Alterations and Projects

Here are some common categories where you’ll find many alteration and project how-tos — just click on any image and it will lead you to many posts.

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Alterations of all kinds:
You’ll notice over 100 articles across a multitude of topics and ability levels. I write posts as I receive work from my customers so some days it’s hems and other days, I am altering a bridal gown or making a bench seat cushion.

Start with some popular posts…

Searching Posts
If you’re looking for a particular sewing technique or alteration, type the topic in the search box and posts will appear for you to look at and learn. There may be several pages of posts to browse through.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you have a question about any of the articles, please send me an email at and I’ll respond right away!

Thanks for stopping by. Now, let’s get sewing!

68 replies to Alterations and Projects
  1. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your posts. I have a shop in North Carolina where I do primarly bridal and formal wear alterations. It is always good to see how other professionals preform different techniques.
    One technique I do a lot of is replacing zippers with a corset back. I just replace the zipper with loops, make a tie the length I need and sometimes make a modesty panel. It’s a perfect solution if her dress is several inches too tight. I use this technique instead of a guset because is easier if the dress is fully beaded or has applique that I can’t match. No one will ever know that it was not designed that way to start with!
    I have pre-made loops in ivory and white matt-satin. I have also pre-made the ties and modesty panels because I do this so often. Try it, you will love it and so will your girls!

    1. Where do you get premade loops from? My mom is altering my dress (she has lots of experience) but we are running short on time and she wants to find a strip of fabric with pre made loops that she can just sew into my dress.

    2. I add corsets to a lot of dresses too! I have put several in bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses because they insist on ordering dresses that are too small. I have found that as long as the color is a really good match, the fabric doesn’t have to be exactly the same. For example, on a burgundy chiffon dress, I could not find chiffon to match, but I found some polyester shantung that was nearly the exact same color. I used the nubby/matte side of the fabric and it was beautiful. The way clothing is made now allows for variations which makes matching optional! I make my own loops and ties. The loops aren’t quite as thin as manufactured ones, but they work fine.

      1. Hi Kristine,
        Thanks for your comments and your encouragement to use other fabrics if need be. I think sometimes we get too particular about finding the exact match (even thought that’s usually impossible). It’s great to know there are others out there who do this alteration. Sounds like you have lots of calls for them. Happy Sewing!

      2. i just got my prom dress, but its to big. i would like a corset back. is there anyway i can corset it myself without messing it up?

      3. Well, Christina, I’m not sure what you’re asking. The instructions I give are so that you can do it yourself if you have the sewing skills. If not, you would be better off to take it to a seamstress for alterations. Let me know if that doesn’t answer your question.


    3. I’ve had girls ask for the corset back even when the dress fits-I’ve had to cut the dress in a v shape at the back or there is no opening for the loops and tie. I go about 3″ over at the top of each side of the dress. I generally make my own loops but would be willing to buy them ready made if I knew where to get them, Anyone?

      1. Fran, you can use satin cording and other materials sold by the yard as well. Just check the cording/ribbon/lace section of your local fabric store. I can usually find something that works. Hope you can too!

    1. There is a tutorial on this subject! Look on the left side of this page where it says. “More Articles”. Click on “Select Category” and choose “Alterations”. Scroll through about three pages until you find the one entitled, “Halter Top or Halter Dress Alteration”.
      Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Linda,

    I just completed a zipper repair on a leather jacket where the tab had broken off the zipper slider. I ordered a zipper kit from Wawak tailoring supplies and was able to perform a quick repair.

    I learned the alteration on uTube. With the jacket facing me, I used a needle-nose plier to pull the broken zipper slider off the top of the left zipper tape. Then, I replaced it by sliding on the new zipper tab/slider on the left side of the jacket. I also replaced the top of the zipper with a top stop which came in the kit.

    Hope this was not as clear as mud. Anyway, I charged $10 for this alteration.

    Happy Sewing, Linda M.

    1. My name is Kerri and I also have an alteration business out of my home…..I am not quite sure on how I should be preicng some of the alterations I am doing…any suggestions?

      1. If you’ll type “pricing” into the search box, you’ll see the posts I have written on the subject. Let me know if they don’t answer your questions. Thanks!

  3. Hi Linda!
    I just got a dress in to work on- it is 3 inches too small across the back so she can’t zip it up. It has pleats by the zipper and the extra fabric I cut off from the hem won’t match up around the zipper due to the grain of the fabric. Will it work making gussets in the side seams? At least it wouldn’t be as noticeable under the arms or will I HAVE to add fabric through the zipper area? It’s a strapless dress and really and truly, I wished she would have ordered the correct size to begin with:(
    thanks for your response. Diane

    1. Yes, you could make gussets for sure. I think the corset back would also work because I don’t think the different looking fabric would be very noticeable with all the lace ups you’ll have. You can add fabric behind the corset or leave it so the skin is showing, whatever your preference.

      For those who haven’t seen the post on how to make a corset back, follow this link:

  4. Hi I noticed this comment and I dont know if you know it but the best way I have found to remove blood is using contact solution.. (this has to be the one that is more than just sodium cloride (salt solution))
    this works because the contact solution is made to break down protein and blood has a lot of protein in it.. it will lift it right out :D.

    Sorry I didn’t know where to post this comment. please put it in the right spot.

    p.s. only just found your blog today but amazing work.

    Stain Remover for Bridal Gowns
    Did you accidentally poke your finger with a pin or needle and get blood on your wedding gown?
    This solution sounds weird and maybe gross, but it works! Saturate the tip of a Q-tip with your saliva and gently blot it on your satin wedding gown. The blood comes right out. Of course, you’ll want to try it on a hidden area of the gown first just to be sure.

  5. Hi Linda,

    I am just restarting my home-based alterations business. So wish me blessings. 😉

    Anyway, do you have any clever suggestions for ripping out seams effectively. I think if I could rip out seams more efficiently, I could save time and make more money. For instance, I know there is a trick to knowing which thread to pull out when taking out a chain stitch or serger seam.

    Any suggestions?

    Linda M.

  6. hey i bought a dress which is slightly too small and need to widen the zipper any suggestions? its a reverse harness top dress x

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by widening the zipper. Type “corset back” in my search box and it wil bring up one of my posts on how to put one in. I think that post will answer your question. Let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks!

  7. Hi Linda! I think I have a good sense as to pricing alterations for adults, but what do you do about children’s clothes. I have few childs pants to hem. Do the same rules apply, or would you charge a bit less?

    Thanks so much!
    Sharon Tabaka

  8. Hi Linda!! I ordered a knit sweater online which was a ‘huge’ mistake because even the small that I ordered is enormous! I could send it back, and exchange it for a smaller size, but then I would have to pay shipping and duty on it again. How could I alter this knit sweater so that it fits better without it unraveling on me? Is there a way? Could I do it myself or should I call in a professional? or is this a lost cause and I should send it back?

    Kienna Gibbard

    1. It depends on the sweater, but since it’s so huge, I would not try. You’d have to take the whole thing apart and trim it down and put it back together again. It’s alot of work. You could take it to a professional and let them give you free advice. If they say it’s not worth it, I’d give it to someone you know as a present. I hope you have success!

  9. Great site……Need help……a neighbor asked me to hem her daughter’s beaded prom gown. It is difficult so I need to ask how do I charge for this favor as it is not a simple hem that I would do for someone. Thanks

    1. Well, that is a good question. Without seeing the dress, I don’t know how much beading we are talking about. These are the kind of alterations that if they were to take to an alteration shop, would probably cost more than they are willing to pay. It all comes down to how much are you willing to risk in friendship. If it is a favor, keep your expectation of payment low because it is a favor. You may just want to set a price and then not look at the clock to see how much time you actually spent on the garment. That way you won’t get upset that you didn’t charge more. In other words, there is not good answer as to price when you are doing something as a favor. I hope that helps.

  10. I have a halter top given to me, its silk and has some thread pieces coming off the part where the breasts go (on the outside) as if it got caught on something, is there any way to fix this or would it look good if I added some sort of “patch”, like a flower type patch?

  11. PLA: I have three cotton long sleeves men shirts that the customer would like to have these shirts sleeves cut off to make short sleeves shirts. The cotton shirts fabric will not give and at the shoulder length short sleeve is 11 inches and at the underarm length is 8 inches. There is no way to turn the fabric to make a hem. Whenn doing this with a knit fabric the knit will give enough to be able to hem the sleeve.
    I would appreciate any suggestions.

    1. Hi, Ok, I didn’t see the part about your dress being too big. Sorry about that. There is a way to put a corset in, but it means having to take your dress in so much that it is too small in the back. Does that make sense? It is ALOT of work and unless you know how to do those alterations, it is going to cost you big money to have a seamstress do it. I don’t k ow how big your dress is on you, but you may still have to pay a lot for alterations depending on how much work needs to be done. If you got the dress for almost no money, then it won’t be so painful to write that check. I’m sorry if you paid a lot. I hope it is the dress of your dreams. Keep asking questions if I haven’t answered what you’ve asked. Thanks Christina. I wish you the best. Linda

  12. actually, i got the dress for free. my aunt passed it down to me. theres about two inches of extra fabric when i put it on.


    1. I don’t have a photo to make a good judgement call, but yes, it can be done. If it is heavily encrusted with beads, it will cost alot. If there are only beads sacttered here and there, not so much. But your best bet is to ask a local seamstress what they would charge.

      Hope that helps! Linda

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Sew for dough

  14. Because I sew RenFaire costumes I deal with corsets a lot. I have found that if you are making your own lacing that a good trick is to go to the electrical department and pick up a package of small clear heat shrink and cut it into 1″ lengths. When you get the lacing the length you want take a drop of glue and put it on the end of the ribbon or cording and roll it in you finger and stick it in the heat shrink and then using you fire place lighter shrink it a little. be careful to not heat it too long and it is best to practice a couple of times on scrap. But this makes the lacing easy to insert in the loops because it is just like a shoe string end. I discovered this on a Rob Roy jacket that had about a dozen laces of different lengths that needed to match. i use a lot of the satin cord that you get by the yard at JoAnn’s or WalMart. it looks good and last well. With these costumes you know they are going to wear them over several years and they need to adjust to the persons size changing.

  15. I have just taken on my first “pro” alteration job. I’ve sewn for 56 years & use to win blue ribbons and a few awards, so I have a good skill set but I’m stumped.

    The client had a previous alteration attempt which resulted in his request to have pant waist taken in 1″ & ths crotch shorten abouq” – 2″. Since measuring him was not possible

    1. Type “Halter Top” into the search box on my blog. You’ll find a post on how to do that alteration. I am having trouble sending you the direct link on my tablet, but you should be able to find it without any trouble.

  16. Recently, I was asked to alter a man’s suit from a size 44 to a 42. I am not familiar with men’s alterations. Do you have any articles on this subject?

    1. I don’t typically write about men’s alterations except for their slacks. To alter a suit down two sizes involves taking up the placket in the sleeve, the vent in the back and the shoulders. All of these alterations are time consuming and costly. Generally, it is cheaper for the man to buy a new suit! So, if he is willing to pay the extra money, but you aren’t familiar or comfortable with how to do those alterations, I would pass on the job, even if you’ve already said yes. Just tell him you’ve consulted with another seamstress, and this is the conclusion. Hope that helps.

  17. I recently purchased a ball gown that has an entirely beaded top. Full out pearls everywhere. However the dress is too large and has a zipper back. I’m not sure How to fix it or how much it could cost me. Any ideas?

  18. Hi I just bought a prom dress and it’s a halter top. The problem is it fits everywhere else but the bust is too big. If I have the top pulled up it would look weird and the sides are still too big . It has a lot of beading. Can this even be fixed?

    1. I wrote a post on how to do this alteration. Type it in the search box and it will come up for you. If you still have trouble, go to an alteration shop and see what they recommend. I hope that helps.

  19. Hi ,
    How do I change the neck line of a dress that’s straight into a sweet heart neck line. I haven’t seen the dress yet.

    1. The easiest way is to go buy a pattern that has a sweetheart neckline and copy it. then ask the customer to finalize the new neckline before you change it.

  20. Girl cannot afford a new prom dress it has 8 layers of tulling. Some of the layers on the bottom are torn,they are torn more than what I have to hem. How can I fix the tears in the tulling and shorten that many layers Thankyou

    1. Since I can’t see the dress, I don’t know for sure, but one of the things you can do is replace the tulle. Tulle is very inexpensive and it might be the solution. Then, you can cut each layer the exact length you need and stitch it to the main fabric of the skirt. Hope that helps!

  21. I need to alter scrub jackets for a woman who lost 22 pounds after she purchased them. They are embroidered with the dental clinic she works for, so she can’t return them. These jackets have snaps in the front, they aren’t pullover tops. They are too wide in the shoulders, the sleeves are too long and too big around. My concern is is that she is very large busted. They have set in sleeves. So, my question is, should I remove the sleeves, shorten the shoulder seam, reattach the sleeves, cut off the length needed to shorten the sleeves from the bottom of the sleeve (they have ribbing cuffs) and reattach the cuffs, then take in the side seams, making sure to leave room for her to snap them closed when needed? I tried taking one in by just basting in the side seams and sleeve, but there is still too much fabric at the underarm. Would appreciate any help you can give, thank you, Helen

    1. Hi Helen,
      This is a great alteration question because there are a few things to think about when taking on a job like this. First, in order to do all of the things you are thinking of doing would cost the customer two or three times what a new scrub top would cost. If the customer is ok with that, then doing all of those things is possible, but it is difficult to get a great fit if you have to remake the top. This post explains what I’m talking about a little more in detail:

      So, let’s say she doesn’t want to pay that much for an alteration to each of these scrub tops. You also want to consider what you can do to get the most bang for her buck. In this case, I would take as much out of the side seams and sleeves as I could, not tampering with the cuffs, as I don’t think it’s necessary. Once you’ve taken out what you can, maybe let the rest go. This post shows a hand drawn diagram that outlines what part of the sleeve and side seams need to be taken in:

      You may need to take in much more than the diagram shows. Yes, they may be still too large, but they are a lot better than what she started with. It’s up to you and the customer to decide how much work is worth doing for scrub tops. Maybe comfort for her is a bigger priority than price.
      I hope this helps you figure out how much or how little to do.

  22. hi i have a beauitful wedding dress with a corset back,but on my big day i will have no help in doing the laces up,(long story so i was thinking if i leave the corset done up but loose n have it as a decoration could i put in a side zip instead

  23. could you help me with a halter neck top lined as well . the bust part is a little to revealing around the for side /under arm area is there a way that i could add a piece of material/lace ? without making it look silly for more coverage . it is smart wear / evening jump suit

    1. Yes, Karen, you can sure add a piece of material or lace to your halter top. You might want to contact a seamstress friend or relative in your area to show you how to do that as that would require someone with that kind of experience if you didn’t know how.

  24. I have a dress pattern that has a zipper in the back. How can I alter the pattern to make it without a back zipper?

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