Sew, What's Up

Sew What’s Up Presents

The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: kja2s
Date: 09-04-2005, 09:24 AM (1 of 6)
Good morning! I'm new to the site and look forward to learning lots from all of you, and sharing anything I know. Here's my problem:

I have a brand new skirt that is too big in the waist, not so big in the hips, and I would like to take it in myself. It has a zipper in the back, there are two side seams, and I would call it a yoke (about 2") waistband. The fabric is cotton, somewhat heavy, maybe like chino material.

Should I go to the alterations shop and pay them to do the work? It's so expensive. I'd really like to try myself, but hate to ruin the skirt.

I have a sewing machine, but have not made clothes since I was a teen. I can hem pants, etc. Can anyone help? Thanks for taking the time to read this long message. Best regards.
User: kja2s
Member since: 09-04-2005
Total posts: 3
From: SummersEchos
Date: 09-04-2005, 10:33 AM (2 of 6)
Hi kja2s,
Welcome to Sew Whats News. How much bigger is it in the waist? You could always add a touch of elastic to both sides to bring the waist in slightly. I think it depends how much you need to take in the waist area.

User: SummersEchos
Member since: 09-29-2004
Total posts: 884
From: kja2s
Date: 09-04-2005, 11:00 AM (3 of 6)
Good to hear from you, Summer! It's probably 2-3" too big so I don't think the elastic would work. Maybe if I washed it in warm water and dried in hot dryer it would shrink. It's 100% cotton.

Any advice is appreciated.
User: kja2s
Member since: 09-04-2005
Total posts: 3
From: DorothyL
Date: 09-04-2005, 11:56 AM (4 of 6)
Remember if you shrink it you will shrink the whole thing not just the waist. If you put the elastic on both sides, taking in an inch to two inches on either side it might be the easiest solution. Get good, strong, wide elastic though.
Otherwise you can take off the waste band and add darts, pleats or wider tapered seams.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: paroper
Date: 09-04-2005, 11:57 AM (5 of 6)
In a fitted skirt, the side seam is a dart. If you look at a pattern you'll see that it slopes in there. You can take some of your space out of that. For every flat amount that you take in is multiplied 4 times when you take it out of both sides. So, you remove the waist band...sorry no real way around it unless you can do this with elastic.

Depending on what kind of alterations you need an how you are made, you have some options. Minor alterations can be taken in the side seams and darts. If you take some from the darts, you'll need to also lengthen them in proportion to what you add (otherwise they will pooch at the bottom).

If you need more than the average alterations, you have some additional options. If you are pear shaped, take more of the alteration out of the sides. This will more exactly match your shape. If you have a bubble butt or you have a little extra in the front or are sway backed, you may be able to put an extra dart (up to four total two on each side) in the back on each side of a possible pre-existing dart. If the darts are not the same length, the longer dart goes closest to the center (back). The center of the dart goes on the straight of grain. The length of the dart is determined by how much you remove in the dart. Depending upon how you are shaped in front, you may also add another dart (up to 4 darts there also.) The front darts are shorter than the back darts In lieu of darts, you can use a simple tuck or two on each side. If you opt for tucks, they fold so that the opening faces the side seam. The front darts can have an arch from the seam to the tip, depending on your shape. Adjust your removal based on your shape and the look and fit of the garment. It always looks like you need to remove more than you'll need about 1/2 ease at the waist for comfort and movement. I usually adjust a comfortable fit and then back off the amout just slightly when I sew.

Alterations in the lining should duplicate the alterations in the skirt.

Now, about that waistband. If it has seams, divide up what you removed and split it between the seams on both sides so that they are even, You'll want to try to remove any extra bulk in the side seams so that they won't bulge. If It is a long undivided wasteband, I would leave the button hole and take it from the lap side. If you preserve the button hole, your garment will look more like a purchased garment. You'll just need to remember to leave the amount for the lap on the other side (just measure before placement) and replace your closure. You may find that your wasteband was sewn at the outside, folded but not turned under but instead it was edge finished and sewn down on the inside. If you have a blindstitch foot with a blade, you may be able to use this to "stitch in the ditch" (sititch in the seamline on top of the fabric) when you go to finish your waistband.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: kja2s
Date: 09-04-2005, 12:30 PM (6 of 6)
Thank you all for your suggestions. I have to admit that taking off the waistband scares me a little, but I may give it a try. It sounds like I can rip out the side seams part of the way and take in the seams and waistband as necessary.

Thanks again and wish me luck!
User: kja2s
Member since: 09-04-2005
Total posts: 3
Sew, What's Up
Search the “Sew What’s New” Archive:
Visit Sew What’s Up for the latest sewing and quilting tips and discussions.
This page was originally located on Sew What’s New ( at