Today’s tutorial is going to teach you how to add an extra panel of fabric to the back of a jumper skirt or dress that has a pleated waist. I am NOT a professional seamstress, and I highly recommend using one if you are uncomfortable doing this. I also do not recommend undoing more than two pleats (which will usually add about two inches to the waist) because the back of your dress will look very flat.
If you are more than an inch and a half larger than the recommended measurements of your dress, you are going to need to attempt a different alteration. Letting out a few pleats should add about an inch to two inches without ruining the silhouette – but if you need more space for ease, consider adding a bustle, a front panel, or reconstructing the bust instead (I will talk about these things later.)
Also, about halfway through this tutorial, I decided not to use shirring in my dress. However, I know that some of you were looking forward to that, so I decided to make a mock shirring panel quickly, for you to see in reference. I use a plain panel in the last few photos, so if you are using one with shirring, don’t feel confused. You’re going to do the exact same thing.
Finally, if you don’t know how to sew, learn before attempting this. Make sure that you have a quiet place to sew, and don’t rush yourself. Don’t take shortcuts, and make sure to pin and iron every seam before stitching. The extra work will be worth it, and your garment will thank you for your trouble.
You are going to need the following things, so if you don’t have them, it’s time to go shopping!
1. A dress to alter
2. Matching fabric for the shirring panel (half a yard should be more than enough. I tend to buy extra, in case I make mistakes, or I want to add bows.
3. Some lace that has loops around the edges, that is large enough to thread ribbon through.
4. Matching Fabric.
5. Ribbon of your choice.
8. A seam ripper (I use an artists knife.)
9. A bobbin
10.A sewing Machine
Now that you have these things, you’re ready to start!
Part one: Unpleating the Skirt
First, place two pins on the pleat that you want to remove. It might seem useless, but do it. This will keep you from opening the waist up too much, and having to resew an entire dress.
Second, flip the dress inside out (make sure you can see where the two pins are) and start to very carefully cut away the thread that holds the seam together at the waist. Very gently slid your knife under the threads, and pull. Don’t start hacking away with scissors, and don’t go too quickly. If you cut the fabric, there isn’t much you can do to fix it, so take your time!
The waist should look something like this now:
What you’re going to do next is cut open the back. Again, you’re going to want to go about this very slowly and carefully. If your dress has a lining, or a tag panel, make sure you pin along the line you’ll be cutting.
This will keep the fabric from moving as you cut, and will help you make a smooth, even divide in the fabric. Make sure your scissors are sharp, and do your absolute best to cut a straight line.
Ta Da! you now have an extra few inches of space to play with.
You’ll need to set up your sewing machine now, so if you haven’t take a moment to wind up your bobbin, and thread your needle. After you’ve done this, go ahead and make a seam on the two open edges of the bodice that you just created. Make sure you pin and iron everything so that it lays flat, and even.
Next, you need to add the lace to this area, so go ahead, and pin that onto the edge, and sew it on. Do this slowly and carefully. I didn’t, and now, I am going to have to replace one area of lace on my dress. Take the time to do it correctly now, so you won’t have to start over.
Now, you need to create an extra panel (with shirring, or without.) so take the measurements of the hole you have in your dress (both length and width) and cut out a piece of fabric that is about an inch longer and wider than the whole (So that you have ample space for seam allowances)
Hem it around the edges,and if you are going to use shirring, add in the elastic, making sure to pin it and stretch it as you sew. If you are going to make channels, do this, and thread in your elastic now. I HATE making shirring panels, so I did not make one with channels. If anyone wants to know how to do this, let me know, and I will make a quick tutorial.
Once this has been completed, make two smaller pleats in the open part of the skirt’s waist (to add a little volume.) and try on the dress. Make sure that the waist fits you comfortably, if not, repleat it, and try it on again. When you finally have the fit correct, go ahead and sew in the pleats. If there is a lining, don’t forget to pleat and sew that as well!
Now you need to take the extra panel you made, and attach it to the skirt, and sides of the bodice from the inside. Once you’ve done this, try on the dress, and make sure that it is comfortable. If it isn’t, don’t hesitate to add or reduce the amount of elastic you are using, or to make an entirely new panel that will fit your body better.
Sew this along the sides, and make sure that the lace you added earlier doesn’t get folded back as you sew. I made this mistake because I did not pay attention, and I am going to have to open the dress up again to correct it. ):
Once everything is sewn together, all you need to do add in the ribbon, and you’re ready to go. If you have a serger and want to use it on the skirts seam do this as well, and make sure to cut any dangling threads. :)
I hope that this helps a lot of you out! Please, please remember, that I am not a professional seamstress, and most of this probably isn’t the industry standard. There are better stitches than the ones I know how to use, so if you have the knowledge to apply them, please do so! And, if you want to use a professional, by all means, do that too! To those of you who are interested in using this tutorial however, please do let us all know how your garment turns out.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.