How to Alter Clothes a Size down

Clothing alterations are some of my favorite projects and when I found this dress I knew I needed to share my process to help other people work through their own clothing transformations.

This particular dress is made out of denim, which gave me the opportunity to show How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam. This method will work with any non-formfitting piece of clothing though. If you are looking to make the article really form fitting follow the steps in our How to Alter Jeans to be Larger tutorial to learn a more precise way to measure the clothing to fit your body and then come back to this article and start following along starting at step 2.

I find a lot of my clothes at thrift stores so obviously I don’t get the luxury of being picky about sizing.  That’s where alterations come in handy. It allows you to not only make the clothing fit perfectly, but also gives you the chance to change the original design to make a one of a kind piece. (like these jeans I altered to be a few sizes larger with panels).

What alteration projects have you been working on? I love seeing recycled fashion so send us your before and after pics!

Step 1: Measure

I found that drawing a really loose (no seriously I can’t draw) outline of my dress and putting the measurements on there made this step easier.

Try on your garment and decide how much fabric you want to cut away by pinching the fabric together where there is excess and measuring it. You will want to do this in several places along the length of the garment and write down the amount of material that needs to be taken away as well as where it is located along the length.

size-down-jeans-6 Measure
size-down-jeans-7 Measure

Step 2: Mark the measurements

With a fabric marker, mark the material you will be taking out of the garment.

I choose the back seam to re-sew because I figured it would be the least noticeable without having to rip out the seams on both sides. (I didn’t think that was necessary for this dress but that would be your best option if you are really looking to keep the re-sewn seams as discreet as possible.)

Center the measurement on the seam and then mark both ends with the marker so you have a clear line to cut. I also connected the lines to make it easier on myself. I used a marker that disappears after 24 hours (Get one here.. it’s one of my faves) so I didnt have to worry about extra lines.

size-down-jeans-2 Mark
size-down-jeans-9 Mark

Step 3: Cut out the fabric

Cut the fabric you just marked along the lines.

size-down-jeans-8 Cut

Step 4: Sew

I used a flat felled seam on this garment to close up and finish the seams but that is going to differ from garment to garment. If you are working on jean though, it’s very likely you will be working with a flat felled.

Here’s How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam.

Once you sew the open edges together, you’re done. Easy Peasy. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! I am happy to help!

flat-felled-seam-7-3 Sew

Looking for inspiration?