Even though I’m not very tall (5’4”), I find myself lengthening quite a few skirts and dresses! I’m sure everyone has heard of lengthening a dress or skirt by just slapping a strip of fabric on the bottom, and done! This can be a totally great option, depending on the style of skirt, or type of fabric, etc. But I have a few tips on lengthening your dresses to make the extra length look less obvious, and like a cohesive part of the garment!
1. Use the same fabric to lengthen AND add an accent
This is my favorite way to add length to a dress and make the whole garment look like it was never altered! A lot of times, lengthening a dress can look out of place or awkward, because of the extra fabric at the bottom. This is especially true if the dress has a print! I’ve found that the easiest way is to use the same fabric you put at the bottom of the dress in a different place on the garment, to tie the whole thing together. I’ve used this little trick several different ways, but here are the main three!
1. Add fabric to the sleeves
The sleeves on this dress have elastic on the ends and were already a good length for me, so I just added a 1/2 inch ruffle of the lengthening fabric to tie it in! Also, this is probably my boldest pattern-mixing move to date!
I didn’t have much fabric leftover after lengthening this dress, because I used the bottom of a skirt I shortened! So to tie the floral fabric in, I decided to create a floral edge on the sleeve hem. Ignoring the wrinkly skirt (oops...haha), this is one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever altered!
I decided to accent these sleeves a little more drastically since I added more length at the bottom of the dress. I used the same fabric to make a bell-shaped sleeve! Since this dress had a simple silhouette and color scheme already, I thought adding a more exciting design element would be fun. I think it looks like it was made this way!
2. Add sleeves to a sleeveless dress
I bought this vintage green dress at a thrift store when I was a teenager and I have always loved it! When I needed to lengthen it, I decided to add sleeves also, instead of always wearing it with a cardigan. Because I added quite a bit of length to the bottom of the skirt, I decided to make elbow-length sleeves instead of smaller cap sleeves, to compliment the length at the bottom!
3. Add a non-sleeve accent (like a pocket!)
I used the bottom of a button down shirt to lengthen this casual jersey dress. I love that the stripes go different directions! But I digress, haha, I used a rectangle of the shirt to make a pocket accent. I thought it fit nicely with the dress, especially as the sleeves don't have a very defined shape and I think adding to them wouldn't look very natural. You can branch out from my pocket or sleeve ideas and add fabric at the waistline, collar, different shapes of sleeves...have fun with it!
2. Add your fabric to the skirt's lining
If your dress or skirt has a lining, adding your lengthening fabric to the lining instead of the actual dress will hide any seams and make the addition look much more natural. A note, though: This tip will work best with a skirt that is any kind of flowy silhouette, rather than a sheath or pencil skirt. Adding length directly to a pencil skirt will look like an original part of the skirt, whereas flowy fabric as a layer underneath the skirt will usually look more natural than adding to the dress directly.
The other nice thing about sewing to your dress's lining is that you have a litle more give with the amount of fabric you need and the ruffliness of said fabric. for example, this dress has a less flowy lining than the outer skirt, so adding the floral ruffle to the lining used less fabric than adding to the actual skirt, but still looks full enough to be cohesive.
3. Add coordinating fabric to a striped skirt or dress
Saved the best for last! The easiest dresses to lengthen are ones with stripes! The idea is to add a stripe to the bottom of the dress in the existing stripe pattern! I don't still have any striped skirts or dresses I've lengthened in the past, so I'm showing you an example from amazing blogger Sarah Tyau! (Find her full tutorial here!)
Here is Sarah's before and after:
Cute, right? She's the master!
It's hard to tell the dress has even been altered, but it's the right length now and just as cute! Go check out her tutorial and tackle those too-short striped skirts!
Alright! That's the extent of my lengthening-too-short-dress advice, but I hope you can use these tips and tricks to fix up your dresses!
P.S. I think my altered dresses are all cuter now than they used to be! ;) Cheers to making clothes more modest AND cute!!
Let me know below if you have any questions or comments!
Hey there! My name is Kirstie. I'm here to jot down what it's like for us to make our way in the world - having fun on a budget, refashioning and DIY-ing our hearts out, pursuing business ventures, and raising a sweet babe in this crazy world. Join me for a slightly haphazard journaling of my little family and our pursuits and adventures!