How to Shorten a Dress

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Here are some tips on how to shorten a dress

How to Shorten a Dress
How to Shorten a Dress

Buying a new or used dress for a special occasion or just to casually wear can be quite exciting! But there is something that we have to acknowledge before continuing; that everyone is different in their own unique way. This means dresses that might fit someone in a certain way, may not fit another the same. Alterations can make a huge difference in the fit and style of your dresses. In this article we will show you some tips on how to shorten a dress.

Kim’s Alteration & Repair offers a wide range of alteration and repair options for every style of dress. You can view our general and professional alteration services here

To begin, we will need to determine the exact style of dress that you would like to be altered because there are so many! Each dress style can pose a different challenge and cause complications in the alteration process, especially if done without a professional tailor’s expertise. We will go into more detail about possible complications in the next few points. 

1. What type of dress do you want to shorten? – Let’s find out!

Different Dress Styles
Different dress styles and lengths

The process of how to shorten a dress can change depending on the style, materials it’s made with, and the new style you are looking to achieve. 

There are so many types of dresses out there so make sure that you can identify the style before you proceed with the alteration. There are also many different lengths that would be suitable for each body type, height, dress style and materials, so it’s best to make sure that these variables are all well thought out beforehand. Here is a list with photos that can be helpful in determining the style of dress you’d like to shorten. 

2. Finding your ideal length

Measuring a dress
Measuring a dresses length

Here is a guide to finding your ideal dress length – the article refers to skirts, but the same process can be used on dresses. This will give you a good idea of the perfect spot for the hem of your dress to fall on the leg. 

This may seem like a simple task, but there are so many different body types and sometimes it’s great to get a professional opinion that is backed up by math! If you choose to do this process by eye – make sure that you are hanging your dress on a form or wearing it so that it is even, (it would be a shame to alter a dress too short or unevenly because in most cases there is no going back). After you have chosen your ideal dress length you’ll want to start the process of pinning the new seam. 

Once you’ve done the calculations of finding your ideal length, or determining where you’d like the dress to fall, you’ll want to pin the seam to the desired length and press it down with an iron. Pressing the new seam down will give it a flat edge and a tidier look. This will also make it easier to stitch if you want to do it yourself. The next steps are sewing by hand or using a sewing machine. If you are looking for answers on how to shorten a dress temporarily until you bring it to Kim’s Alteration & Repair for professional hemming services, We will be talking about this below.

3. Troubles with DIY dress shortening – why you should bring it to Kim’s Alteration & Repair

Wedding Dress Alteration
Woman wearing a wedding dress with lace and tulle

The steps on how to shorten a dress using the DIY method may seem like a money saver and a fun project to do, but if you are looking to refresh a dress for a special occasion or to repair your dress so that it looks like new – it’s always the best idea to bring it to a professional tailor. We have spent years in perfecting the craft of clothing alterations and will be an expert in helping you find the ideal length to shorten your dresses. Here are a just few reasons why you should bring your dresses to a professional tailor:

  • You aren’t sure what type of fabric you are working with
  • Your dress has an uneven hem – curved or high-low hem, etc.
  • You need the dress taken in and shortened at the same time
  • There is more than one layer to the dress – ruffles, tulle, etc.
  • Your dress has intricate beading or lace overlays

4. How to temporarily shorten your dress – until you can bring it to us!

DIY Dress Shortening
A woman wearing an above the knee length dress

The process of how to shorten a dress temporarily is fairly simple although it may not look as desired with certain materials and fabrics. It is always recommended to get your dress professionally altered for optimal results. 

The first step in temporarily shortening your dress is to turn your dress inside out. The use of safety pins is recommended for this so that the pins do not slip out. Use the safety pins to secure the bottom hem to the waist of the dress – and it’s done! There are few flaws with this process and that is why we recommend bringing your dress to us for professional alteration work. This temporary alteration will only work on maxi/floor length dresses. If you only wanted to bring a shorter dress up a few inches, it will probably be too short and unflattering. Here is an in depth article on how to shorten a dress temporarily

Shortening a dress can be a highly complex alteration and you may need a professional with years of experience to get the job done. This is especially true with multilayered garments and specialty fabrics. Please remember that although it seems to be simple, inexpensive and fun; dress alterations are a professional service for a reason and we take pride in over 41 years of experience in the field. It would be a pleasure to help you get your dress fitting just the way you like, so you can wear it with a smile! Call or Email us to book your appointment today.

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