Alteration Ideas to Lengthen an A-Line Dress

Add length to make a too-short dress fit.

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Whether you have a casual or formal A-line-style dress, a too-short dress can ruin your look. Depending upon the style, an A-line dress flares from the shoulders, bust, empire waistline or natural waist. An A-line skirt or dress has a curved hem. Adding length to an A-line style may pose some challenges, but with a bit of creativity you can make your dress reach your knees, ankles or the floor.

Letting Out a Hem

If you need only an additional inch or two, you may be able to let out the original hem and make a narrower hem or replace it with hem facing. Use a seam ripper to remove the hem stitches. Press or steam the dress to eliminate creasing. Iron a new hem into place and stitch by hand or machine. If you would like a prettier finish on the inside of your skirt, cut diagonal or bias strips of a coordinating fabric to use as facing. Stitch the hem facing to the outside of the dress with a one-fourth-inch seam allowance. Fold the hem facing to the inside and press this new hem into place. Sew by hand for a neat finish.

Adding a Contrast Hem Band

Lengthen your A-line dress by adding a contrasting hem band. Choose a fabric with a similar weight and drape. Pair a lightweight silk or satin A-line with chiffon or a casual cotton dress with a cotton print. Trace the hemline of your dress onto butcher paper. Extend the side seams by the desired amount and draw a curve that mirrors the original hem between the two seams. Add half an inch to the total length and width for seams. Cut four hem bands and stitch the side seams together with a one-fourth-inch seam allowance to create two complete bands. Place the two bands right sides together and sew one-fourth inch from the edge. Press the completed hem band. Remove the original hem on your dress with a seam ripper and pin the hem band to the dress with the right sides together. Stitch one-fourth inch from the edge. Press the seam upward and sew near the edge.

Incorporating a Waistband

If your A-line dress has a waist seam, you can add length by stitching a contrasting or coordinating waistband into your dress. Use a seam ripper to deconstruct the original waist seam. Trace the width of the dress. Create a rectangular or polygonal pattern, depending upon the shape of your dress. Allow a half inch to 1 inch for side seams. Cut your waistband pieces and stitch the side seams. Pin the waistband to the bodice of your dress with the right sides of the fabric facing one another and sew. Try on your lengthened bodice to check the fit before you stitch the skirt into place. This alteration can easily add approximately 2 inches, but it is not ideal to add significant length. If you need more length, combine a waistband alteration with a contrast hem band. Wear a sash or belt over the added waistband if you like.

Use an Underskirt

If you can't add the length you need in traditional ways or these alterations would change the look of your dress, you can lengthen your dress by adding a slip or underskirt. Choose fabrics that pair well with your dress, perhaps lace, tulle or chiffon. Use your favorite A-line skirt pattern to construct a simple A-line skirt . Add a narrow elastic waistband to wear it under your dress or stitch the underskirt into the inside of your dress.

Related Videos




Oliver and S: Lengthening and Shortening a Pattern
Threads; Go to Great Lengths; Annie O'Connor
"Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics"; Francesca DenHartog; 2006

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