side of the fabric. Use a tape measure to ensure the hem is the same length all over.
Step 6: Iron the new hem with an iron.
Step 7: If you shorten the dress by 1 inch or less, no trimming is needed. However, if you trim too much, turn a second row half an inch (1.27 cm) above the new hem.
Step 8: If you are cutting, trim along the new chalk line and remove the excess fabric.
Step 9: Fold the new edge over a quarter inch (0.635 centimeters), press with the iron and pin.
Step 10: Blindstitch the two layers of the folded edge to the back of the fabric as shown in the video below.
With a sewing machine
If you want more than a temporary fix, a sewing machine can help you create a sturdy, permanent hem for your dress.
Prepare your outfit as above. Adjust the hem if necessary and follow steps 1-9.
Once you have the right length, use the machine to sew the hem on the inside of the dress.
You can use a straight stitch if you don't mind the seam showing at the front. Some sewing machines also have a blindstitch in the hem that is less visible.
Keep your seamstress handy in case you make a mistake!
Some types of fabric glue create a permanent bond that is ideal for hemming your garment to the ideal length.
To glue a cropped hem, align the hem first if necessary. Then follow steps 1-9 above.
Instead of sewing, apply fabric glue according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Shortening certain types of clothing
Many hems are fairly basic, but some types of dresses may require a few extra steps.
How to shorten a dress with a rounded hem
Many loose, flowy dresses, such as prom dresses and maxi dresses, have rounded hems. Simply turning the edge over and sewing a straight line can result in creases and creases. You can avoid this by pinching the edge squarely to gather the excess fabric as described above.
Remember to use a tape measure to ensure the new hem is the same length all over before trimming off the excess fabric.
How to shorten a dress with ruffles
There are several ways to shorten a ruffle dress.
First, if the ruffle is at the bottom edge and you don't want to keep it, simply open the seam holding the ruffle to the dress, fold over the new edge, and sew, glue, or tape it in place. 🇧🇷
If you want to keep the bottom ruffle but want the dress to be shorter, open the seam holding the ruffle, fold the seamless edge back against the inside of the dress, pin the ruffle and fasten according to one of the methods described above.
And if you want to shorten a ruffleless dress, add a ruffle, watch this video.
How to make a shorter high-low dress
Most dresses have a length at the bottom. ONE
A high and a low dress, also known as a hi-low dress or a waterfall dress, come in different lengths. That means the hem is higher in some places than others. The hem is often too high at the front and too low at the back.
Hemming a high-low dress is in some ways easier than hemming a regular skirt, and more difficult in other ways.
Have your measuring tape ready.
First lay the dress on a flat surface. You should place it so that the high edges meet the high edges and the low edges meet the low edges. The hem has an "S" shape.
Then mark your new hem with pins. You might want to experiment a little with the dress first to find the perfect combination of high and low. Once you have the hem where you want it, use the tailor's chalk to mark a line half an inch below the pin line.
Now turn the dress inside out and chalk the new hem on the other side.
Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut along the chalk line.
Fold the raw edge in half, pin and press. Exit using one of the methods above.
You can also overcast the raw edge, as in this video.
How to shorten a dress with attached lining
This is actually easier than it sounds, and there are a few ways to do it.
For the first method, open the hems of the dress and lining. With the lining attached to the dress from the inside, loosen the stitches holding it there. Fold or trim the lining and dress as needed, then hem both using one of the methods above.
Remember that the lining must be shorter than the dress itself.
This video shows another simple method.
How to make a shorter layered dress
You can often just undo the stitching that holds the layers together. When you have the length you want, attach the new edge using one of the methods above.
How to shorten a dress with a zipper
Don't worry if your changes exceed a zip. If you know how to shorten the zipper yourself, it's not that complicated.
Look at this.
After understanding the process, mark your zipper as shown in the video and make a final stitch in the new end stitch. Make sure the new endpoint is above the cut you will be making down the center of the garment.
Now trim according to the center trimming guide (below).
The best ways to shorten a mid-length dress
Sometimes it's easier to crop a dress down the middle than at the hem. As with bottom hemming, this type of change can be permanent or temporary (no stitching).
First put the dress on and figure out where you want the shortening line to go. Mark it with pins. Now turn the dress inside out and use chalk to mark your line.
Now it's time to choose your method.
Cut along your chalk line. Shorten as desired and then sew the two pieces back together.
Pinch the chalk line and pull as much fabric into the fold as needed. Secure the inside of the dress with tape.
Same as above but secure with safety pins.
Whatever your method, measure carefully to make sure your change is even.
Frequently asked questions about shortening dresses
Do you still have doubts? We have answers!
Can you remove stitches used to shorten a dress?
With its handy seam ripper, you can remove virtually any sewn stitch.
Can you use regular tape if you don't have hem tape?
This depends on the ribbon and fabric.
Ordinary masking tape may not be strong enough to hold heavy fabrics for long. Duct tape is strong enough, but it might not be the best choice for your outfit. Some commercially available double-sided tapes work very well. Experiment with what you have on hand to find the best fit.
Can a short dress be formal?
It depends on the event and the host.
If there is no strict dress code, an elegant, shorter dress made from opulent materials may be appropriate. On the other hand, if there is a dress code (e.g. black tie or white tie), it is better to stick to the rules.
It's like cutting a dress!
Did you like our conversion tutorial? Do you have ideas for more tips for our readers? Leave us a message!
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About the author:
Jess Faraday learned to sew as an act of teenage rebellion. Her mom always hated sewing, so Jess took up the hobby to prove something! It has since grown into a satisfying lifelong hobby. When she's not sewing, Jess loves trail running and martial arts. She even wrote a novel or two!
- Sewing Machine Chandelier | How to Shorten Your Mid Dress | https://sewingmachinebuffs.com/how-to-shorten-a-dress-from-the-middle/
- Sewing Instructions | Dress code: The 10 defined basic dress codes | https://sewguide.com/dress-code/
How do you temporarily shorten a dress? ›
Use a Belt
Would you like to know how to make a dress shorter without sewing or making a temporary hem? Simply belt the dress at your natural waist and pull the fabric up a few inches over the belt in the waist area. This works best with a maxi dress or other loose fitting dress.
ANSWER: Turn the dress inside out. Using a safety pin, find the side seams of the dress. Secure the bottom hem to the waist seam using one safety pin. Repeat this step on the opposite side seam.What to do if dress is too long? ›
If your dress is too long, you can try a few things to shorten it. You can fold the dress up at the waist so that it is shorter, or you can wear a belt to cinch in the dress and make it shorter. You can also try wearing heels to make the dress shorter.How do you shorten a dress with tape? ›
Cut a length of hem tape equal to the length of the hem, and insert it beneath the folded edge on the dress inside. Press with the iron. You may want to use a pressing cloth to keep stray plastic off of the surface of your iron.How do you fix a long dress that touches the floor? ›
An easy way is to put on high heels so you're a little taller. If that doesn't work, you might put on a belt, then pull a little fabric over the belt to shorten the dress. You can also use double-sided tape to create a temporary hem. Thanks!How do you hem a dress without cutting fabric? ›
Hemming a dress without cutting the bottom is possible by using a hem tape. The hem tape is a thin, adhesive strip that attaches the hem of the dress to the bottom. Once applied, the hem will stay in place while you wear the dress.Is there a permanent hemming tape? ›
Iron-on hem tape is intended to be permanent and can't be removed from the fabric. Sometimes it has a paper backing that you need to peel before using. But there are other types of hem tapes, less known but still very useful.Can you temporarily hem something? ›
Sewing Tip: For a temporary hem, you will need a double-sided basting tape like Clover's Basting Tape that can be removed either thru washing or by hand.What can I use instead of sewing hem? ›
This sewing alternative is used to adhere fabrics together with pre-cut, double-sided strips of tape and an iron. Bonding tape is a great alternative for hems or avoiding visible stitches and the dry time that glue requires.
How to Hem Pants Without Sewing. If you don't have a sewing machine or needle and thread, you can hem your pants with hem tape, which you can find at most drugstores. To use hem tape, turn your pants inside out, fold them to the desired length, pin and iron the crease, and then apply the hem tape to the fold.
Does temporary hem tape work? ›
The hemming tape will do a good job of sealing the fabric edges and minimizing fraying in most fabrics.Can you temporarily alter a dress? ›
Whether you are dealing with a dress from pregnancy (and you're not prego anymore) or your borrowing a dress that doesn't exactly hit you in the right way, you can always alter it temporarily. Then when you are done with it, you can seam rip the temporary seams and iron it back into place as if you never altered it.How do you shrink a dress without it getting shorter? ›
Wash the dress using the longest wash cycle available.
Along with heat, the tumbling action of the washing machine causes the fibers in the fabric to move closer together and make your dress smaller. You can throw other clothing items into the wash with your dress, but make sure they are all of similar colors.
There are two kinds of fabric glue you can use for a no-sew hem. As with hemming tape, the one to choose depends on how permanently you want to alter your garment. You can also use it to secure a raw edge. Fabric glue creates a permanent or semi-permanent bond that can stand up to machine laundering.