Lengthening a Dress: A Tutorial

Mabey She Made It
by Mabey She Made It

Have you ever found the perfect dress only it’s just a bit short? So frustrating, right? Well it happens to my lovely sister (pictured above) a lot since she’s a fabulous 6′ tall.

And since my brother’s wedding was this past week, we needed to lengthen this dress from Shabby Apple just a bit.

Lengthen a Dress with an overlay (or any dress for that matter)

  1. Find some fabric to match the skirt. If you dodn’t have an overlay, you can choose a contrasting color for a fun color-blocked look or go with the closest match. Make sure the fabric you pick is the same color and washing instructions as your fabric. You don’t want to have a washable dress but a strip of dry-clean only fabric on the bottom–that would warp when you washed it!
  2. If you’re trying to save all the original length you can, unpick the original hem at this point.
  3. Determine how much length you need/want to add. Then cut two strips the width of the hem (plus 1/2″ for a seam allowance) by the length you need to add (plus 1/2″ for seam allowance).
  4. Press one edge of both pieces up 1/4″ then do it again another 1/4″ so the raw edges are completely hidden.

Put the right sides together of both your pieces and sew the short sides of the two pieces together on both ends to make a big circle that should be the same size as the bottom hemline of your dress.

Sew along your pressed edge all the way around to create a new hem.

With your hemmed piece and your dress right sides together and with the raw edges together, start pinning. You’ll want to make sure the side seams are lined up at this point.

It’s time to sew your added length to your dress! Make sure the raw edges are together, and sew all the way around your dress.

Now press those seams and you’re ready for the wedding (or whatever you’re wearing your newly lengthened dress to)!

Using this technique for lengthening a dress is a great way to add length and extend the functionality of your dress!

Another Way to Add Length

Okay, but what if you can’t find a fabric that matches? Check for a deep hem. If your dress has one, you’re in luck.

Try this:

  1. Unpick the hem of the dress and press it as flat as possible (You’ll need a lot of steam). If the deep hem gives you enough length, cut a band of fabric about 2″ wide by the length of your hem + seam allowance.
  2. Sew the band together on the short ends, and the sew one raw (long) edge to the raw edge of your dress.
  3. Fold and press the seam you just sewed flat. Then fold the new band to the back.
  4. Then hem the band and sew it to the inside of your skirt.

OR Try This to Add Length

This is my least favorite option, but if you are buying a dress and it’s inexpensive, you can buy two, cut what you need from the second dress, and add it to the first. This way you have matching fabric for your added length. I personally hate the idea of buying two, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, right?

And if it get’s you a dress you love, it can be worth the price.

If you like this sewing tutorial, you might also like these:

The Secret to Hemming Curved Edges || The Secret to Gorgeous Gathers

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Mabey She Made It
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Join the conversation
  • Christie Decker Christie Decker on May 22, 2022

    I'm thinking, if needing to buy 2 dresses, you could turn one into a top or perhaps a skirt and still have 2 items to wear. Just a thought. Blessings and I did like the ideas. Thank you.

  • Norma Norma on May 23, 2022

    You can always turn the second dress into a shirt.