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Dress Alterations – Increasing Length

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I have an issue with buying clothing.

I’m 5’11″…….so I often find things at the store that are really adorable, but are just a bit too short.  (And I know some of you who are shorter have the opposite problem.  Must be just as annoying!)
So altering them is my solution.
Here is a really quick and easy alteration to this fun little kelly green dress (that I found for like $12 at Ross.  How could I just walk past it?)…..that was just a tad too short for my liking.
Oh, and I added a bit of brown to the bust as well. 
It plunged a bit too low for me.

(*For the little panel: I folded a piece of brown material in half, ironed it flat, then zig-zagged around the 3 edges…..leaving the folded edge alone.  Then I just tacked that panel to the bust area, making little hand-stitching loops to attach the brown panel to the inside of the dress.  I was very careful to only sew through the inside layers of the dress, so that you couldn’t see the hand-stitching from the front.  I should have taken pictures of that……but I only tacked it in about 4 spots, to help keep the panel in place.)

I added the ruffle by cutting a strip of fabric that was twice the length as the dimension of the bottom opening of the dress. Then I hemmed the bottom by folding under a 1/4 inch, another 1/4 inch, then sewing in place.  Then I zig-zag stitched the top raw edge of the strip, then gathered it until if fit evenly around the bottom of the dress.  I pinned it in place then made to seams (in green below) to attach the ruffle to the dress.  (Need help with gathering?  Click here.)
I finished with a dress that was just the length I wanted.

So keep that in mind as you’re in the stores.  If an article of clothing calls your name and then actually fits great, except for this or that…….examine it for a minute and decide if it’s easily adjustable or not.  (But don’t make things more difficult or more expensive for yourself.)
Now you don’t have to pass up that great deal.
Get it.
Adjust it.
And love it.
(Oh, and that little mannequin form?  I got it at a clothing store in the mall that went out of business.  Keep your eye out for one.  Makes a great place to place your projects, while trying to adjust and alter them…)
Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Samantha says:

    oh my gosh that is TOOOOOO CUTE!!!!!! Love how you incorporated the brown twice.

  2. hilary says:

    Una verdadera CAGADA…

  3. Kirsten Houseknecht says:

    just as a note… another way to EASILY add length is to cut the dress apart about 4 inches (or so) above the hem… and insert a colored band (gathered or not) there.
    if it has sleeves add a colored band partway down the sleeve also…
    and of course you can add neck line trims and etc.
    that way the hem IS the original garment! it makes it very much less likely for anyone to ever guess you altered it…

  4. Krista says:

    I am Robin’s old roommate, and I love your blog. You are so creative and I am dying to try this lengthening trick. We tall people have got to get a few tricks to keep stylish and modest! Good to see you.–Krista (Wilson) Nielsen

  5. jennifer says:

    I am going to try this in reverse. I want a maxi dress but can’t find one long enough for my 5’11 frame. I have always thought about adding length but wasn’t sure how. This would work great to add a ruffle to the bottom to get me to floor length.

  6. Joyce @ Quilted Nest says:

    Too cute! I’m pinning this to my modesty board on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Karli says:

    I bought this same dress at Ross (only in red) a couple years ago. I don't mind the length, unless I'm pregnant. Then it is too short. But either way, I think this is a FANTASTIC idea! And I have the same problem with the opening at the neck. It's too big. I'm totally doing both additions to mine! Thanks so much!

  8. carol says:

    I used to read your blog faithfully, but have let it pile up in my reader (a big move coming up, hubby job change = BUSY). But I got a dress at target that is so so so so cute, and just a tad too short. I thought of adding something to it and KNEW that your blog would help me, and voila! the exact tutorial i need. you are the best! thank you!

  9. Alison says:

    I bought a dress at Ross that was like $12 too! And I later realized that it's a little too short for my comfort and I have to pin it shut so I don't show cleavage. This is awesome! I'm so excited now. I really love the dress and now I can fix it! woohoo! I would have never thought of that on my own. And best part- it's quite similar to your so I'm confident it will look good! :)

  10. Amy says:

    I saw this post a while back and wanted to do the same thing when I saw a couple of dresses I knew would be to short – especially since they were maternity and only would get shorter. I used the general idea to add to my dresses that I posted about here
    Thanks for the inspiration. I love reading your blog and get so much out of it.

  11. Julie Avery says:

    I'm 5'11'' too…alerting is totally a must! cute dress!

  12. Esther says:

    That is adorable. Thanks for the tip.

  13. Nate and Kim says:

    hey your old neighbor from Rexburg Kim Evans here. What a cute dress and alteration. I get so frusterated with everything being too short these days. I wish wish wish that I had that dress, it is so darling. What a find and what a great alteration.

  14. The Barton Family says:

    I totally have the same problem…thank you thank you thank you for making it look sooo easy- that will be my next summer project I conquer !!

  15. jennifer says:

    so cute! love it. I don't know what Ross is…and I am 5'10" so I have this problem a lot with stuff being too short!

  16. Angie says:

    That is quite possibly the cutest dress ever. I love it! You do such great work! I'm 5'9", and my hubby is 6'5"…it is so hard to find clothes long enough! I can't imagine how its going to be when my kids are tall teenagers! Now if I can get the confidence to alter our clothes!

  17. Jared & Tristan says:

    I LOVE it!! I want it!! You did a great job, and I bet you look fantastic in it!

  18. Monalekas says:

    q hermoso vestido

  19. Rafahi Family says:

    I am a little relieved that smeone else has the same problem as me! (But sorry too, because it is just NO fun sometimes.)
    Thanks for posting this–and reminding me that I do not have to settle for an off the rack look. I can adjust something, very easily and make it work. My 12 yr old daughter is above my shoulders, and she is coming into the same problem now too. It is nice that I can show her how to get around some of these things. (Especially when it comes to wearing a nice modest shirt or dress to church.)

  20. Tasha says:

    I just LOVE that dress! My Ross NEVER has anything that cute! You totally lucked out. I love how you made it longer, I'm only 5'6" but I like my dresses to go below the knee and most of the ones I can find hit right above. Now I can keep this in mind while I'm dress shopping, Thanks a ton!

  21. saffiertje says:

    I love the ruffles round the neck!!!! SO AWESOME! Great alterig!

  22. Amy @ Creativity Finder says:

    I love that dress and your alterations! I'm going to have to try adding that little panel to a few of my dresses. Thanks!

  23. EvaBabeDesigns says:

    Beautifully done Dana! You tied in the colors so nicely! I have the same problem since I'm 6' tall! My toddler is so long waisted I've had to add ribbons and ruffles to all her tops. They end up being super-cute and people wonder where I bought them!

  24. Sisters of Grace says:

    Wow, that is so cute and I love the brown ruffle at the bottom!

  25. JOYfilled Family says:

    perfect tip to help make modest clothes for my 15 y/o daughter.
    THANKS! – lena

  26. D-lyn says:

    I love this dress! how wonderful that you added such charm and length!

  27. Rileigh says:

    Love this! I want one in every color!

  28. Ashley says:

    Antilia Femme is the brand. Good luck to those searching for one. And Natalie….if I see one in a small, I'll grab it for you!! :) Cracks me right up!

    And if it helps any, I bought it about 6 weeks ago….so there really could still be some out there floating around. You never know with Ross!

  29. SewLindAnn says:

    I've got to say that the dress looks so much more amazing after you altered it! Great work.

  30. Ashley says:

    I do love it! Now I think I won't pass those cute dresses all sad because I am freakishly tall.

  31. Goodwin Family says:

    Adorable! I'm 5'10" so I can so relate! So many cute, cheap desses at Ross that are just a bit too short for me! I'll be buying them next time and adding some cute ruffles!

  32. The Bridges says:

    Oh man! I have to get to a Ross to see if they have another. What is the brand? i LOVE the alteration you made. It's so adorable.

  33. Natalie Putnam says:

    I just went to Ross to see if they had it and they didn't :(.. If anyone finds one in a small I would pay for it and pay for shipping. Just let me know. I would love it in green or gray. My email is natalie at stringham dot me

    Thanks :)

  34. tracyp says:

    Seriously who finds stuff like that at Ross?! Very cute!

  35. Amie Jo says:

    I just did this exact alteration for my SIL for a wedding! I love that I can sew! I am also 5'11" and I always remind my friends that if they find a dress that is not quite right, I can fix it. thanks for sharing this idea.

  36. Aly says:

    I'm 5' 11" too and I do the same thing all the time! I also have a couple of meant-to-show slips that I layer under certain dresses. What a cute dress you found.

  37. Lynette @ My Craft Discovery says:

    This is so cute! I love it! My dresses are usually too long, but some of the "short" dresses are a little too short…good to keep this in mind! Love how you made the brown fit in the top and the bottom to make it coordinate!

  38. Becky says:

    Great idea! I'm not tall (at all) but sometimes dresses are still too short. My issue was tying in the contrast fabric in more than one spot. You are a genius!

  39. erin says:

    okay, so i'm just under 6' also…i never even try on dresses like that though cause it always seems like that empire waist wants to sit like an inch too high…

    lucky score for you though!…very clever lengthen!

  40. Adam and Sarah says:

    You are the awesomest! No more not getting things because they are too short or too low cut! Although I'd prefer if you could come live with me and just take care of it for me… I never know what looks good without someone telling me! lol :)

  41. Real Life Reslers says:

    um…..what's Ross?
    I LOVE what you did with the dress! I'm short (5'2") but I still might do this to one of my dresses!

  42. Angie says:

    Love that you're 5'11"…I am too! lol Thanks for the helpful suggestions for lengthening a dress…much needed with today's styles unfortunately.

  43. Jenn @ WestSacHoney says:

    Nice job! I have that dress too and got it from Ross!

  44. Rachel says:

    I'm so happy for this post. I'm 6ft. and all legs. I have never thought of this. Why? I don't know. I'm so excited to go out shopping with new eyes! Thanks for the great idea & your dress turned out fabulous!

  45. Amanda Dale says:

    I am tall too and have this problem all of the time! Some dresses are so cute, but are cute for a 15 year old!
    Thanks for the idea and directions!

  46. Natalie Putnam says:

    This is perfect. I think I need that dress. What is the brand?

  47. Rich Angie says:

    GREAT tip! I'm 6' and always have that problem. Loved your tute on the knit skirt too.

  48. Devry and Chelsey Hymas says:

    I love it! I am also 5'11 and have the exact same problem with dresses (and skirts). Thanks for a great solution that, I think, makes the dress look even better!

  49. Steph says:

    Love what you did with the dress and great mannequin find! I also don't like a too-plunging neckline so I'll keep that in mind before I pass something up.

  50. Practically Spent says:

    Darling dress. Glad you didn't let that one get by. I have to do similar things with tops. Darn long torso!

  51. Heather says:

    I have this dress in grey…too funny! I was thinking of cutting a section out of the underskirt and adding some length that way. It's too cute of a dress to allow a length issue to keep it on the hanger!

  52. Ashley says:

    Kimberly and Familia Fowler – I added how I placed that little brown panel in the dress……go check out the post. Sorry about that!

  53. Emily says:

    Love it! I never find anything good at Ross. Anyway, even though I'm short (5'4''), I might have to do this to a "mini" skirt. :) Thanks for sharing!v

  54. Kami @ Everyday Heaven says:

    I got the same dress at Ross in a chocolate brown, I love it!

  55. Danny & Crystal says:

    Awesome job Ashely! I love that dress! I just gave up on trying on dresses because they're always too short & I'm not even as tall as you! What a good idea! I love shopping at Ross–so sad we don't have one here :(

  56. Familia Fowler says:

    I bought the same dress! How do you add the fabric to the bust and still have it "give" enough to get on and off? That is a common prob for me…

  57. Kimberly says:

    Wow, such a cute dress! Great idea, thanks!! So any tips on how you put in pieces to fix the "deep plunge" on top? That seems to be my biggest problem lately and I'm always wonder if I can add a piece and still make it look good, and not just as an add it.

  58. Scrappy Gifts says:

    Fab dress – lucky find! Great tip – maybe I won't pass on dresses/skirts that are too short for me in the future.

  59. Andrea says:

    That dress is adorable! that's a great price for such a dress! I usually have to hem everything because they are too long =) I've yet to add length!

    Andrea @

  60. Cindy says:

    Some layers of brown ribbon an dric rac would be cute at the bottom of the dress too! Great idea.

  61. Nike@TheDirtyHalfDozen says:

    Once again … amazing! I love your projects and find lots of inspiration to get a little bit more life out of the clothes for me and my dirty half dozen. Thanks too for the Silhouette projects … AWESOME! I actually have a silhouette, but hadn't even thought of using the heat transfer stuff. So thank you — you just saved a handful of stained t-shirts and will help me use up some of my ever-growing "knit" collection that I'll use "someday."

  62. Jenny says:

    You found that at ROSS??? Wow! I never see anything that cute there. Maybe I need to go by there tonight and see if we have one too. It is one of the cutest things I have ever seen and your alterations make the dress!

  63. 1 Funky Woman says:

    Ah, so adorable! I love the color!

  64. Tiff says:

    Thanks for the advice! I'm 5'10" and long waisted, so I never feel like I can buy a dress…maybe with this idea I can :)

  65. Crafty Batches says:

    SO CUTE! ~Sam

  66. Jenglamgirl says:

    ADORE WHAT YOU DID! ADORE!!!! ADORE THE DRESS TOO! I love that length, and color. I have thought of this idea, but no sewing machine, nor do I sew… BOO! ;) jENN~

  67. Shannon says:

    That is gorgeous. I WANT IT. BAD. Way to go!

  68. A. says:

    That is SO ingenious… now why didn't I think of that before? :)

  69. kladle says:

    I LOVE that dress! I think I need to take a trip to Ross! Thanks for this post. Just bought my daughter a dress for a wedding that is too short that I need to alter. I think this will be a great solution!

    Also, I just had one of your good friends over for dinner last night…..Stefanie. She mentioned your website and I immediately was like, yup, that's one of the ones I stock and get emails from. Small world! Anyway, she talks very highly of you. Wish you were close so I could learn in person from you! :)

  70. Megan says:

    That is an amazing dress! This is a great tip, too. I'm 6' and am constantly struggling to find things that aren't too short. When I was younger I used to buy long dresses that were too short and shorten them to knee length. Now I just need to work on my "shopping with a toddler" skills. Thanks again!

  71. Jenni says:

    that is beautiful! great job!

  72. Maggie says:

    Adorable – and I hear you… I'm 5'10" and hate trying to find clothes that fit and flatter.

    I'll have to keep your suggestion in mind.

  73. EmileeHope says:

    Cute! Great job…and don't you just LOVE Ross!?!?!

  74. Ashley says:

    Lauren – At Ross. For like $12. Great deal, huh? :)

  75. Lauren says:

    OH MY GOSH! I love this dress! Where oh where did you find it?!
    I love it with all the alterations!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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