Alterations

You’re visiting this site because you’d like to learn more about how to alter your own clothing, or someone else’s. It may be that you are trying to save money in this economy or you are just trying to expand your creative knowledge. Whatever, the reason, I’m glad you’re here.

You’ll notice as you look at articles already published, that they cover a multitude of topics and ability levels. That is because I am writing posts as I receive work from my customers. Some days all I have are hems to do. Other days, I am altering a bridal gown or making a bench seat cushion. Yet, other days, I am mending an item or two. So, that is why you see alterations of all kinds.

Some of the more popular articles include: How to hem pants, the professional way to hem jeans, and putting bustles on your wedding gown.

Look at the left sidebar and click on “More Articles”, then, click on “Select Category” and then click on the category you are interested in. There are several pages of articles under each category. I’m sure you’ll find several that will help you learn or perfect a technique.

If you’d like to see a particular alteration, or you have a question about any of the articles, please  respond to the comment section and I’ll respond right away.

Thanks for stopping by.

Now, let’s get sewing!

50 Responses

  1. i would like to know how to widen the waistband on mens pants to make them a little bigger. thank you

  2. Are they casual or dress slacks? How much seam allowance is on the center back seam?

  3. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your posts. I have a shop in North Carolina where I do primarly bridal and formal wear alterations. It is always good to see how other professionals preform different techniques.
    One technique I do a lot of is replacing zippers with a corset back. I just replace the zipper with loops, make a tie the length I need and sometimes make a modesty panel. It’s a perfect solution if her dress is several inches too tight. I use this technique instead of a guset because is easier if the dress is fully beaded or has applique that I can’t match. No one will ever know that it was not designed that way to start with!
    I have pre-made loops in ivory and white matt-satin. I have also pre-made the ties and modesty panels because I do this so often. Try it, you will love it and so will your girls!

    • Awesome idea! Thank you so much. Readers, please check out her website…

    • Where do you get premade loops from? My mom is altering my dress (she has lots of experience) but we are running short on time and she wants to find a strip of fabric with pre made loops that she can just sew into my dress.

    • I add corsets to a lot of dresses too! I have put several in bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses because they insist on ordering dresses that are too small. I have found that as long as the color is a really good match, the fabric doesn’t have to be exactly the same. For example, on a burgundy chiffon dress, I could not find chiffon to match, but I found some polyester shantung that was nearly the exact same color. I used the nubby/matte side of the fabric and it was beautiful. The way clothing is made now allows for variations which makes matching optional! I make my own loops and ties. The loops aren’t quite as thin as manufactured ones, but they work fine.

      • Hi Kristine,
        Thanks for your comments and your encouragement to use other fabrics if need be. I think sometimes we get too particular about finding the exact match (even thought that’s usually impossible). It’s great to know there are others out there who do this alteration. Sounds like you have lots of calls for them. Happy Sewing!
        Linda

      • i just got my prom dress, but its to big. i would like a corset back. is there anyway i can corset it myself without messing it up?

      • Well, Christina, I’m not sure what you’re asking. The instructions I give are so that you can do it yourself if you have the sewing skills. If not, you would be better off to take it to a seamstress for alterations. Let me know if that doesn’t answer your question.

        Linda

    • I’ve had girls ask for the corset back even when the dress fits-I’ve had to cut the dress in a v shape at the back or there is no opening for the loops and tie. I go about 3″ over at the top of each side of the dress. I generally make my own loops but would be willing to buy them ready made if I knew where to get them, Anyone?

      • Fran, you can use satin cording and other materials sold by the yard as well. Just check the cording/ribbon/lace section of your local fabric store. I can usually find something that works. Hope you can too!

  4. Love your website. I just wish there was one more tutorial – how to fix a gap in a halter neck dress thanks

    • There is a tutorial on this subject! Look on the left side of this page where it says. “More Articles”. Click on “Select Category” and choose “Alterations”. Scroll through about three pages until you find the one entitled, “Halter Top or Halter Dress Alteration”.
      Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Linda,

    I just completed a zipper repair on a leather jacket where the tab had broken off the zipper slider. I ordered a zipper kit from Wawak tailoring supplies and was able to perform a quick repair.

    I learned the alteration on uTube. With the jacket facing me, I used a needle-nose plier to pull the broken zipper slider off the top of the left zipper tape. Then, I replaced it by sliding on the new zipper tab/slider on the left side of the jacket. I also replaced the top of the zipper with a top stop which came in the kit.

    Hope this was not as clear as mud. Anyway, I charged $10 for this alteration.

    Happy Sewing, Linda M.

    • My name is Kerri and I also have an alteration business out of my home…..I am not quite sure on how I should be preicng some of the alterations I am doing…any suggestions?

      • If you’ll type “pricing” into the search box, you’ll see the posts I have written on the subject. Let me know if they don’t answer your questions. Thanks!

  6. Hi Linda!
    I just got a dress in to work on- it is 3 inches too small across the back so she can’t zip it up. It has pleats by the zipper and the extra fabric I cut off from the hem won’t match up around the zipper due to the grain of the fabric. Will it work making gussets in the side seams? At least it wouldn’t be as noticeable under the arms or will I HAVE to add fabric through the zipper area? It’s a strapless dress and really and truly, I wished she would have ordered the correct size to begin with:(
    thanks for your response. Diane

  7. Hi I noticed this comment and I dont know if you know it but the best way I have found to remove blood is using contact solution.. (this has to be the one that is more than just sodium cloride (salt solution))
    this works because the contact solution is made to break down protein and blood has a lot of protein in it.. it will lift it right out :D.

    Sorry I didn’t know where to post this comment. please put it in the right spot.

    p.s. only just found your blog today but amazing work.

    #
    Stain Remover for Bridal Gowns
    Did you accidentally poke your finger with a pin or needle and get blood on your wedding gown?
    This solution sounds weird and maybe gross, but it works! Saturate the tip of a Q-tip with your saliva and gently blot it on your satin wedding gown. The blood comes right out. Of course, you’ll want to try it on a hidden area of the gown first just to be sure.

  8. Hi Linda,

    I am just restarting my home-based alterations business. So wish me blessings. ;-)

    Anyway, do you have any clever suggestions for ripping out seams effectively. I think if I could rip out seams more efficiently, I could save time and make more money. For instance, I know there is a trick to knowing which thread to pull out when taking out a chain stitch or serger seam.

    Any suggestions?

    Linda M.

  9. hey i bought a dress which is slightly too small and need to widen the zipper any suggestions? its a reverse harness top dress x

    • I’m not sure what you mean by widening the zipper. Type “corset back” in my search box and it wil bring up one of my posts on how to put one in. I think that post will answer your question. Let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks!
      Linda

  10. Hi Linda! I think I have a good sense as to pricing alterations for adults, but what do you do about children’s clothes. I have few childs pants to hem. Do the same rules apply, or would you charge a bit less?

    Thanks so much!
    Sharon Tabaka

  11. Hi Linda!! I ordered a knit sweater online which was a ‘huge’ mistake because even the small that I ordered is enormous! I could send it back, and exchange it for a smaller size, but then I would have to pay shipping and duty on it again. How could I alter this knit sweater so that it fits better without it unraveling on me? Is there a way? Could I do it myself or should I call in a professional? or is this a lost cause and I should send it back?

    Thanks!
    Kienna Gibbard

    • It depends on the sweater, but since it’s so huge, I would not try. You’d have to take the whole thing apart and trim it down and put it back together again. It’s alot of work. You could take it to a professional and let them give you free advice. If they say it’s not worth it, I’d give it to someone you know as a present. I hope you have success!

  12. Great site……Need help……a neighbor asked me to hem her daughter’s beaded prom gown. It is difficult so I need to ask how do I charge for this favor as it is not a simple hem that I would do for someone. Thanks

    • Well, that is a good question. Without seeing the dress, I don’t know how much beading we are talking about. These are the kind of alterations that if they were to take to an alteration shop, would probably cost more than they are willing to pay. It all comes down to how much are you willing to risk in friendship. If it is a favor, keep your expectation of payment low because it is a favor. You may just want to set a price and then not look at the clock to see how much time you actually spent on the garment. That way you won’t get upset that you didn’t charge more. In other words, there is not good answer as to price when you are doing something as a favor. I hope that helps.

  13. I have a halter top given to me, its silk and has some thread pieces coming off the part where the breasts go (on the outside) as if it got caught on something, is there any way to fix this or would it look good if I added some sort of “patch”, like a flower type patch?

  14. PLA: I have three cotton long sleeves men shirts that the customer would like to have these shirts sleeves cut off to make short sleeves shirts. The cotton shirts fabric will not give and at the shoulder length short sleeve is 11 inches and at the underarm length is 8 inches. There is no way to turn the fabric to make a hem. Whenn doing this with a knit fabric the knit will give enough to be able to hem the sleeve.
    I would appreciate any suggestions.

  15. from what i ahve read, there are instructions on how to fix a dress that is too small, but my dress is too big.

    • Hi, Ok, I didn’t see the part about your dress being too big. Sorry about that. There is a way to put a corset in, but it means having to take your dress in so much that it is too small in the back. Does that make sense? It is ALOT of work and unless you know how to do those alterations, it is going to cost you big money to have a seamstress do it. I don’t k ow how big your dress is on you, but you may still have to pay a lot for alterations depending on how much work needs to be done. If you got the dress for almost no money, then it won’t be so painful to write that check. I’m sorry if you paid a lot. I hope it is the dress of your dreams. Keep asking questions if I haven’t answered what you’ve asked. Thanks Christina. I wish you the best. Linda

  16. actually, i got the dress for free. my aunt passed it down to me. theres about two inches of extra fabric when i put it on.

  17. Can you attached some videos how you do it?

  18. MY DAUGHTER’S PROM DRESS IS A LITTLE BIG IN THE BUST AREA. IT FITS FINE EVERY WHERE ELSE. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT THE TOP IS BEADED. CAN THIS DRESS BE ALTERED TO FIT IN THE BUST AREA?

    • I don’t have a photo to make a good judgement call, but yes, it can be done. If it is heavily encrusted with beads, it will cost alot. If there are only beads sacttered here and there, not so much. But your best bet is to ask a local seamstress what they would charge.

      Hope that helps! Linda

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Sew for dough

  19. Because I sew RenFaire costumes I deal with corsets a lot. I have found that if you are making your own lacing that a good trick is to go to the electrical department and pick up a package of small clear heat shrink and cut it into 1″ lengths. When you get the lacing the length you want take a drop of glue and put it on the end of the ribbon or cording and roll it in you finger and stick it in the heat shrink and then using you fire place lighter shrink it a little. be careful to not heat it too long and it is best to practice a couple of times on scrap. But this makes the lacing easy to insert in the loops because it is just like a shoe string end. I discovered this on a Rob Roy jacket that had about a dozen laces of different lengths that needed to match. i use a lot of the satin cord that you get by the yard at JoAnn’s or WalMart. it looks good and last well. With these costumes you know they are going to wear them over several years and they need to adjust to the persons size changing.

  20. I have just taken on my first “pro” alteration job. I’ve sewn for 56 years & use to win blue ribbons and a few awards, so I have a good skill set but I’m stumped.

    The client had a previous alteration attempt which resulted in his request to have pant waist taken in 1″ & ths crotch shorten abouq” – 2″. Since measuring him was not possible

  21. you have no way to print your instructions

  22. I brought a halter neck jumpsuit from misguidded the bust area is too big what can i do to fix it.

    • Type “Halter Top” into the search box on my blog. You’ll find a post on how to do that alteration. I am having trouble sending you the direct link on my tablet, but you should be able to find it without any trouble.

  23. Recently, I was asked to alter a man’s suit from a size 44 to a 42. I am not familiar with men’s alterations. Do you have any articles on this subject?

    • I don’t typically write about men’s alterations except for their slacks. To alter a suit down two sizes involves taking up the placket in the sleeve, the vent in the back and the shoulders. All of these alterations are time consuming and costly. Generally, it is cheaper for the man to buy a new suit! So, if he is willing to pay the extra money, but you aren’t familiar or comfortable with how to do those alterations, I would pass on the job, even if you’ve already said yes. Just tell him you’ve consulted with another seamstress, and this is the conclusion. Hope that helps.

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