RESIZING AN OVERSIZED BACK-ZIPPERED DRESS (TUTORIAL)

A few weeks ago I posted about resizing an oversized side-zippered dress, and promised a tutorial on a back-zippered dress. So today is the day, friends. 
I found this dress at Kohl’s a few months ago, and with the holidays approaching, I just had to have it. The only problem was that it was about 5 inches too short. So I bought it about 6 sizes bigger than my normal size (which added enough length at the hem) and then altered it to fit with just a few easy steps. 
Also, these pictures are all taken at different times of the day so the shades of red all look a bit different, but it’s really a bright cherry red. The perfect Little Red Dress (also, I wrote on Babble about 5 ways to wear it!)
Keep scrolling to see an easy step by step tutorial to take any back zippered dress in and make it fit like a glove!
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dress: kohls (similar (& 10% cash back right now when you buy through ShopAtHome.com! — if you’re confused, I wrote about using Shop At Home here)
coat: c/o sheinside
heels: c/o sole society
clutch: c/o hello fab
Click through for the tutorial!

Materials:
  • oversized dress
  • seam ripper
  • matching thread
Step 1. Using a seam ripper, separate the bodice from the skirt at the waist, as seen below. The opening you have to create will vary, depending on how much you need to take the dress in. (I had to take in about 6 inches on each side, so my opening was about 7 inches). 
Step 2. Try on your dress, inside out, and determine how much you need to take in on the sides. Pin accordingly, and then with right sides together, sew from armpit to waist on each side, taking in the bodice. Trim the extra fabric and zigzag or serge the raw edge. 

Your dress should now look like this:

Step 3. Now let’s take in the sides of the skirt. With right sides together, pin the skirt from waist to hem, but leaving about 4″ of width (this extra fabric will be gathered to match the rest of the skirt — if your skirt doesn’t have gathering, skip this part), and then sew with a straight stitch. Trim the seam allowance and zigzag or serge the raw edge.

Step 4. With the remaining 4″-ish inches you left untrimmed, gather it up and pin in place (or use a basting stitch and pull to gather). Tuck the bodice inside the skirt so the right sides are together, and then sew the bodice back to the skirt, sewing over the gathers with a straight stitch.

Step 5. If your sleeves are too big, use a seam ripper and remove as much of the sleeve as needed (my sleeve was a half sleeve, so it wasn’t attached all way under the armpit. So I unpicked only the back half of the sleeve, as seen below. Then carefully tuck the sleeve farther into the armhole until the sleeve is your desired size. 

You can see the extra bit of sleeve sticking out of the armhole below. Sew the armhole back up, and then trim the extra sleeve off, zigzagging or serging the raw edge.*

*For full sleeves, remove the entire sleeve before resizing the bodice. Then, resize the sleeve how you’d like, resize the bodice with the instructions above (making sure to make the armhole smaller in the process), and then re-attach the sleeve. 
Happy Refashioning!

34 Comments

  1. Tracy Miller says:

    Great, great, tutorial. I can do this! I have a few dress that I can apply this to.

    Tracy@Its Mostly About Fashion

  2. Love this! I need to do this to a couple of dresses J Crew dresses that are about 4 sizes too large that I found at a thrift shop. Unfortunately they have side pockets… but I am up for a challenge.

  3. Stephanie X says:

    Such a pretty dress 🙂
    xx Stephanie (www.stephaniesstyleblog.com)

  4. Landen says:

    Looking fabulous! I am loving the coat!

  5. Mindy says:

    On the 4" around the waist left for gathering is that 4" each side or 4" total(ie. 2" per side)?

  6. 4" total. However, that measurement will vary depending on the dress, I think. 4" was a good amount of fabric for me to create a gathering that matched the rest of the gathering on the skirt. Hope that makes sense and helps!

  7. Emilie says:

    holly molly, that is really impressive !

  8. Nicole says:

    Can I ask what size you got in the coat? I am in love it and definitely want to purchase, but I can't seem to find any sizing information on it. Any guidance on how you think it fits??
    Great tutorial, as always!

  9. Thank you for your tutorial. However I am more curious about the coat, I saw it last night on sheinside but I am always wary of buying from a place so far away which costs more to return or exchange a product. What is the quality like? Thank you!

  10. That dress looks so amazing on you – the color is perfect!

    xoxo,
    Laura
    http://lauraisthriftingthroughlife.blogspot.com/

  11. Taly says:

    Great tutorial. I have an almost new dress that I bought in spring, but lost a lot of weight since then. Mine is not cut in the waist, so that will be one step less. It's a stretch woven, so I will probably undo the hem a bit and handstitch it ones I take the sides in. My only problem is that the shoulders are too wide, so I might have to take my half-sleeves completely off and reset them. I see you dindn't have that problem with a dress 6 sizes too big? Or did you move your sleeves and I missed that part?

    • Mine ended up being okay so I didn't have to take in the shoulders, but you certainly can! Just unpick the sleeves completely, cut the armhole wider at the shoulder to make the shoulder seam shorter, and then sew your sleeves back on. Hope that helps!

  12. FAB looking re-purposed dress! Love the bright color design & as you fixed it to fit you PERFECTLY–Bravo! Your tutorial will certainly help many women to "re-size" an over-sized dress they purchased at a thrift shop. Sarah Helene, Minneapolis

  13. Esmée says:

    This tutorial is amazing merrick!

  14. ElPesoNuestro says:

    This can only work if the shoulders fit you almost perfectly, so the top doesn´t have to adjusted in that area. The dress looks really nice at the end.

  15. I commented before, but I love this tutorial. It’s helped me resize many a dress.

  16. Emily says:

    How can I resize my sleeves without losing too much length?

    • Merrick says:

      You need to take out the sleeves, resize the sides of the dress, resize the sleeves, and then sew them back together. Then you won’t lose any length 🙂

  17. Carla Dee says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. If my dress doesn’t have gathering at the waist, do I skip making the opening at the waistline completely, or do I still make the opening but omit the gathering step? For some reason I can’t wrap my brain around that. Thank you!

  18. Nina says:

    Hello! Thanks for the great post!
    My dress has a zipper on the side that goes up to about an inch below the armpit–help!
    How can I re-size my dress?

    Thanks so much!

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