Tutorial: Expanding a Tight Skirt

Ok, I know it’s January.  It’s the get-active-lose-weight-and-fit-back-into-your-clothing time of year.  For those who are hard at it, awesome! Keep going!   I think I’m finally getting into a good balance with healthy eating and a workout routine that will hopefully become a life style for me.   Now, while I understand that getting back into shape is something that comes with time, it doesn’t mean I have to wait that long to fit back into my clothing.

There are many ways to expand tight clothing.  Some have explained how to stretch a garment that has been shrunk over time due to washing by tugging while it is still damp and laying weight onto your garment until it dries.  This helps if all you need is a little bit of stretch but what if you need to increase the size by an extra inch or more.  Here is one way I have expanded a skirt by an extra 2 inches with side panels.  This skirt had no extra wide seams that I could let out.


1.  Measurements:   figure out how much you need to expand to get a comfortable fit.

– Measure around your hips and add ease.  Generally, if I’m working with woven fabric I add about 2 inches to my hip measurement for wiggle room. This will be the final measurement of the skirt.

– Measure the width of your skirt and subtract this from the final measurement.   Remember you will be increasing on both side seams of the skirt so divide this by 2 and add seam allowance. The result will be the width of the 2 panels that will be sewn onto the skirt.

(Final skirt measurement – Current skirt measurement) /2  + seam allowance =   panel width

– Measure the skirt length from waistband to hem line, add seam allowance and hem length. This will be the panel length.

2.  Pick the fabric to use for the panels

Decide what kind of fabric to use for the side panels.  It is best to use a fabric that is of same weight and behaves in the same manner as the skirt. i.e. if your skirt is made with woven fabric, use woven fabric; If it’s made with knit stretchy fabric, then use knit stretchy fabric.   However, with a bit of creativity, mixed textures and weights can also work well for an added embellishment.

For my skirt I’m using a lace band sewn over a woven strip of cotton fabric.


3.  Unpick seams

Start by unpicking the waistband just before the side seam (front of skirt) and continue all around the back of the skirt and stop just past the side seam on the other side. No need to remove the entire waistband.      Unpick both side seams (including a little bit of the hem) carefully not to poke any holes through the fabric. You should now have 2 pieces:  the back of the skirt and the front with the waistband.


4.  Attach panels

Align side panels and stitch to the side seams of the back of skirt.   Then sew the back to the front side seams.  Make sure these side seams are reinforced.


You will now have a skirt tube that is wider in circumference than the waistband.

5.  Widen the length of waistband to match the new size of the skirt

Fold the skirt waistband in half on the center back to the center front. Remove the belt tab if there is one.  Cut the center line of back of waistband.

Skirt-2 copy

You will ned to add the same amount of fabric to the waistband as you did for the skirt   (See step 1:   Final skirt measurement – Current skirt measurement)

For the waistband I wanted my skirt to stay comfortable during weight fluctuations so I used a wide elastic band.

6.  Attach waistband to skirt and reattach the belt tab if necessary.


7.  Adjust the hem and voilà!  Enjoy your new comfy skirt 😊

You can use this same principle to expand tight trousers, dresses and t-shirts.      Here is the before and after pictures



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