Shorten & hem a vintage dress…

I recently brought this dress from my local vintage store for £3.00, I thought it would be perfect in the summer and couldn’t pass it up! The only problem was the length, I chose to shorten it and show you how to do so in the process (well hopefully). Heres my very first step by step guild to shortening and hemming a dress, I hope you like it and find it useful.

What you will need –

Sewing machine.

Scissors, thread, measuring tape, pins, un-picker (incase you need it),

Firstly try the dress on and pin in place to the desired length, then lay the dress down flat and measure to the pin. Using the measurement repeat at least three times across the width of the dress and pin to desired length each time, don’t for get to add 1-2 cm’s to the length for hemming.

Pin front and back of dress together along the original hem line, this will help while cutting.

Cut along pin line of desired length. Once cut measure from the waist to the hem across the dress to make sure the middle and sides are all cut to the same length.

Thread up bobbin and sewing machine.

If you have an overlocker great, sadly I don’t so I set my machine a setting which is most like an over locker. You can also use a zig zag setting.

Using the overlocker like stitch, sew the raw cut edge all the way around the bottom of the dress. This will stop the fabric from fraying.

Fold over stitched edge and measure 1-2 cm’s (depending which amount you left for hemming). Pin all the way around the dress and keep measuring the hem to check its the same width all the way around.

Finally using a straight line stitch, sew the folded/pinned area, keeping as close lose edge and taking out the pins as you get close to them.

The all you have left to do is try it on and check your happy with the length and how it looks!

Hope you found this little tutorial helpful. Let me know what you think.


  1. January 20, 2011 / 9:50 pm

    This is brilliant, it’s sure to help virgin seamstresses out.
    The dress is very pretty (only £3? bargain!) and I love your picture wall. I wish I had the patience to find and frame so many pictures.

    Cait x

  2. January 21, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    I love you wall with all the picture frames 🙂

  3. January 21, 2011 / 6:51 pm

    Ooh, this is so interesting – I am awful at sewing but I really want to be able to do adjustments like this to my clothes. I think I’ve even got my grandma’s own sewing machine in my loft somewhere – a proper old turn the handle one!

    The dress looks gorgeous now!

  4. January 21, 2011 / 10:16 pm

    Great job on the alteration! The dress looks lovely both before and after – a great find. I found a Chanel bag in a charity shop when I was 16 but have had NO luck at all since – I must have used it all up at once!


  5. January 23, 2011 / 9:07 pm

    oh wow, the dress looks so awesome afterwards! So many vintage dresses are longer in length and not many people can pull them off, so altering them is such a great idea x

  6. January 25, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    Just came across your blog. And yes this is so helpful. I have this dress that’s too long, didn’t want to resell it but I might try this trick. Thanx!

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