How to Reduce the Size of a Skirt? Update 06/2022

Do not stress if you have found the perfect skirt for your upcoming concert, party, or interview, but the waist is a little too big. In most cases, you may easily change the waist and seams of a skirt to fit your body type. By simply folding the skirt, you can learn how to reduce the size of a skirt.

Taking in the seams or adding darts to the waist is the greatest technique to reduce the size of a skirt. Adding elastic to the rear of the waistband or hand-sewing the waistband are two further options. Inserting safety pins or hairpins into a skirt is an easy way to make it smaller without stitching.

You’ll find out eight different ways to make a skirt smaller in this article. As you alter a skirt, you’ll learn how to deal with zippers and pockets. Finally, you’ll learn how to make a skirt smaller without having to cut or sew a single stitch!


Can You Alter a Skirt to Make It Smaller?

Many methods exist for reducing the size of a skirt, including mending the skirt or using elastic to tighten the waistline. Making a garment smaller is considerably simpler than making it larger! A simple alteration of a skirt’s size can be done by any tailor or seamstress.

The good news is that altering a skirt to make it smaller is also possible! You can permanently adjust the skirt by taking in seams or adding darts to the waistband, depending on the tools you have available. A skirt with an elastic waist, pockets or a zip-up front is also within your reach of mastery.

It is possible to make some minor adjustments to your garments without a sewing machine. Alternately, you can discover a few tricks for reducing the size of a skirt without ever cutting or stitching.

In reality, most ready-to-wear garments are available in “universal” sizes that are intended to fit the majority of people within a specific weight range. That being the case, you can’t have a single piece of apparel that can properly fit everyone’s body form. If you know how to alter ready-to-wear garments to fit your physique, you may buy cute outfits from places like Target or TJ Maxx and wear them with confidence!

How to Make a Skirt Smaller: 8 Methods

There are a variety of techniques to reduce the size of a skirt, from simply adding a belt to the waist to tearing out the seams and resewing them. Some methods require more time and expertise, but you can always pick up new skills as you go along! There are others that offer a short-term remedy that will not permanently alter the skirt’s size but can be used in an emergency.

1. Take in Seams

Taking in the seams is the most effective method of reducing the size of a skirt. To make a skirt one or two sizes smaller, a tailor or seamstress may utilize this approach. Despite the fact that this technique requires some time and patience, it isn’t that tough for sewing.

A waistband and side seams are common features of most skirts. Take the seams all the way down the sides and make the sides of the waistband smaller for a fitted skirt like a tiny skirt or a pencil skirt. When making an A-line skirt, only the tops of the side seams and the waistband need to be shortened.

There are instructions in this article, however, whether your skirt includes an elastic waistband or side pockets!

In order to effectively accomplish this technique you will need to have access to an ironing board, a seam ripper, scissors, and a color-matched thread.

  1. The skirt should be tried on from the inside out. Try this method if it’s just a smidge too loose! This item may be far too large for you and you should give up on it if it is draping over your body in an uncomfortable manner.
  2. Take hold of your waist and hips, pinching each side seam between your fingers as you do so. It’s important to collect an equal amount of money on either side. Using a pin, pin down the side seam of the skirt to determine where to stitch.
  3. Remove the skirt from the inside out. It’s important to have a line of pins running through the original side seam sewing.
  4. Use chalk to draw a clean line where you pounded down your pins. Draw this line all the way to the hem if you’re making a fitted skirt. If you don’t want to sew the skirt all the way down, you can loosen it up by adjusting the chalk line from the waistband to the initial stitching in the side seam.
  5. You may find this stage difficult, but it is the only difficult portion of the process! At the side seams, you will need a seam ripper in order to untie any stitching that holds the waistband in place. You don’t need to completely remove the waistline. Separate the two parts of the waistband and the side seams.
  6. Using a basting stitch on your sewing machine is the best way to get started. As it’s a long, loose stitch, it’s simple to undo.
  7. Sew along the chalk line using the basting stitch. For the time being, let the waistband loose and simply resew the skirt’s side seams.
  8. Try on the skirt after you’ve removed the pins to make sure it’s the right size.
  9. Using a standard thread length, sew over the basting stitches if you like the improved fit.
  10. Make sure the new side seams you sewed in the skirt match up perfectly with the tiny side seams in the waistband.
  11. The waistband must now be reattached to the skirt in the regions that were previously pulled out. Turn the waistband inside out and pin it to the skirt’s waist with the right sides facing each other. When you ripped out stitches, use your sewing machine to sew across the gap.
  12. Use an iron to press the newly sewn seams flat and make the waistband lie nice.

This method not only reduces the size of your skirt, but it also allows you to customize the side seams to better fit your figure. A curvy side seam can be sewn into the new side seams, for example, if your hips are curved

2. Insert Darts at Waistband

It is possible to reduce the size of a skirt by adding darts at the waist. If you have curved hips but a flat posterior, you may want to try this strategy to keep the skirt from bagging out at the seat.

Many sewers prefer to adjust the side seams than to sew darts, although this approach does not always need more effort than altering the side seams. However, with enough practice, anyone can master the art of throwing a dart!

It’s important to know exactly what a dart is first. Pinching off a triangle from a piece of fabric is a common way of sizing garments. If you look at this diagram, you’ll see that the widest end of a triangle intersects with a seam. The widest part of the skirt is formed by the narrow end of the triangle.

Pencil and A-line skirts both have darts in the waist that you can use.

  1. Wearing it will allow you to see how much material has to be gathered around your waist. Remove the skirt one piece at a time by pinning it in place with a safety pin.
  2. To figure out how much waist material to incorporate in the darts, take a measurement of the extra fabric. To figure out how big to make the top of each dart, divide this amount by four!
  3. Using a seam ripper, carefully remove the waistband from the skirt by turning it inside out. You’ll need it later, so put it away.
  4. For this step, locate a point on each side of the skirt’s waist. Use a sewing pin or chalk to mark the midway point between the center and the side seam of the skirt. Then mark the two spots in front and the two in rear, and keep going until you’ve marked all four points.
  5. Then, using a ruler or measuring tape, determine how much space you need for each dart by centering it on your four markers. In the example above, if you discovered that the skirt was two inches too big, you need to divide two inches by four, which implies that each dart should measure half an inch at its widest point.
  6. Pinch the dart points together with the correct sides of the skirt together after marking both edges of each dart.
  7. Insert a pin at the marks you just made to secure the triangles in place.
  8. A chalk line drawn from that point all the way to the bottom of the triangle where it tapers into the skirt may also be helpful.
  9. Just a few stitches from from the fabric’s edge, sew a chalk line from the widest point of the triangle to the tapering point.
  10. Then, do the same with the remaining darts.
  11. At the point of the triangle, leave a long tail of thread and tie it off by hand.
  12. You will need to sew new side seams on the waistband to make it smaller because the waist of the skirt is now smaller than the waistband’s diameter.
  13. Re-attach the waistband to the skirt by pinning it in place, right sides together, once the waistband has been matched. Then sew all the way around the waist’s circle.
  14. Once you’ve pressed the waistband and the darts flat, you’re done!

3. Insert Elastic

Dancers and theater wardrobe managers frequently employ the tactic of threading elastic through the back of the waistband to rapidly adjust a costume to a performer. You won’t get that scrunched-up look from a skirt with a complete elastic waist if you use this method.

This method requires wide elastic, a needle, and pins.

  1. The waistband’s center back should be located. Use a pin to mark this location. The more elastic you measure out, the more room you have to work with. Next, measure out several inches on either side of this point. Measure four to five inches on either side of the middle point of the waistband if you want it to be significantly smaller.
  2. Set your markings on the elastic and cut a piece that is slightly longer than the space between the markings. You can tighten the elastic later by trimming it, but for the time being, make sure it’s flat on the inside of the waistband before you begin sewing. Pin the elastic ends to the markings you’ve made.
  3. Buttonhole thread can be used to form a casing for the elastic. In comparison to regular sewing thread, this type of thread is heavier and thicker.
  4. Make a couple of tiny stitches at the top of the waistband at one end of the elastic and then tie off your thread. The elastic should not be sewn through!
  5. Take a stitch in the waistband about a half-inch away from the elastic’s end, bringing the thread diagonally over the elastic.
  6. Reattach the thread to the elastic about an inch above the previous position. Take a little stitch here and finish it off. You should now have a “V” shape of thread crossing the elastic.
  7. Bring the thread up to a point one inch from the elastic’s end, right above the elastic. Take a tiny stitch here, and then finish the rest of the project. Using a “V” form of thread, you should now be able to cross elastic.
  8. The elastic is now yours to play with! Pull on the loose end of the elastic until you have the appropriate amount of tightening. Pin down the loose end.
  9. Using a seam ripper, remove the extra elastic from the garment.

4. Alter Hem to Make Skirt Tighter at the Bottom

Take in the side seams at the hem to tighten a skirt’s bottom half. Pin the side seams together and sew a new line of threads inside the original stitching in most skirts.

Because of this, the bottom of the skirt’s opening is now a more narrow circle. In order to complete this simple procedure, you don’t even need to remove old stitching or sew a new hem.

However, attempting this can result in a very tight skirt that limits your range of motion. Slitting the center back of your skirt or adding a kick pleat may help you achieve the narrower silhouette you desire.

5. Alter Waistband By Hand

It’s possible to change the shape of a waistline by hand using the methods outlined in the preceding sections. In order to complete the new seams, you’ll need to use a needle and thread.

This procedure necessitates a significant investment of time and perseverance. The good news is that the small, virtually undetectable stitches allow you to keep everything flat and tidy. Because of this, a number of high-end fashion lines use hand-stitched features!

There are two methods for making waistband adjustments by hand, one of which is cutting off the button and repositioning it further away from its original location. When you close the button, the waist will be a little smaller!

How To Make A Skirt Smaller

6. Make Skirt Smaller Without Sewing

Inserting safety pins in strategic places is the quickest and easiest technique to shrink a skirt without sewing. This is not a long-term solution! That said, it can save the day when you’re short on time for a party or function, and you’re desperate to keep your skirt in place.

Making a little pleat on either side of the center back seam with safety pins is a quick and easy solution to reduce the size of a skirt. The pleat can be held in place by inserting a safety pin into the waistband from the inside.

To further reduce the size of your skirt, try wearing it inside-out and pinching the loose fabric of the waistband on either side of your waist with the use of safety pins. As if you were stitching a new seam inside an existing one, insert small safety pins into the front of the waistband and down over your hips. Turn the skirt around so the right side is facing out, then wear it!

7. Make a Skirt Smaller Without Cutting

You can use fashion tape or a bobby pin to reduce the size of a skirt without cutting it. Safety pins are also a viable option, as seen in the preceding section!

If you’re returning a skirt to a friend after wearing it and need to make some minor alterations, you can do it without ruining the skirt.

Making a pleat at the side seams or the center back and securing it with a bobby pin is an easy technique to temporarily shrink your skirt without cutting it. Using a hairpin instead of a safety pin will help keep the pleat in place.

You can also use fashion tape or hem tape to hold the fabric in place after folding it neatly into a triangle on both sides of the center back. So keep that in mind if you’re going to use this tape! It won’t come out very easily!

Also, you could use hem tape in place of sewing to make your skirt shorter or tighter at the side seams without sewing.

8. Loose Skirt Hack

If you’re looking for an easy solution to reduce the size of your skirt, a loose skirt hack is a great option!

  • A belt is a need. This may sound simple, but it’s a great way to keep your skirt in place while making a design statement! You can cover your belt with a loose blouse if you don’t want others to see it.
  • Wash the skirt in hot water and then dry it in the dryer to shrink it. Denim and other cotton materials will perform well with this technique, which does come with some danger. Attempting to shrink anything made of wool or silk is a bad idea.
  • A long shoelace can be used to tie around your waist to keep it in place. In order to turn this fold inside out, you will need to slide it over the shoelace as you perform this fold. Fold over the top of your skirt waistband. In order to keep the twice-folded waistline in place, tie a tight shoelace around the waistband.

How to Fix a Skirt That Is Too Big in the Waist Without Sewing

Safety pins or commercial devices like mitten clips can be used to attach a skirt with an oversized waistband that doesn’t require stitching.

Using safety pins to hold a skirt in place is a quick and easy solution, but it might cause bulges at the waistband. For the sake of keeping your skirt from dangling around your ankles, don’t hesitate! On the other hand, commercial products are a better option if your goal is to appear polished and professional.

A wide variety of styles, colors, and measurements are available for elastic mitten clips. In the snow, youngsters use them to hold onto their mittens or gloves, but you can also put one of these guys in the rear of your pants!

Tighten the elastic around the waistline a little bit before attaching the other clip to its opposite side. It couldn’t be easier! The front of the skirt will be more securely wrapped around your waist as a result.

How to Take in a Skirt with a Back Zipper

In order to get a skirt with a back zipper to fit, all you have to do is take in the side seams. To use the dart approach, you will need to remove the zipper from the waistband and then sew it back in using a zipper foot on your sewing machine if you want to keep the zipper intact at the waist.

This takes a fair bit of work, so you will find it a lot easier to take in the side seams, instead!

This takes a fair bit of work, so you will find it a lot easier to take in the side seams, instead!

How to Make a Long Skirt Shorter and Tighter

In comparison, taking in the side seams will save you a ton of time and effort.

A semi-professional makeover for your long skirt can be achieved by removing some of the seams to suit the waist and hips to your body.

By simply measuring where you want the skirt to stop, cutting out the excess fabric, and hemstitching your new hem into place, you can easily shorten a skirt to your desired length!

How to Take in a Skirt with Pockets

Using a seam ripper and removing the pockets from the original side seam is the best technique to take in a skirt with pockets. While sewing in new side seams, you can then reinstall the pockets.

It’s a lot of work to go through this. Adding darts to the front and back of the waist rather than taking in the side seams may be a better option in this case.

It’s difficult to make changes to a pocket skirt without sewing. Even safety pins won’t work if you try to pin over the pockets, even if you use a belt. The most time-consuming option is to remove the pockets and sew them back in again.

How to Take in a Skirt with an Elastic Waist

You can take in a skirt with an elastic waist in one of three ways, depending on your time and supplies.

For starters, you can reach the elastic by cutting a small hole in the waistband casing. When you’re satisfied with the fit, cut off a small amount of elastic. In the end, a safety pin is all that’s needed to reattach the elastic.

If you need to put on the skirt right away, this is the fastest technique to tighten the waistline.

Alternatively, you can stitch the elastic back together instead of using a safety pin in the same way. Instead of using a safety pin, try this approach. You can use a sewing machine or a needle and thread to do this task.

However, if you reduce the elastic by more than an inch, you could end up with a bunching of the cloth around the waist that isn’t very appealing. You might attempt the third method to address this issue.

An elastic skirt’s waistline can be taken in by sewing a section of the elastic back on before stapling the waistband back on. This method is most professional-looking. You can eliminate the problem of the skirt bunching up by removing some of the fabric from the skirt’s sides this way!

Can a Seamstress Fix My Skirt?

Almost every type of skirt can be made smaller by a skilled seamstress or tailor. However, making clothes smaller requires a lot of talent, but it is far easier than making them larger.

Shorten the hem, add darts at the waist, take in the side seams, or relocate zippers or pockets with the help of a seamstress.

You can, of course, make the changes yourself! A seamstress or tailor can give you the best results and make your skirt look as custom-made as possible if you have an expensive skirt that needs alterations.

Depending on the difficulty of the job, most professional skirt modifications range in price from $25 to $45.


To reduce the size of a skirt, you can use a variety of techniques such as taking in the side seams or stitching darts. Alternatively, you can use a needle and thread to sew the changes together by hand. Take in the side seams above the hem of the skirt if you want to reduce the skirt’s bottom opening.

In order to reduce the size of a skirt without sewing, you can use basic hacks such as a belt, a shoelace folded over the waistband, or the placement of safety pins or mitten clips in the waistband.

Have you ever had to wear a skirt that was too large? How did you reduce the size of this? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

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