36 Sewing and Alterations You Can Do Yourself

heather handmade sewing

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Learn all these sewing and alterations you can do yourself to make your wardrobe fit well and last longer. Don’t pay for these alterations!

Clothing is made to fit an average body that doesn’t exist. It’s the average measurements of people done by doctors from more than fifty years ago. It’s really hard to get ready to wear clothing fit you perfectly right off the rack.

It’s great to learn simple ways to sew and alter clothes to get a beautiful, custom fit. A custom fit is the best way to make your clothing look well-made and expensive.

Sewing and Alterations You Can Do Yourself

There are lots of ways for sewing and alterations to change clothes like lengthening or shortening hems, taking in the sides or letting out the sides, adding darts or removing darts, lengthening or shortening sleeves, mending holes, etc.

There is no end to what you can do with clothing, and you can even do additionaly refashions like adding a skirt, chopping off sleeves, and adding pockets to make something you love.

A lot of these clothing alterations work well for women’s clothing since I usually alter for myself, but the majority of these work for all: men, women, and children. You can always take excess fabric in, and you can often let clothing out by using the side seams or adding fabric.

Should I prewash the item?

If you have not washed the item yet, and it doesn’t fit the way you want, then I recommend washing and drying the item the way you will treat it when you wash and wear it. You want the fabric to shirnk or settle into the way it’ll be permanently. Then any changes you make will be accurate.

mark shoulder

Do you like reworking clothing? Check out these lists of tutorials!

Sewing and Alterations You Can Do Yourself

hem jeans with original hem

How to Hem Jeans with the Original Hem

If your jeans are too long, then you don't want to lose the unique details on the hem. Learn how to hem jeans with the original hem.

how to hem jeans

How to Hem Jeans

Learn how to hem jeans by measuring the desired length, cutting off the excess fabric, and sewing a new hem. It's a beginner sewing project!

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

How to Make a Shirt Bigger

Learn how to make a shirt bigger by sewing fabric panels into each side seam. This is a great fix for shirts that are just a little too tight, and it makes the circumference of the body and of the sleeves larger.

shorten sweater sleeves

How to Shorten Sweater Sleeves

Learn how to shorten sweater sleeves that are too with just a sewing machine. Make sleeves the right length and keep the nice ribbed cuff.

jacket with broken zipper

How to Replace a Zipper on a Jacket

Learn how to replace a zipper on a jacket to keep using it. This is the perfect fix for unlined jackets with a broken zipper.

how to sew on a patch

How to Sew on a Patch

Learn how to sew on a patch three different ways! See examples of sewing a patch onto a backpack, jeans, and a pouch.

sew around three sides

How to Add a Back Pocket to Leggings

Learn how to add a pocket to leggings to hold your phone or keys. It’s annoying not having pockets, and this is a simple way to add a center back waistband pocket.

crop sweatshirt before

How to Crop a Sweatshirt: 3 Ways

Learn how to crop a sweatshirt that is too long. Shorten a sweater three different ways by cropping, hemming, and resewing the waistband.

how to alter the shoulder on a blouse

How to Alter Shoulders on a Blouse

If a blouse fits in the bust or hips, but it's too large in the shoulders use this the alteration. Learn to alter shoulders on a blouse for a custom fit.

how to lengthen pants

How to Lengthen Pants

Learn how to lengthen pants by letting out the hem and rehemming with a hidden bias hem tape. This technique works well on dress pants.

How to Cinch a Waist with Elastic

How to Cinch a Waist with Elastic

Learn how to cinch a waist of a dress or a shirt with elastic. It's the quickest and easiest way to bring in the waist and make it more flattering.

pinch center back of pants

How to Take in Waist of Pants

Learn how to take in the waist of pants for a better fit. This works best when the pants fit you everywhere except for the waist.

How to Crop Jeans after

How to Crop Jeans

Learn how to crop jeans to the right length to get the popular raw edge look. This is an easy project and doesn’t require a sewing machine.

how to lengthen a dress with a ruffle

How to Lengthen a Dress with a Ruffle

If you have a dress that's just a little too short then you can lengthen a dress with a ruffle! It's an easy and quick fix, and you can use pretty fabric.

broken jeans zipper

How to Fix a Zipper on Jeans

If your jean zipper has broken on your favorite pair, then learn how to fix a zipper on jeans by replacing it with a new zipper.

how to shorten sleeves of a button up shirt

How to Shorten Sleeves of a Button Up Shirt

Everyone has individual measurements which means we all need alterations to make our clothes fit. Shorten the sleeves of a button up shirt for an easy sewing alteration!

jean waist too big

How to Take in the Waist of Jeans with Elastic

Learn how to take in the waist of jeans with elastic for a quick and simple fix. This alteration is great for getting the waistband of jeans to fit!

cut pants into shorts

How to Cut Pants into Shorts

Learn how to cut pants into shorts for the summer heat. This easy sewing alteration is a great way to give pants or jeans new life!

sweater to shorten sleeves

How to Shorten a Sweater

With this simple sewing tutorial you can make a sweater the right length! You can shorten the hem of a sweater, the hem of a cardigan, or you can shorten the sleeves of a sweater.

How to Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress

How to Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress

Learn how to add sleeves to a strapless dress by sewing on thick straps and flutter sleeves. This is a quick alteration to make a dress more wearable!

How to Make a One Piece Into a Tankini

How to Make a One Piece Into a Tankini

Learn how to make a one piece into a tankini. This refashion project is great for a one piece swimsuit that is too short or long in the torso.

how to mend a hole in jeans

How to Fix a Hole in Jeans

Learn how to fix a hole in jeans. It's common for jeans to get holes in the knees, so this is a strong way to close the hole and it's almost invisible.

jacket with new zipper pull

How to Fix a Zipper: Replace Zipper Pull and Replace Zipper Stops

Learn how to fix a zipper. Learn to replace the zipper pull on a jacket or jeans, and then replace the zipper stops to keep the pull on.

How to Refashion a T-Shirt That is Too Small

How to Refashion a T-Shirt That is Too Small

Learn how to refashion a t-shirt that is too small by removing your favorite graphic and putting it onto a larger t-shirt or shirt.

fix neckline of dress

How to Raise a Neckline

Learn how to raise a neckline of a dress with this simple sewing tutorial. Fix a low cut neckline of a prom dress or any formal dress.

Shorten a Sweater from the Bottom with Hem Tape

Learn how to shorten a sweater from the bottom with hem tape. This sewing technique removes the ribbing, but it's an easy sewing alteration.

line lace dress

How to Line a Lace Dress

Learn how to line a dress for modesty and coverage you are comfortable with. Line the bodice of a lace dress or the sleeves of a lace dress.

how to sew back darts

How to Sew Back Darts

Learn how to sew back darts to get the best fit on your top or dress. It's a simple way to pull in a waist for a flattering fit.

How to Make a Dress Longer // heatherhandmade.com

How to Make a Dress Longer

Make your dress that is too short fit better with one of these two great sewing tutorials. Learn how to make a dress longer with lace or with fabric.

add sleeves to a dress

How to Add Sleeves to a Dress

Learn how to add sleeves to a dress. This sewing tutorial works well with any sleeveless dress or a dress with straps.

How to Add Back Darts to a Dress // heatherhandmade.com

How to Add Back Darts to a Dress

Learn how to sew back darts to get the best fit on your top or dress. It's a simple way to pull in a waist for a flattering fit.

How to Lengthen Jacket Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

How to Lengthen Sleeves of a Jacket

Learn how to lengthen sleeves of a jacket using a sweater or socks. This is a great upcycle for gettings sleeves to be long enough!

How to Fix a Hole in a Sweater

How to Fix a Hole in a Sweater

Instead of throwing away a sweater that has a hole in it, you can easily mend it! It's an easy fix to give a new life to any sweater!

how to cuff shorts

How to Hem Shorts with a Cuff

Learn how to hem shorts with a cuff for a casual and fun look. This sewing tutorial requires minimal sewing and can be done by hand.

how to sew a cuff on dress pants

How To Sew A Cuff on Dress Pants

Learn how to sew a cuff on dress pants with just a sewing machine. This is an easy way to hem nice pants without sewing by hand.

If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

sewing and alterations
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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Heather, a few months ago you had a tutorial on shortening sweaters. I have several that I’d like to shorten. Where can I see that tutorial again>

Love your site, you are so talented and knowlegable

What a helpful thing you have printed for all of us who enjoy creating clothes that fit! My most favorite part of sewing is upcycling; so satisfying!