Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Help! Incredible Shrinking Woman!

gabbeh | Posted in Fitting on


I know that to many, this isn’t a problem, but it is to me.  I’m losing weight and dress sizes at an alarming rate.  Besides the medical aspect (I’ve spent many a day at the doctor’s…boring!) the financial part is killing me. 

No clothes fit me (last year I bought what I thought would be my smallest size ever – 8 reg.)!  This year I’m down to a size 4 petite…My first “P” qualification!  (In my adulthood, I’ve been a fluctuating 12 to 14 regular, sometimes creeping up to a 16).

To make a long story short…I have a beautiful dress (Bali batik, button all the way down the front, mandarin collar, shapely, size “M”)…I’m sure that the style has a name, but I call it my “beautiful Japanese dress”. 

I have to have a wonderful dress for my daughters’ art opening (2 daughters in the same show).  This was the dress I’d  planned to wear but I’m “swimming” in it!  The lines are so form-fitting that I hoped it would be an “easy” alteration, but I’m afraid of destroying it.  (Humor me…it wasn’t  a “crazy-expensive” dress, but it holds lots of sentimental value…and it’s my ONLY summer dress). 

It looked like I could pin it in a couple of inches on either side…stitch  it up, and then cut off  the excess.  However, I’ve stitched it where I think the side-seams should go and I can’t tell the fit because of all the excess fabric at the “taking-in” point.  Should I just take  the chance of cutting?..or is there a “dressmaker’s rule-of-thumb” that I’m unaware of? 

As you can probably tell, I’ve never officially learned to sew.  It’s a seat-of-the-pants thing  with me – but I’m willing to learn.


Judith (gabbeh)





  1. lin327 | | #1

    Hi!  I lost close to 80 pounds so I know how frustrating it can be!  Is your dress sleeveless?  If it is carefully un pick the side seam, And put the dress on right side out. (Never inside out, no matter what you've heard elsewhere) Carefully pin the excess out on the sides. If there's more than four inches of excess fabric in the new seam then you will need to add darts in the front and back.  It's not that scary.  Re-pin the side seam so the excess seam allowance is no more than two inches.  Then pinch in a dart.  Start directly under the bust point at the waist, and taper the dart up to the bust ending below the bust point  by about two inches.  pinch down from the waist and end the dart about five inches down, seven inches if you're tall.  do the same at the back, only don't pinch in more than an inch and a half and make the darts shorter.   If the dress looks okay and feels comfortable, no binding or cutting in; then mark the seams, turn inside out and baste together. Turn right side out and try on again.  If it still looks and feels okay trim the excess seam allowance leaving a three-quarter-inch just-in-case allowance and stitch it together. 

         If the dress has sleeves you can still do the alteration, just sew the side seam so it tapers to nothing in the sleeve.

        The only hard and fast rules I learned for alterations were:  Always make alterations while wearing garments right side out, and try to divide the excess between as many seams and darts as possible!  I hope that helps, and doesn't sound too scary! 

    1. gabbeh | | #2

      I really appreciate your reply...and no, it wasn't scary once I got to the part about the sleeves.  I was afraid that you'd tell me that with sleeves it would be impossible!   (Lucky that I just ran across a "Threads" article on darts.)  I'll give it a try and get back to you on my success or lack of it.   Thanks so much.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All