There are lots of ways that a dress might need tailoring, so I chose a dress that needed a few alterations: darts, taking in the sides, resizing the shoulders, resizing the sleeves, and hemming. I'll go through each of them step-by-step, so use the ones you need for your particular dress.
1. Using a seam ripper, unpick the original dart and the side seam all the way up to the underarm. Try your dress on and determine the placement of the new dart. It should sit directly on the side of your breast, angling slightly downward toward the side seam, with the point ending about 1 1/2 inches to the side of the center of your breast.
2. Fold the dart in place, marking the placement with a pin. Make sure you mark the beginning of the dart and the end of the dart. Turn the dress inside out and sew the dart according to your markings, making an angled straight stitch from the side seam until you run off the fabric.
1. If the shoulders of your dress are too big, or the sleeves are too big, use a pair of scissors to cut off the sleeves right next to the original seam. Cut down the shoulder to your desired width.
2. Lay the sleeves flat on the ground, inside out. Pin along the short side of the sleeve, then sew with a straight stitch, taking it in as much as you desire.
3. If you've taken in the sleeves, you'll need to make the armhole smaller so the sleeve can fit. Turn the dress inside out and lay it flat on the floor. Pin along the side seams, and then sew from the armpit to the hem with a straight stitch.
Tip: To make sure the dress fits your body properly when you tailor the sides, follow the curves of the original side seam, sewing an inch (or however much you need) away from the original seam.
4. Once the side seams are taken in, insert the newly resized sleeves into the armholes with the right sides together. Match up the sleeve and dress seams at the armpits, and then pin the rest of the sleeve into the armhole. Sew around the armhole with a straight stitch, reattaching the sleeve to the dress.
1. Unpick the original hem on your dress, and then trim it to your desired length. Fold up the edge of the fabric twice and pin it in place. Sew around the entire bottom of the dress with a wide straight stitch.
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