Which are the Easy Alterations


Would you be able to make a post about what kinds of alterations are easy and affordable to make? I’m not plus sized but I’m petite, so many things don’t fit. Having hemlines shortened is an easy one, but I’ve understood that for instance the extra space in the upper back could be taken in by adding/taking in the vertical seams. The problem is that I have no idea about sewing or patterning, so it’s impossible for me (and I believe many others) to figure out which alterations are easy and which will involve serious re-sewing.

Easy alterations guide

Here are a few ideas on what you can do to improve the fit of your clothing.

Plus think about:

  • Having the sleeves taken in if they are wide.  A slimmer sleeve will suit a more petite figure as extra fabric is not your friend.
  • If you have a flat bottom, take in the rise seam at the back of  your trousers if they bag under the bottom (there is only so much you can do here).
  • If you have slim thighs you can have the side seams of your trousers and skirts taken in if there is extra fabric there (they can start looking like jodpurs!)
  • Add in darts to your clothing for extra shaping – when thinking about having clothing altered, often more smaller alterations will create a better fit (taking in not only side seams but adding darts), than just taking in at the existing seams.
  • Take up a garment from the shoulders – particularly if the armholes are deep, this will often make the top/dress look and sit better on you.
  • If your trouser or skirt pockets at the hip bulge open, have the pocket sewn closed and the pocket fabric removed for a sleeker line.

What are your most common alterations?

Which alterations make the biggest different to the fit of your garments?



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  • Sleeves and hems.

    What about suit jackets for petites? I am eying one that has a horizontal seam near the waist (petite size jacket) but it’s about 1 inch below my waist. Not quite a peplum style but maybe tailored peplum. Could a jacket be shortened by raising that seam, which would also make it fit my curves?

  • Usually need a generous bust area and shorter length for pants. There is a 5 size or greater difference between my frame and my bust and I don’t believe they alter garments that much without changing details. I usually just buy tank or t-shirt style tops and dresses with some stretch as they fit my frame and accommodate my bust. I’ve found that I can occasionally wear tops and dresses with a bust detail as long as it fits my bust but usually I have to up size for those. I belt most dresses. Pair tops and shorter dresses with high waist petite length pants as lower rises fall off of me when I move and regular length pants are too long.

  • I am big busted with a narrow back, I find myself either putting a couple of darts in the back at the shoulder or just breaking down and putting a new seam down the middle back. Also when I take in the shoulder to fix a gaping armhole, I slant the seam, in effect making a dart with the widest part at the shoulder point and the point at the neck.

    Since I’ve been losing weight I find myself removing waistbands to shorten the stride in my pants, but you can only do that once, maybe twice. I think that last sentence was unclear. You remove the waistband, shorten the pant from the top and replace the waistband. If it’s an elastic waist, you can fold it down once and tack it or just add more elastic over the old and stitch. These tend to be bulky so I only do it to my at home clothes.


  • Please can you advise on how to shorten sleeves on soft jackets and knits. Do you cut off excess fabric and then hem it, or it it better that they are gathered up ? (as in your altering knits piece)

  • I agree wholeheartedly about slim fitting sleeves on a small boned figure ( I am petite above the waist, average below the waist, with long legs ). I think I read that Coco Chanel was obsessed about the fit of the sleeve on the body. My jackets and shirts that skim close to my shoulders and upper arms look so much more attractive than baggier ones.

    When I realized that I am petite on my top half only, that helped me figure out what type of alterations to focus on. For me, often the biggest impact comes from taking close to an inch right from the shoulder seam, just pulling the whole garment up right there makes it fit so much better. This is only possible on a limited number of items, however, usually the finishing details of the neck prohibit it. I sometimes take in side seams above the waist and into the upper arms. I have also added darts to shirts. All these things help for a petite-on-the-top body.

  • Judy B

    Do you find that alteration, where you pull up at the shoulder, to be difficult? Do you alter or take it to a tailor? I have realized for the past year how much better my tops would fit if I could do that, and ruined one or two trying (I’m not good at sewing).

  • I’m not understanding what pulling up at the shoulder is. Is it making the armholes less deep. I too am obsessed with sleeve fit and will alter (or have altered) big sleeves or armholes on most anything including sweaters.

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