When your favorite dress no longer fits because it is now too small, not to worry because learning how to make a dress bigger is a lot easier than you think. In fact, knowing how to make a dress bigger by adding fabric is one of the easiest ways to enlarge the size of your dress, and you don’t need super-advanced sewing skills to do it.
The truth is, adding fabric to make any article of clothing bigger is the best way to enlarge its size, and you can learn exactly how to do this in just a few simple steps. Even if you’re a beginning sewing enthusiast, the process shouldn’t give you any problems because it is just that easy.
How Making a Dress Bigger Is Usually Done
Enlarging a dress is normally done in one of two ways: by adding a corset panel or by adding extra fabric to the back or sides of the dress. If you choose to add extra fabric, you should know that it should be added to the back or sides of the dress because this is the easiest method. Keep in mind that you’ll need fabric that matches, and you’ll need to remove the back seams or the zipper first.
If you choose to add a corset panel instead, you’ll be adding a lace-up corset to the back of the dress instead of a piece of fabric that matches the dress. Both methods are simple to accomplish, so let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.
How to Make a Dress Bigger by Adding a Corset
The corset method is similar to the “added fabric” method in several ways. Both methods allow you to enlarge the dimensions of your dress, and both are great ways to make the dress look a little better. But there are some differences as well.
Let’s take a look at the steps used to add a corset to a dress that is too small.
Step 1: Get Your Materials Ready
The materials and tools you need for the corset method include:
- Fabric (one yard total)
- Interfacing (medium-weight to heavyweight)
- Rotary cutter or scissors
- Measuring tape
- Safety pins
- Pins or clips
Step 2: Get the Lacing for Your Corset Loops
For the fabric strips, you’ll need a total of eight strips, possibly more. When you make the strips, make a minimum of eight. You’ll need these for the loops and the back tie.
Take fabric strips that are 1.5 inches wide on the bias. Do this by cutting at a 45-degree angle to the selvage.
Take a longer strip and fold it in half, placing the right sides together. Sew seams roughly 1/4 inch from your open edges so that you can make a tube. Next, turn the tube you just made so the right side is out.
Step 3: Make the Back of the Corset
Look at the length of the opening in the back and measure it. This will tell you how close your loops should be. Cut the lace in segments that are 2.5 inches in size. Determine just how many segments are needed.
Cut a total of two pieces of interfacing 1-inch wide. The length should be the length of your opening. Fold those strips in half so that they are sturdier and hold well.
With each segment on your interfacing, sew each one so that loops are created in every space that is marked. Make sure you sew 1/4 inch from the edges of the interfacing. You’ll do this so that the edges of every segment are properly lined up.
Take the interfacing that has loops and place it in between your lining and the part of the fabric where the zipper originally was.
Top stitch from the edge of the opening around 1/8 inch. Stitch down the length of the opening and sew all of your loops in place. Then, do the same thing on the other side.
Step 4: Put in the Modesty Panel
At this point, you’ll want to try on the dress so that you can measure the gap’s width in the back. Measure the length of the opening, then add three inches minimum so the modesty panel is done correctly.
For the width near the bottom of the dress, you’ll want to have a few inches on either side so that a triangle-like shape is developed. Make sure this step does not create an exact square shape.
Next, take the fabric and fold it in half. Use those measurements and remove two layers of your panel.
Then, pin those two pieces together on their right sides. Sew a seam about 1/4 inch around both the sides and the top of the panel. This leaves the bottom part open, which is what you want.
Flip the panel so that the right side is out, and iron it flat. Take the bottom edge and fold it by 1/2 inch, then iron that as well.
To close the opening back up, just top stitch the bottom edge of the dress.
Pin the modesty panel on the inside of your dress at the edge, making sure to keep an overlap of 1/2 inch. Then, top stitch again, this time along the stitching that goes with the corset loops. This should be the very last thing you do with this step.
Step 5: Tie up the Lace
Take your bias strips and sew them the same way you sewed your loops. This time, make sure the stitches are a bit longer so that the bias strips join together.
Take one of your bias strips and lay it down on the table, making sure the right side is up. Then, place another strip on top of that one, but place the right side down this time. When you’re done, that strip should be perpendicular to the first one.
Start sewing and stitch from the top right-hand corner to the left-hand corner at the bottom. After you do this, trim off any excess and open up the seams. Once the seams are open, iron them flat.
The next step is to join the remaining strips together so that you have one continuous strip of bias in the end. If you need to add more strips, you can.
Take the bias strip and fold it in half, making sure the right sides are together. Next, sew the seams at roughly 1/4 inch from the open edge. Sew all the way down to the length of the bias strips so that tubes can be created.
Turn the first tube right side out, then try on the dress. Lace up the dress so you can determine what length is appropriate for you. Then, trim off all of the excess fabric so the length is just right.
Finally, place any loose ends on the inside of the tube by 1/2 inch. Top stitch across both openings to get them closed. After you do all of this, it’s time to put your dress on and lace up the corset so you can show it off some.
How to Make a Dress Bigger by Adding Fabric
Learning how to make a dress bigger by adding fabric only takes a few steps, and they’re easy steps at that. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that the right tools are important with this method. At the very least, you’ll need sharp scissors and a panel of fabric that you’ll cut from the exact same fabric as the dress.
This is important because what you’ll be doing is disguising the alteration so that no one knows this is what you did. It’s always best to get a piece of fabric that looks exactly like the rest of the fabric in the dress.
If you don’t have a piece of fabric that is an exact copy of the fabric you used in the dress, you have two options: either choose fabric that matches the dress in color or fabric that complements the dress and contrasts well.
You should also use caution when choosing the thread color. You want it to blend in with your fabric, as well as cover the seams. When this happens, the enlargement you’re about to make isn’t nearly as noticeable.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Sewing Space Is Just Right
You’ll want to make sure your sewing space is clean and has all of the tools you’ll need for the job. If your dress is brand new, go ahead and wash it before doing anything else. Finally, lay the dress on your sewing spot so that your measuring and cutting can be just right.
Step 2: Insert the Fabric Panel
At this point, the first thing you should do when learning how to make a dress bigger is to measure both the waist and the bust, and it needs to be done before any cutting of the fabric. This is the best way to make sure that the amount of fabric you’re using for your panel is big enough.
With your seam ripper, go ahead and open those seams located in the back of the dress. If there are no seams, just make straight cuts that run from the neck of the dress to the waist. If there’s a zipper, remove and discard it.
In addition, when you measure and cut the fabric, remember to leave space for a 1/2-inch seam. Once you complete this step, keep the right side of the fabric in the dress as you match the panel and the dress. Sew the panel in, then turn your dress right-side out.
Once you complete these steps, you’ll be ready to try the dress on so that any adjustments needed can be made. That’s all there is to making a dress bigger with this method!
Video: How to Make Dress Bigger by Adding Fabric to the Sides
The truth is, learning how to make a dress bigger usually involves just some basic sewing skills, and the best part is, you can do it either by hand or with a sewing machine. When people think about altering a dress, they usually think it means making it smaller, but as you can see, this isn’t always the case.
In fact, a fabric panel is the perfect item to use if you need a dress enlarged by two or more sizes. If you learn to tailor your own clothes, you’ll end up saving both time and a lot of money through the years.
4 Top Tips to Make it Easier to Make Your Dress Bigger
If you’re still a little nervous about determining how to make a dress bigger by adding fabric, below are a handful of tips you can use that might make it a little easier on you.
- Before you do anything else, decide if the dress can be let out or left alone. If the dress was sewn with extra material in the seams, you’re in luck. If the seams were cut too short, you might not be able to let it out.
- Always take your hip and waist measurements and write them down so you don’t forget them. Then measure the dress by measuring from one of the side seams to the other at the waist. Repeat with the hips, and then multiply each of those numbers by two so you get the hip and waist measurements of your dress.
- Finally, subtract your measurements for hips and waist from the number you just got. Divide that number by two, and that will indicate how many inches you’re going to let out your dress on each side.
- If you’re altering a dress with a zipper, removing the zipper is always the easiest method to use.
Learning how to make a dress bigger by adding fabric is not difficult and only involves a few simple steps. Once you learn how to do it the first time, it’ll be much easier the next time around. Mastering how to make a dress bigger can be a great skill to have, both now and in the future, thanks to the amount of time and money it can save.