How To Shorten A Skirt From The Waist

Most times you buy a beautiful skirt that is too long for you. You have many options to shorten the skirt. One of the options is shortening by cutting the hem to get the desired length. But, in this case, your skirt has a beautiful pattern that you don’t want to damage by shortening the hem. 

The only option you have to shorten your skirt is to shorten it at the waist. This saves the design or pleats at the bottom of your skirt and makes it shorter by reducing its length from the waist. 

How To Shorten A Skirt From The Waist?

First, wear the skirt inside out. Make sure to wear it with shoes so that you can easily decide the desired length. Fold the skirt at the waist until you get to your desired length. Hold the folds with a safety pin and take off the skirt. Bring your skirt to the sewing machine and make this point your new waist level. Effectively shortening the skirt and preserving the pleats or designs on the bottom side of your skirt.

Method 1. Without Removing The Waistband

Step 1. You opt for this method of shortening your skirt at the waist if the skirt has pleats, a border at the bottom, or when the skirt doesn’t have a standard hem. You cannot shorten a skirt in either of these designs by cutting the hem


If this is your skirt, turn it inside out and wear it. Fold your skirt at the waist, one roll at a time until you get to your desired length. Place a safety on the back and front of the skirt to hold the folds in place then take it off. 

Step 2. If your skirt cannot be folded at the top, you can fold the skirt at the bottom. Take the measurements of the bottom fold to get to the desired length. You will cut out this measurement from the top of your skirt, rather than from the bottom.

If your skirt has an elastic waistband, it is going to be much easier to fold than one with a different type of waistband. Or, you can opt to remove the waistband shorten the skirt, and then fix the waistband back or change to an elastic one. 

Step 3. Bring your skirt to the sewing machine. Lay the rolled fabric and the waistband on separate sides of the sewing machine needle. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch. Then sew all around the folds you made making sure to stay as close as possible to the waistband. 

Step 4. When you finish sewing, cut off the excess fabric. You will have effectively shortened your skirt from the waist. This allows you to retain the design and pleats of your skirt. 

Method 2. Removing The Waistband And Fixing It Back 

removing the waistband and fixing it back

Step 1. This method is most suitable for a skirt with an elastic waistband. It is easy to take off and then fix back an elastic waistband on a skirt. 

First, wear your skirt then fold it from the bottom to determine by how much you need to shorten it to suit your desired length. Make sure to wear it with shoes so that you can determine the most comfortable length for when you wear your skirt.

Or, you can place your skirt on your working surface and measure how much fabric you need to cut off the skirt to achieve your desired length. Measure your desired length from your waist. Measure your skirt and the difference is the amount of fabric you will be cutting out. 

Step 2. Mark the waistband before you start cutting it off. Mark the center back, front, and both sides of the waistband. This will help you in fixing back the elastic band onto your skirt when you have finished cutting the excess fabric. 

fixing back the elastic band

Also, remove any tags on the skirt. You may also have to fix the tags back on the skirt after fixing back the waistband. The tags help to show the front from the back when you are wearing the skirt. 

Step 3. With a seam ripper, rip off the stitches holding the elastic waistband onto the skirt, Do this all around the waistline and set aside the waistband when it comes off. Take care not to cut the elastic waistband as you cut it off the skirt. A slight cut on the elastic may cause it to become loose once it is fixed back on the skirt.

Also, make sure that you don’t wipe out the chalk marks you make on the elastic band. Make sure you keep it properly so that it doesn’t get dirty. 

Step 4. Measure again the fabric you need to cut off from the skirt to attain the desired length. This time, consider an allowance for your elastic waistband. Leave about ½ inch allowance for your elastic waistband.

With sharp scissors, cut along the marked line and around the skirt to cut off the excess fabric. Now you have your skirt in its desired length. Your skirt is now ready to wear. The only thing missing now is for you to fix back the elastic waistband. 

skirt has pleats

Step 5. Pin your elastic waistband on the center back of the skirt, front, and sides. The marks you had made on your elastic waistband will assist you to pin it properly onto the skirt. Then bring your skirt to the sewing machine. Sew the waistband onto the skirt then sew the tags back onto the waistband.

Step 6. You have now finished shortening your skirt from the waist. Wear it and confirm that it fits perfectly at the waist and the shortening process has achieved the desired length. This process may cause your skirt to crumple. So iron it to remove any wrinkles. Then wear your shorter skirt and protect the pattern on the bottom of the skirt.

How To Expand The Waist On A Skirt?

You can alter a skirt in different ways. One uncommon alteration that you can make easily if you want to is to expand the waist of a skirt. You can do this when you have gained weight and your skirts no longer fit as perfectly as they used to. 

Making the waist of your skirt bigger for a better fit is a simple process. You will need some elastic material, a sewing machine, and matching thread.

Measure yourself and your skirt. This helps you to know by how much you will be increasing the size of the skirt. Cut two pieces of elastic material that are as long as the skirt. Add an additional 2cm allowance. The width of the fabrics should be the extra measurement you need for your skirt to fit perfectly.

Then rip open the side seams on your skirt. This gives you /ample room to alter the size of the waist of your skirt. 

Take the two pieces of elastic material and sew them on one piece of the skirt. With the right sides touching, place the other side of the skirt on this side that you have sewn the elastic material onto. Then sew this piece onto the other piece by connecting it to the elastic material. 

When you are back to the skirt, you can wear it to test how it fits. If it’s too large, you can bring it by sewing in the new seam on the elastic fabric. If it fits perfectly, make a fine finish by hemming the top and bottom of the elastic you have added to the skirt. 

How To Reduce The Size Of A Skirt’s Waist?

reduce the size of a skirt’s waist

You may also need to reduce the size of the waist on your skirt if it is too big to fit you perfectly. Like increasing the size of the waist, reducing it is easy. You need a sewing machine and pins. This is a project that can be completed easily by a beginner seamstress. 

Wear your skirt inside out to allow you to see how much space you need to reduce for your skirt to fit perfectly. Gather the excess fabric in your hand. Before you pin it, check that the skirt is comfortable. If it is, pin the excess fabric as the amount of fabric you need to take in to reduce the size of the skirt.  

Take the skirt off gently and bring it to your sewing machine. Then sew a straight stitch along the length of your skirt. You will use the pins you fixed on the excess fabric as your guide to making a new seam for your skirt. This effectively reduces the size of your skirt and makes it easy to wear and to fit you perfectly. 

Sew a ¼ inch seam at the top and bottom of the new seam. This ensures that it easily stays in place and ensures that the skirt maintains its new size.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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