How To Take in Side Seams and Facings

This is a mother of the bride dress and jacket that a customer brought in.

The short jacket needs to be altered at the sides. The jacket does not have lining, but it does have facings.

And because of the facings, we will need to alter both.

So, let’s learn how to take in side seams and facings, shall we?

dress and jackets, taking in the side seams and facings, 1055

Because I need to take in quite a bit on both sides of the jacket, I also needed to take in some fabric in the sleeves too.

Can you see the yellow headed pins and how I’ve pinned into the upper sleeve area as well? This works if the sleeves are really large and baggy in circumference around the upper arms.

pinning up the sides of a jacket, taking in the side seams and facings, 1054

(The other option in taking in the side seams, is to leave the sleeve alone and just taper your stitches back to the underarm seam as the diagram below shows). The new seamline would be the blue dotted line:

This is the method to use if the customer doesn’t want any excess fabric taken out of the sleeve as it sometimes  hinders the mobility of her arm.

diagram of where to sew side seams when taking them in, 1063

Ok, now for the jacket I am working on.

Looking at the diagram below, you can see my plan to take in the side seams as well as part of the sleeves. This is because the jacket was too big in the sleeve area too. Notice that I didn’t take the sleeve in all the way to the cuff. The cuff was fitting just as the customer wanted it to. Not taking in the cuff also means less work because I don’t have to alter the cuff area. I can leave it alone:

diagram of taking in side seams and arm on jacket, e9393

However, if your sleeve is too wide at the cuff area, you may need to take in the facings or take out the hem and re-stitch it with the newer, slimmer sleeve.

Now, let’s go back to the hem area of the jacket itself.

In the photo below, you can see that there was a facing on the inside of the jacket at the hemline:

inside of a jacket with facings, 1053

So, now I will show you how to alter that.

Once you understand this process, you can alter the facing, or hem, at the wrist with the same method.

To begin, I looked for under stitching .

This is usually found on the inside edge of the facing at the hem:

ripping out the understitching, taking in side seams and facings, 1048

I needed to take the jacket in about a total of two inches on the side seams. So, with a seam ripper, I took out about four inches of under stitching. This gives me enough room to work on the alterations easily.

Next, take out the stitching that holds the facing to the garment. Many times, it will be a bar tack of stitches. Sometimes, it will be several stitches in a line. Other times, you may have a ribbon that attaches the side seam to the facing. It all depends on the manufacturer.

If you pull back that facing, this is typically what you’ll see:

looking into jacket to alter side seams and facings, 1051

Next, I took out the lowest horizontal seam along the bottom of the jacket:

open up lowest seam, side seams and facings, 1047

Once you get that opened up, you’ll see that we can alter that facing:

take in facings and side seams, 1046

In this case, I took in about an inch (which translates to two inches total, if you count the front and the back).

Whatever amount you are going to take in at the lower side seam is the amount you will take in the facing because you want them to be the same so they’ll match up when you go to put the jacket all back together again.

Next, trim off the excess fabric and press the seam open.

If you can’t press the seam open because the original seamline stitches are in the way, take out the old stitches and then press the seam open.

Leave that hem area for a moment and travel up to the underarm seam.

If your underarm seam is continuous all the way from the hem to the wrist, you won’t have to do the next step.

But, most jackets have the side seam interupted by the underarm seam.

In other words, the side seam was sewn first and then the sleeve was sewn on.

If that is the case, you’ll most likely have a serged edge on that underarm seam, which the manufacturer did to keep the seam edges from fraying.

Remove more stitches than you need to so you have ample room to work in that area without having to come back and take out more:

taking apart the underarm seam, facings and side seams, 1050

I like using my little stork scissors for this type of work, but a seam ripper does the job too.

Once those stitches are taken out, pull the seam apart so you can work on it.

Now, take in the side seams of the jacket the amount you needed to alter it by. In the photo below, you can see the new seamline parallel to the original seam line:

new side seam, facings and side seams, 1045

Trim off the excess fabric and finish the raw edge.

Next, if you needed to take in the sleeve seam, do that now. When sewing it, taper it back to the original seamline, just above the wrist, as my last diagram showed.

If you hold the sleeve seam next to the side seam, they should match up.

matching side seam and sleeve seam, facings and side seams, 1044

Now,  match the sleeve seam to the side seam and re-stitch the underarm seam along the original seamline. In other words, attach the sleeve to the side seam:

pin in photo to attach side seam to sleeve, side seams and facings, 1043

Finish the raw edge with your serger or a zig zag stitch.

Now let’s go back to the lower edge of the jacket again.

At the lower hem edge, match the facing seam to the jacket side seam and stitch along the original seamline:

stitching facing to hem seam, side seams and facings, 1042

Understitch this area.

To under stitch, pull all the seam allowances toward the facing and stitch along the original stitching line.

under stitching facing, side seams and facings, 1041

This helps keep the facing turned under.

Reattach the side seam to the facing with a few stitches. You can do this on the seam allowance of the jacket.

That’s all there is to it!

You can use this technique on any garment that has facings.

If the garment has lining, it’s basically the same idea, only you would need to stitch up the lining when you are finished.

Any questions?

If so, send me an e-mail and a photo, if possible, and we’ll figure it out together.