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How to Fix a Skirt That’s Too Big

Hi, I am Cyndi Marziani, the owner of In this lesson, I am going to show you what to do if you have a skirt that’s just a little too big and how to alter it so that it retains the same look and feel that it had originally. So, when you have a skirt that is too big on a girl, you need to decide if she is at a point where she is possibly going to continue to grow. If continued growth is possible, you want to make sure and leave room for that possibility. There are two different ways to alter this skirt.


  1. Skirt
  2. Thread to match skirt
  3. Measuring Tape
  4. Pins
  5. Scissors
  6. Sewing Machine
  7. Loop puller or safety pin


  1. Choosing Your Materials

There is not a lot of “Choosing Your Materials” in this project. Basically, the choice is made for you when you find you have a skirt that is too big.

  1. Two Methods to Take in the Waist

The first method is to use pleats to take in the waist, and the second method uses elastic to cinch in the waist.

  1. The First Method – Using Pleats

The first method is super easy but it is not necessarily my favorite unless the costume really calls for it. That method of altering the skirt is to take the back seam and fold it along that seam with the seam as the folded edge. The next step is to determine just how much the skirt needs to be taken in and pinch that amount together. In other words, if the skirt is three inches too big in the waist, then pin the skirt together 1 ½ inches from the fold. Then, simply sew the back together where you have pinned it together. Bring the original back seam to the seam you have just created and match the two seams together. This will then create a pleat with half of the pleat on one side of the original back seam and half on the other side of the original back seam. Pin both ends of this pleat to the waistband. This will create a nice box pleat. If this alteration is temporary you could even use safety pins to do accomplish this technique. Otherwise, tack the two ends of the “pleat” to the band.  With the pleats on the outside, it is a standard box pleat. If you do the same procedure on the inside, it is called an inverted box seam. It is basically the back side of the standard box pleat.

Depending on the look you are trying to create, you could sew the seam down two or three inches and then continue with the steps outlined above. This would give you a nice open pleat. Or, you could sew the seam all the way down the skirt to the hem. In essence, you are just creating a new seam with the excess material hidden inside the skirt. That is definitely not the most aesthetically pleasing way and it really does not create a true “pleat.” It just takes the skirt in a little bit and leaves the excess material inside and available if you want to later reverse the “pleat.”

If you need to take in more material, you could use the same method but make more pleats. You would need to make sure that they are placed equally. It would be important to pin the pleats in place before you sew them down to make sure that the finished product will look right. How big the pleat and where they are placed would be based on what is aesthetically pleasing.

  1. The Second Method – Using Elastic

The second technique that I am going to show you is more permanent. If the skirt has a waistband that is wide enough and you can feed elastic through it, you can clip open the seam. Just find the seam in the waistband and clip those threads in that seam. Pull out enough threads to allow you to feed the elastic into the waistband. Then when you are done, you can just go back and sew over where these stitches were removed.

Now, in the case of the skirt I am going to use for the demonstration, I feel like everything fits the girl very well except for the waistband which was just a little too loose. As a result, the skirt would slide down when she danced. In that case, you do not want to put a pleat in the back. A pleat would only be warranted if the skirt is extra, extra large in the waist. So, we are going to insert the elastic into the waistband and feed it all the way through. Hold onto the elastic at the back end and pull the other end through the waistband. Some prefer to use a safety pin to attach the back end of the elastic to the skirt so that you do not have hold the back end of the elastic. This will leave you with both hands free to work the elastic through the waistband.

It is a lot easier to feed the elastic through the waistband if the end you are feeding has a safety pin or something else attached to it that allows you to feed the elastic through the waistband. There are actually tools in the notions department of your local fabric store that are specifically for that purpose. Although that is the easiest way to feed the elastic through the waistband, it is not worth purchasing them for one project. They also work really well when feeding cords through a waistband, a hood or similar garment. Another trick you can use if your elastic is extra long is to tie a knot in the end of the elastic. That gives you something that is really easy to grip and push it and the end of the elastic through the waistband much like you would a pin attached to the end of the elastic. Whatever method you, use your thumb to keep pushing the elastic through the waistband. I like to go a little bit at a time and then pull the elastic through in small doses. That way it does not get all caught up on itself.

Now, something really important to remember is that if you are not very careful the elastic can twist. So, make sure that the elastic stays flat as you are feeding it through and before you sew the ends of the elastic together, go along the waistband and make sure the elastic is flat and has not twisted. Otherwise, you could end up with some big lumps in the waistband.

Now, this method only works if you can actually feed the elastic through the waistband and there are no obstructions like seam that will keep you from feeding the elastic. You want to be careful that you do not pull the end of the elastic into the waistband or you will either have to try to feed the loose end back in the other direction or start all over. This is another reason why it is helpful to pin the back end of the elastic to the skirt.

Once you have fed the elastic all the way through, untie the knot or remove the pin or whatever, overlap the ends of the elastic and pin the ends of the elastic together.

Now, before I sew I want to go ahead and pull this making sure that it is laying flat inside all the way around it so. Now, when you go ahead and sew the elastic together you want to really make sure that the connection is strong. So, I am going to go back and forth zigzagging across the overlapped elastic. Now, see how it is sewn really well there. If there is any piece of elastic that pops up like the corner, make sure you clip it. You do not want to know when it lays funny on the inside there.  Additionally, before you sew the elastic together go ahead and pull the waistband taut and make sure everything is indeed laying flat.

Now, what you are going to want to do is go back to where you opened up the waistband and either hand stitch the waistband closed or you can go and cross the ends of the opening on top of each other and pin it shut. If you overlap the ends, sew over the overlap and through the elastic. If you do it this way, you are sewing the elastic into it so the elastic does not roll when the girl puts it on. You can then either use a straight stitch to sew the waistband and the elastic together. If you prefer, you can use a zigzag stitch. For the purposes of this demonstration, I am using white thread so you can easily see the stitches. However, you will want to use thread that matches the fabric.

There you go. This is how to make a skirt just a little bit smaller so that it fits if it is just a little too big.

If you enjoyed this demonstration, make sure to look at our other demonstration or the Bdancewear videos on YouTube. You can subscribe to our channel so that you do not miss any of the amazing videos that we will have coming out. If you want to get our free complete dance costume DIY guide, go to guide. Lastly if you have any questions or ideas for future videos or demonstrations, please contact us through our YouTube channel or on our website –

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