How to Lengthen a Dress

Here is the scenario, you are at the store you find the perfect dress or skirt.  Looks great on the hanger so you try it on.  Then you find that perfect garment isn’t so perfect after all.  It could be too big in the waist, too big in the bust area, gaping in the neckline or too short!  You could feel defeated and hang it back up or if you are savvy you could totally make it your own!  I mean if the dress is on sale cheap what is the harm.  Well today is the day we find out what we can do with that dress or skirt that is too short!  This photo tutorial is designed to guide you through making a drafted pattern piece to help add length to you dress.  Lets get started!

First we will need our supplies:


  • fabric for the length (I got this great linen from
  • ruler
  • marker or pen for making tracing paper
  • tracing paper
  • pins
  • seam ripper
  • scissors, one for paper and another for fabric

The first thing you want to do it rip out that hem of your dress or skirt.  This part of the hem is now going to become part of that seam allowance when we go to attach the new pattern piece.

IMG_1824 Once your seam is ripped out go ahead and press the crease out of the hem.  You want your hem to hang straight.


At this point you will need to roll out your tracing paper to prepare to mark your new pattern piece.  Next, take your garment and fold it in half, matching up the side seams.  Lay it flat on the paper.

With my dress the front and back sections of the skirt measure differently.  The front is fuller then the back.  So I will need to make two different pattern pieces.  If you dress measures the same front and back then you will only need to make one pattern piece but you will cut it out twice. To start measure down the amount of inches you want to add. Line the ruler up with the fold of the skirt, mark it to the length you want. Then line the ruler yo with the side seam, mark it to the length you want. Do this all the way across the bottom of the dress marking as you go.  Then you can true up your line  when you have the length measured across the bottom of the pattern piece. Don’t forget to trace the skirt hem. This will be the top edge of your pattern piece.

Now you will need to mark your seam allowances on the top edge and your side seam.  Mark the edge where the fold will be and also mark your hem allowance. I used 5/8″ seam allowance and a 1″ hem allowance.


Next take your fabric and fold it right sides together.  I got this great navy blue linen from  They have a huge selection of linens and really any kind of fabric you can think of.  Check them out HERE if you need to purchase fabric. Once you have folded your fabric place your pattern piece accordingly.  Pin your pattern on and then cut out your pieces. If you only needed to make one pattern piece then cut that one out twice.  Once you have cut the pieces out you will need to finish the edges. You can do this by doing an overcast stitch, using your serger or using pinking shears.


Take your pieces and with rights sides together pin them matching up the edges at the side seams. Using you sewing machine stitch both side seams, back stitching to reinforce at the beginning and end of each stitch. Press your seam allowances open.

Now take this panel that you have just sown and pin to your dress.  With right sides together pin the top edge of your panel to the edge of the dress hem. Match up the side seams to ensure it is lined up correctly.


Once it is all pinned stitch the panel to the dress. After it is sown press seam allowances open. Now press and pin your hem into place.  Using your seam gauge fold your hem and press.  Pin to secure.  Now take it to your machine and you can stitch it into place.  I used a top stitch on mine.  Once you have finished stitching go ahead and give your dress or skirt a good press and you are finish!

I hope you found this tutorial helpful.  Please like and share! My blog contains affiliate links please use them to help support my blog posts!

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