How to shorten a dress without sewing

How To Shorten A Dress Without Sewing – Easiest Guide

When you need a quick tailoring, for your dress, you can always look for alternate ways, for example, you could be new to your sewing journey, and you bought a dress recently which is too long for you, or you have an event with your friend and family, but you don’t have any needle or sewing machine with you, or maybe you are on a film set and your actor needs a costume. For these situations, we have some solutions for you.

Tailoring your clothing takes a lot of effort and skill, but nothing is too rewarding than having the right fit. Sewing and tailoring skills can be learned overnight, for example, even adjusting a waistband takes a lot of effort. Even if you have no experience with sewing, you can adjust your dress. Shortening a dress is also not quite difficult. Even if you don’t know how to operate a sewing machine, we have discussed methods by which you can shorten your dress. Whether your fix will be temporary or permanent, you will be able to achieve your true result in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • We have discussed different methods of determining the length of your dress.
  • Different techniques with 4 materials to shorten the dress.
  • Some tips to help you take the right material for this project.

Length You Want for the Dress

Length you want for the dress
Length you want for the dress

Make sure where you want your garment to fall, for this, you need to have an even hem on your dress.

You will need some tools and materials for measuring the length:

  • A tape measure.
  • Tailor’s chalk.
  • Safety pins.

We will go through the methods below:

  1. Bring a friend or family member, put your dress on, and stand in front of them with equal weight on both feet. If you have to shorten a dress for an event which has a floor length and if you are going to wear heels for the event, make sure you wear your heels during the shortening period. Or else, if you don’t want to wear your shoes, stand with hip-width apart.
  2. You can tell your friend the length you want. You can use a mirror for this. You can bend over to show them the length, which will cause bad measurement. Or, your friend can fold your dress to show you if you like the look, then you can use safety pins to test different lengths. Every time you take new measurements, unpin them.
  3. When you have found the length, hold the tape measure at zero.
  4. Once you have the measurement from your waist, tell your partner to measure down to the hem and then you can note that number. Then, you can mark it with chalk. Measure a few points around the circumference of the dress to make a consistent line. After you take the dress off, join the markings with the chalk for a clean line.

If you don’t have any friends or family to help, you can use the method below:

Stand in front of a mirror while you are wearing your dress. If you have heels that you will be wearing with your dress, put on your heels, too.

Mark where you want your dress to fall, then insert a safety pin there. Stand straight and check if it is in place. Keep adjusting the safety pin unless you find the right length.

  1. Measure the length from the hem to the safety pin, note your length, and mark with chalk.
  2. Mark this way for the rest of the dress using the measurement upwards. Create a line by joining the markings.
  3. If you want, you can fold the dress up inside and secure it with a safety pin to your new length. Dress to see if this is the way you want.

4 Ways to Shorten Your Dress

When you don’t have a sewing machine, but you want to shorten your dress, you can do that. some of the methods are temporary, while some of the methods are permanent. Below, we will discuss how you can achieve the length you want on a dress:

1. Hem tape

 Hem tape
Hem tape

Hem tape is very easy to use and has many varieties to choose from which will vary on your choices. They have a variety of widths, colors, and uses. If you want to buy hem – tape, you can go to a store and then pick your tape, to do this, you should know about the original products which will give you a better solution.

For this purpose, you can use fusible hem- tape, to use fusible hem tape, you will need an iron and it will create a permanent hem that will withstand washing.  Hem-tape usually looks like tape with a webbed pattern, and it melts in the heat of an iron. The tape will bond to both sides of your fabric, so you can fuse it with the fabric easily. Read the instructions before you use your tape. Below we will discuss how it works.

Tools and materials we will need

  • Hem tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Measuring tape.
  • Iron.
  1. You need to know the measurement of your circumference for your hem, then cut a strip of tape, so that it fits. You can cut it slightly longer than the hem and trim it at the end.
  2. Turn your dress inside out, fold the hem, and iron it to create a crease. Between the layers, insert hem tape, you can do it all at once or you can work in sections to ensure an even placement.
  3. Set your iron, if you have a delicate fabric, use another cloth to press it down. Iron the hem by pressing firmly and slowly along the dress. Iron your fabric, but never touch the iron to the tape.

Your fusible hem tape should be based on the type of your fabric. You can choose from stretch seam tape or heavyweight tape. If you want, you can test on a piece of scrap fabric to find out if you have the right one for you.  If you want temporary solutions, you can try options, such as removable fabric tape and temporary hem strips, which do not require ironing.

3. Removable Hem-Tape

If you are using removable hem – tape, make sure you follow these steps:

  1. Fusible hem tape also works like fusible hem tape, you can turn the dress inside out and fold the hem.
  2. Cut your tape, remove the paper backing, and adhere it in between the hem. Press down firmly to make sure the tape stays.
  3. If you want, you can remove your dress easily and iron your dress for the next use.

Hem tape has many different forms and it can be used for everything, such as, to shorten your dress, or to hem your pants.

4. Fabric glue

Fabric glue
Fabric glue

You can also use fabric glue to secure a hem, you will get permanent fabric glue and also temporary fabric glue, you need to do a little research to know which one is best for you. You will get washable fabric glue while there are fabric glues that are not washable, so before you buy your fabric glue, you need to read the packaging.

Permanent Fabric Glue

  • Turn your dress inside out and fold the hem up, iron the crease, then open the hem up again.
  • Read the instructions, most glues have an applicator tip or wand. Apply the glue to the hem, then spread the glue for an even finish.
  • Fold the hem, then press firmly, if your glue is temporary, follow the instructions to dissolve it, you can also try to wash it with water.
  • Every seamstress should have fabric glue that she will use to adhere jewels to a dress or to fix her carpet, etc.

5. Safety pins

 Safety pins
Safety pins
  • If you want the best method with pins, you may want to iron the marked fold first which will make sure that the hemline is clean and it will help to keep it folded.
  • Turn your dress inside out. Pin your hem, starting from the side seams, then you can pin at the front and the back of the dress. Use safety pins from the inside out, so the pins will be on the inside of your dress.
  • You can add more pins to your hems if it’s needed.  If your fabric is thin, then try to work with a small amount of fabric on the outside with the pins.
  • Safety pins have versatile use, if you have to quickly or temporarily shorten your garments, you can try with different colors of pins which will blend with your garments easily.

6 . Belt


You can also try a belt if you are out of pins. Below we will discuss how you can use the belt.

  • Wear your dress and stand in front of your mirror.
  • If you want to shorten your dress to a very short length, try to fold it inside itself, and tuck your ends into your belt around your waist.
  • If you have to shorten your dress by a few inches, draw your dress towards the waist, so that excess fabric flows out of the top over the belt, or try and belt over the folded area. You can try a wide belt for this.

This method is an open method, so you can try to move the dress around and then you can shorten it. Since you are in front of a mirror, you can anticipate how the result is going to be which will make things quick and easy.

Tips to Choose the Best Method

Tips to choose the best method
Tips to choose the best method

We have discussed some methods to shorten your dress, although, there are some factors which are important to determine the best method for you to shorten the dress. Below we have given some important tips to make the final decision:

  • Fabric: You have to know what kind of fabric you are using for your dress, is your fabric lightweight or heavy, is your material is stretchy or non-stretchy.
  • Length: You should note down the length of your dress. The length at which you want to keep it, and if you have any excess fabric with you, take that measurement, too.
  • Time: It usually takes half an hour to shorten a dress. Before you start your project, you should have the right time estimation with you to finish your projects.
  • Occasion: If you are using your dress for any formal party or if it is for your best friend’s birthday party, the length will be different for both occasions.

When you know your answers, these will narrow down your choices and these will make it a lot easier to settle on a tool.


How long does it take to shorten a dress?

If you are new to sewing, you might feel intimidated by this process, although, it does not require any special skill, it will only take half an hour or less to shorten a dress.

What is it called to shorten a dress?

To shorten a dress, skirt, pants, or other garments you can use hemming, where the excess fabric will fold up to the inside of your clothing, so that, you can wear it without any problem.

Is hem tape removable?

Hem-tape is intended to use on fabrics, once they are ironed onto your jeans or leggings, they are permanently attached to your fabric. so, before you are applying it, keep that in mind.

Final Thoughts

We have discussed, different methods of how to shorten a dress without sewing, which can be done by anyone, whether you are a beginner or a professional sewist. While you are exploring with these options, you should also keep in mind that, it takes a lot of effort to master hem- tape. Beside this, when you are using fabric glue, it will certainly make you a better crafter. You can combine two or more methods. When you are determined which one to follow, you are one step ahead with your craft dream.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

Leave a Reply