How to Take in a Dress and Make it Smaller

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How to Take In a Dress: Materials You'll Need

Make a dress smaller
Make a dress smaller by taking it in with this quick tutorial. Betsie Van der Meer

Sometimes that perfect dress isn't the perfect size. You don't have to be a professional seamstress to fix this problem. Adjust a dress that is too large with these easy instructions.

What you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Medium sized sewing needle
  • Thread: closely match the thread previously used in the seam
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors 
  •  Seam ripper ​(optional): handy if you make mistakes

Gather your supplies, and you're ready to measure to fit.

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Take Your Measurements

How to Take In a Dress
Take your measurements.

"Taking in" a dress means that you are moving the seam inward from its current position. Measure around your waist and hips. Measure the front and back of the dress at the waist and hips. Subtract the difference of each measurement. This is approximately how much room you need to take in the waist and the hips, respectively.

Next, measure the new seam.

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Measure Your New Seam

How to Take In a Dress
Mark your new seam.

You will be calculating a quarter of the amount you need to take in. For example, if you need to take two inches, then you would mark ½” from the stitching on each side. Using a small piece of chalk, measure in from the seam and mark where you will be sewing it.

Next, sew your new seams.

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Sew the New Seam

How to Take In a Dress
Sew the new seam.

Begin to sew where the side seam crosses another seam, like at the armpit, bust or hips. Sew straight down using a straight stitch. Leave the extra fabric in place as a very large seam. This way, you can let it out if you need to in the future. Finish the raw edges on the seam with a zigzag stitch to prevent the fabric from unraveling.

If you have taken the dress in too much, see my instructions for letting out a dress.