How To Make A Dress Bigger Without Letting It Out

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when the plan is to make a dress bigger? You start by looking at the seams and searching for seam allowance. If a dress has enough seam allowance, you can simply let it out and loosen the dress.

But what if there is no seam allowance on the dress? Well, seam allowance is rare in dresses bought from departmental stores or woolen dresses. Fret not! There are ways to alter a dress without letting it out.

You just need to know the right techniques to get the job done. Here are the different methods to make your dress bigger without reaching out for the seam allowance.

How To Make a Dress Bigger Without Letting It Out?

Dress Bigger Without Letting It Out

There are different ways to make a dress bigger without letting it out. Firstly, you can put a side slit in the dress to add more space around the knees. Secondly, you can put a side zipper in the dress to allow more room in the waist area. Thirdly, a dress can be made a size bigger by using conditioner, baby shampoo, or vinegar. Pull the soaking dress from both sides to stretch it as you need.

1. Putting a Slide Slit in Your Dress

Showing off a bit of your beautiful leg is a good way to add some more room to your dress that is sitting a bit too tight around the knees. Make a larger slit on one side of the dress or go for two small ones with one in each side.

Tools required:

  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper (optional)
  • Sewing needle (medium size)
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board

Instructions to follow:

  1. Get the bottom hem opened because that will help you get the side seams opened. In order to do that, remove the seam stitching sitting right at the bottom hem of your dress using a small pair of scissors or seam ripper. It is not necessary to undo all of it completely. But you will have to undo enough to get to the side seams easily.
  2. Use a seam ripper to remove the side stitches. You can start by unfolding that bottom hem and taking out the stitches from the side seams of the dress. Right now, you can choose to go a bit higher or cut a little below the seam thread based on how much leg you are comfortable with showing.

Before going ahead with the next step, it is important to try your dress on and check whether the seam has been opened to the necessary height.

  1. Fold the edges back and start ironing down the side flaps while keeping the dress inside out. It will help you sew both the sides easily.
  2. Using a smaller stitch, sew those flaps on both sides of the slit till it reaches all the way up to complete the edges – right from the bottom to top of every side of the slit. Remember to tie off the threads after you are done to prevent it from unraveling.

2. Insert a Side Zipper in The Dress

Insert a Side Zipper in The Dress

To start with, it is important to mention that this technique will work only when you want more space in the waist area. Similar to the letting out technique, it only works on the dresses that have a bit of fabric on the side seams.

Tools required:

  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Straight pins or chalk
  • Thread
  • Iron and ironing board

Instructions to follow:

  1. Firstly, try your dress inside out and put chalk marks or safety pins to mark the bottom and top of the side seam where the dress is a little too tight. Also, you can just put that zipper on one side. So, only mark the side seam on one side.
  2. Get the seam ripper for carefully removing the actual stitches between the markings.
  3. Draw the chalk lines in the seam allowance to understand how much farther you want to move the seam. For example, when you draw the mark about half inch out from the earlier stitches, you’ll add about an inch back in your dress’ width.
  4. Set the sewing machine to long-basting stitches and start sewing right along the chalk mark. Finally, press open the temporary seam.
  5. Pin a side of your zipper face-down on only the seam allowance of the temporary seam.
  6. Use a standard stitch length and a zipper foot for sewing a side of your zipper to a side of that seam allowance. You need to sew as close as possible to the metal teeth, but make sure to be careful enough so that the needle doesn’t land on metal.
  7. Next, repeat the process on that other side of your zipper and the other part of the seam allowance.
  8. Gradually take out that basting thread to open up the seam and see the zipper.
  9. Manually sew the seam allowance and zipper on the dress. Then, use small stitches that don’t show at all on the outer part of the fabric.

Finally, you will get an easy-to-use side zipper and a bit of additional fabric in the dress.

3 Make a Dress Bigger By Stretching

Do you know it is easy to resize your dresses and make them bigger without sewing? Stretching a tight dress to make it bigger is possible if it is made up of jersey, Lycra, or cotton material. However, materials like leather are almost impossible to stretch. Of course, you can try but you will be lucky to increase it by even one size.

If your favorite dress came out of that hot dryer with some shrinkage, you can try the following two ways to stretch the material back in place.

Tools required:

  • ¼ cup baby shampoo or hair conditioner
  • Basin or bucket
  • Vinegar
  • Dryer (optional)

Using baby shampoo or hair conditioner

Using baby shampoo or hair conditioner

Instructions to follow:

You can use this technique for extending the cotton dress by nearly a size.

  1. Rewash your dress. Then, take the wet dress in both your hands.
  2. Now, pull the dress outward to stretch the material as much as possible without putting a tear in it.
  3. In case of cotton, rayon, or nylon dresses, soak them in hair conditioner for a couple of minutes.
  4. After this, pull and stretch the fabric once more. If you do not have enough conditioner, you can use ¼ cup of baby shampoo.

4. Using vinegar for woolen dresses

Using vinegar for woolen dresses

Instructions to follow:

If you are trying to stretch a sweatshirt or a woolen dress, you can use vinegar rather than hair conditioner. The use of vinegar will naturally soften the fabric and protect against damage.

  1. Now, fill either the bathtub or sink with cold water.
  2. Then, add about one or two tablespoons of vinegar to the cold water. You can mix a bit of conditioner as well if you want.
  3. Get the dress completely submerged in that water for twenty minutes before rinsing with fresh water.
  4. Soak your dress for five more minutes. After this, lay your dress flat and pull each of its sides.
  5. Let the dress air dry overnight after you are done stretching it.

You can also wear the dress while it is still wet if you are comfortable with that. Let the dress dry out to some extent as you are wearing it. The dress will stretch out to fit you perfectly if it is made of cotton, rayon, or nylon. However, you can stretch a dress to increase up to two sizes using this method.

The Bottom Line

 Make A Dress Bigger Without Letting It Out

As you can see, there are different ways to make a dress bigger without letting it out. You can try any of the three methods mentioned above to alter the dress as per your liking.



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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