How to Do Alterations on a Bridesmaid Dress

Bridesmaid dresses need to fit as well as the bride’s dress. While a wedding is definitely the big day for the bride, the bridesmaids also have an important responsibility. And despite the stereotype about the bridesmaid dress, there is no reason why the bridesmaid should not look her absolute best in the dress that has been selected for her.

Lots of occasions may arise in which you might require to alter a bridesmaid dress. Perhaps the dress is a bit too long or short. Oftentimes, bridesmaid dresses are purchased well before the wedding date. During the time between the purchase of the bridesmaid dress and the wedding date, the bridesmaid could have either gained or lost weight, meaning that her bridesmaid dress will no longer fit her. In lieu of purchasing a whole new dress, you can just alter the dress you already have. Altering a bridesmaid dress can be very similar to altering any other type of formal gown.

With just a bit of sewing skill, the process to alter a bridesmaid dress yourself isn’t that hard.

Things You’ll Need:

Seam ripper



Measuring tape


Fabric pen

Sewing machine or needles (with matched thread)

How You Can Do:

Have the wearer try on the dress. Take note of what needs to be taken in and where. It helps if the dress is tried on as it will be worn and then tried on inside out. This will allow you to see the seams and where the dress can be altered.

Fit the dress to the wearer by pulling gently on the fabric to see where it can be taken in. A dress should fit comfortably but not too loosely, so the wearer should stand normally as she would while wearing it. As you check for the fitting, also check to make sure that the alterations will be even on both sides of the dress. The dress should be centered correctly with all seams lining up in the right place on the body.

Mark the alterations with pins. Once you are comfortable with the location of the pins, use the fabric pen to mark where they were. The marks should be small but still noticeable, and they should be as exact as possible. With a fabric pen, you will avoid having to pull pins out as you run the dress through the sewing machine. It also will prevent you from accidentally sewing over a pin, which can break a needle and slow you down considerably.

Use the seam ripper to pull the seams from the dress. Pull very gently to avoid damaging the fabric. Bridesmaid gowns are often constructed in delicate fabrics, such as satin, so be sure that you are ripping only the seams.

Place the new seams together and sew them, using the sewing machine or by hand. Once you have sewn the new seams—and before you trim any fabric—try the dress on the wearer to make sure it fits correctly. Check it from all angles to make sure the seams lines up correctly.

Trim the leftover fabric with the scissors, and then iron down the new seams. Refit the dress once more to see the finished product.

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