how to tailor clothing- the quick and easy way!

If you are like me, you probably have a stack of clothes in your closet that you like but refuse to wear because they don't fit just right. And after a few months, you'll probably donate them to Goodwill or give them away to your sister.

The good news is, my friends, you can save so much money by keeping those clothes and altering them yourself!

It's so easy
to alter your clothes!
In my very first "what I wore" post a few weeks ago- I saved my favorite post-partum shirt from the Goodwill pile by altering it with a quick seam to take it in. I had a couple more tailoring projects to do this week, so I wanted to show you here how you can tailor your own clothes too! It's so, so easy! 

And what do you have to lose since you're getting rid of them anyway? :)

I had this yellow shirt from our women's clothes swap back in the fall (the very best way to get "new" clothes! it was free!) and this pair of Hudson jeans I bought from Goodwill that were too big for me. I love Hudson's and they are hard to find, so I decided to risk $7 to see if I could tailor them to fit me. I wanted a bell-bottom style of trousers, so these wide legs were perfect for that.

Now, I'm not a professional seamstress at all. What I'm going to show you is the quick and dirty way of tailoring from a busy momma! I prefer the faster, imperfect style of sewing to the baby's crying and I'm going to pull my hair out trying but this will be a perfectly straight seam if I have to do this 'til I die style. I've nicknamed myself the lazy seamstress. :) Allow yourself that luxury too! 

(So if you are one of those really amazing seamstresses, you now have my permission to point and laugh at your screen. I don't mind at all! :P )

Here's the before (thanks to my 6 year old, Noah!).
Pants and shirt are both too big- mostly too wide, but not too long or short.



First, turn the clothes inside out and put them on. 

Have a pin cushion ready to go, and grab where you want to take in the item.

Pin vertically along the distance of the shirt. 

Carefully remove it. (I've totally gotten stuck a time or two!)

Sew using one of the guides on your machine, following the pins along the shape and length of the shirt. The most important thing is to try to keep the top and bottom lined up while you sew. Do both sides.


Try it on to see if it fits! If it doesn't, pull out the handy seam ripper. If it does, cut off the extra.

And that's it!! 
Shirts are so easy to do, especially sleeveless ones. Don't be afraid to try it! Pick out your least favorite shirt to practice on first. You can do pants and even jeans too. 

Jeans are a bit more complicated, but not difficult to do. Turn them inside out, put them on, and grab and pin vertically along the inside length (the inseam) of your leg where you'd like to take them in. 

Pin one side or both. I wanted to make sure both sides were exactly the same, so I measured and pinned only one side while I was wearing them, and took them off to pin the other side.

Pin along the length of the jeans, making sure you have a visible pathway to sew. Keep in mind what shape you wish your pants to have. You can even turn your old bootcut jeans into the popular skinny ones by tapering your pins to the ankle. Now there's no need to go buy new ones! Love it!


  Line up the jeans at the bottom and measure the distance from inseam to pin, 
and pin the same on the other side.

Go the entire length of the jean.

I took a colored pencil and drew a line on the outside of the pins to use as my sewing guide. I lined up the edge of the machine's foot on the inside of the line.

Start sewing at the top of the seam, in the crotch area, and reverse stitch your first few stitches to reinforce at the top. Sew along the existing seam until you reach where you need to take in. I didn't need to take it in much around the inner thigh area here, just lower in the thigh. 

Keep the seam as straight as possible along your line-guide. Any sudden jaunts off the path will become big funny bumps when you put them on. Also- you want to make sure you keep the bottoms lined up the entire time you sew. Go slowly. (I always make more mistakes when I go too fast!).  Reinforce with a reverse stitch at the bottom.

Try them on and see if they fit. If they do, then do the other leg. Trust me, you don't want to do both sides before you try them on. ;)

If you're happy with the fit on both sides, cut off the extra. Reinforce the crotch area by running another seam on top of the first one. You can reinforce with a second seam the entire length of the leg, if desired. 


Don't worry if it's not entirely perfect. Do what you can if there are big issues, but no one is going to notice your inseam having a tiny bump or wrinkle. Trust me, it's not worth the time to fix it. Sometimes we feel like we have to do it perfectly or not at all, but the reality is that no one will notice little imperfections. You'll save years of your life by letting go of perfectionism! 

And, how many brand-new clothes have you purchased that you noticed weren't perfect later? Right?

Look, so close to done!!

Iron the new seam flat. 

And enjoy your "new" clothes!!

  It's just so cool to have clothing tailored to fit your body, instead of a random sample size! 

What items in your closet can you save by tailoring? :)

Linking up @ Home Stories AtoZ

The Lettered Cottage

16 comments

Tiffany and Co. said...

Great ideas!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

mandyBH said...

Thank you! You'll be surprised at how many options you have when you are tailoring them to your needs! Thrift stores are like gold mines! :)

Tabithat said...

Wow! You look wonderful and 4 kids later. I will have to check out some thrift shops and see if I can find something that fits are can be easily altered. Thanks. I've been looking frumpy after a bunch of weight loss. ( I found you through a link to the chore cards. )

the domestic fringe said...

That's awesome. Now if I could just figure a way to tailor them into a larger size...

-FringeGirl

mandyBH said...

Thank you! :) Have a great Monday!

mandyBH said...

So glad you enjoyed it! :D

mandyBH said...

LOL! Great minds think alike!! :) I've been wanting to do it since that first WIWW post but just now got to it! :)

Abbie (Five days... 5 ways) said...

Ha! I have already have a pile of clothes ready for a Try-it Tuesday post JUST like this! : )

Pam M. said...

Thanks for the great tutorial!

Pam said...

Great job. Your outfit went from frumpy to cute!

Jessica E said...

Thank you for this post!!! I had been wondering about altering clothes, but have yet to try it. After reading this I may be brave enough to try! Thanks!!!!

Christine said...

oh my goodness! totally cute job on those jeans! I think I'm gonna have to try this :) thanks for the inspiration, you have a new follower :)
Bless you <3

Grace said...

How would you fix an overlarge waistband? I lost weight but not much in my legs, and my already small waist got smaller.

martha68 said...

if you want the jeans to have the same kind of seam that jeans usually have (flat fell), doing that is also easy, but different. instead of sewing wrong sides together for the first seam, you sew right sides together. (yes, it will look like you made a mistake. after you sew the seam and know it fits, press the seam with both flaps to one side. cut the lower seam allowance so it is 1/2 as wide as it was. then fold the upper seam allowance over it and tuck the extra seam allowance under the lower flap and iron. top stitch with the machine and your finish of the seam will look like most jeans.

Anonymous said...

Great tips! I recently lost a good bit of weight and was just feeling a little bummed by my favorite clothes being frumpy and not having the $$ to buy new right now. I'll give this a try!

Jessie Byrd said...

Thank you so much for this great article! I've been looking for ways to take in my husband's clothes after he lost a bunch of weight last year. This is definitely going to help us save money that we can put toward something else (fingers crossed for my own wardrobe makeover!).
Jessie Byrd | http://gmcustomclothier.com/custom-tailor-clothing-houston-tx/