How to Let out a Dress to Make It Bigger

A dress hanging on a door

Stacy Fisher

Learn how to let out a dress so you can make it bigger with this easy tutorial. It's the perfect solution to a dress that fits too tight. It's the opposite of taking in a dress, which is what you do to make a dress smaller.

You'll just need a few supplies to let out your dress and just a few basic sewing skills. It's a quick project that will take you less than an afternoon from start to finish. When you're done, you'll have a perfect fitting dress, all ready for your next night out.

  • 01 of 08

    Gather Your Supplies

    A dress, thread, pen, seam ripper, and measuring tape

    Stacy Fisher

    You'll need a few items to let out your dress. Here's what you'll need to get together:

    • Dress
    • Measuring tape
    • Marking pen or chalk
    • Seam ripper
    • Sewing machine
    • Matching thread
  • 02 of 08

    Determine If the Dress Can Be Let Out

    Close-up of a dress seam

    Stacy Fisher

    Before you let out a dress to make it bigger, you need to check to see if this is possible with your dress. The dress will have to have been sewn with extra material at the seams so it's possible to let it out.

    Wedding dresses, formal gowns, and nicer dresses will have the extra material at the seams but if you have a casual dress that you picked up at the department store, you might be out of luck.

    Turn the dress inside out and take a look at one of the side seams of the dress so you can see if it can be let out. You're looking for two different options. With the first, there will be extra fabric at the side seam that will be folded along the seam. If you were to remove the stitches, the extra fabric would unfold.

    The dress I'm letting out has an enclosed seam, with two lines of stitching. I can remove the first line of stitching and get a little bit of extra fabric that I can use to make my dress bigger.

    If you don't have any extra fabric at the seam, you won't be able to let out the dress.

  • 03 of 08

    Take Your Measurements

    Hips and waist measurements written down, pencil, thread, pen, measuring tape

    Stacy Fisher

    It's time to see how much larger you need to make your dress. Use your measuring tape to measure around your waist and hips and write this number down.

  • 04 of 08

    Measure the Dress

    A tape measuring measuring a dress

    Stacy Fisher 

    Take your measuring tape and measure from one side seam to the other on the dress at the waist and write this number down. Repeat with your hips. Take each number and then multiply it times 2 to determine the waist and hip measurements of the dress.

    Subtract your waist and hips measurement from the numbers you found. Divide this number by 2. This is the number of inches you'll need to let out the dress on each of the sides.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Inspect the Extra Fabric on the Dress

    Close-up of a dress seam

    Stacy Fisher 

    Take another look at the side seam of your dress to make sure that there's enough extra fabric to let the dress out so it will fit you. If there is, continue to the next step.

  • 06 of 08

    Try On the Dress

    A dress and marking pen

    Stacy Fisher 

    With the dress still inside out, try it on. Use your marking pen to make a mark at the top of where it starts to get tight, to the bottom where it starts to fit more comfortably. This will tell you how much of the seam you'll want to remove.

  • 07 of 08

    Remove the Dress Seams

    A dress, seam ripper, and red pen

    Stacy Fisher 

    Take off your dress and use your seam ripper to remove the seam at one of the sides of the dresses, starting where you marked at the top and ending at the bottom mark. Be careful not to rip any of the fabric while you're removing the stitches.

  • 08 of 08

    Sew Back Up the Dress

    A dress hanging on a door

    Stacy Fisher 

    If you're dealing with an enclosed seam like I am, you're done. Since you still have the outer seam intact, there's no need to sew anything up.

    If you have a dress that had an extra amount of folded fabric, you'll have to sew it back up. Make a mark at where you need the new seam to be, based on your measurements, and then use your sewing machine to sew it back up.

    Give your new seams a nice press with the iron so they lay flat.