I have said here time and again that I’m vertically challenged, or as some might say, short. In fact, I have a brilliant 7 ways guide to shortening a maxi dress derived from personal necessity.
As you can imagine, maxi dresses are not the only thing I have a problem with. At 5’2, most maxi skirts are a tad too long for me as well, even when I wear heels.
So what’s a girl to do? We learn how to make a maxi skirt shorter to fit our petite size. Lord knows how much I love maxi skirts and dresses, and height will not be the thing to stop me from wearing them. (You can also learn how to make a maxi skirt more flowy here.)
Granted, there are quick ways to shorten a maxi skirt. You can fold up the waistband and hold it with a belt, use safety pins to fold the hem or some fabric around the waist or even use hem tape, which is a bit long-lasting.
But I want to explore more permanent measures here for a skirt you will wear regularly and long term. And for that, we have two ways- the cutting and the no-cut method.
But first, you have to get the measurements just right.
How to Get the Right Length
There is no shortcut with this one- you have to get your tape measure and maybe a friend as well. If you are alone, get another maxi skirt that fits you perfectly in a similar silhouette. This will be your guide because it already has the perfect length.
- Turn the oversized skirt inside out and lay it flat on a hard surface like a table.
- Place the other skirt on top of it, aligning the waists and ensuring it’s straight.
- Trace a line across where the top skirt stops.
- Add an inch or two for the hem and make another mark there.
If you are not using another skirt,
- Put on the skirt you want to shorten. This helps because your hips will usually lift the skirt up.
- Take the measuring tape and run it from your waist to the top of your feet. This is where a friend comes in to help.
- Make several marks across the skirt to join later.
- Take off the skirt and join the marks around the skirt. Again, you can add an inch for the hem. Ensure this line is straight so one side is not longer than the other.
How to Make Maxi Skirt Shorter Using:
1. The No-Cut Method
I use the no-cut method when the skirt is not too long. Sometimes you just need to fold back an inch or two to make it the perfect length. It’s also the best choice if the fabric is light and likely to run if you cut it, or if you are just not very good at cutting straight lines.
- Depending on how thick the fabric and the hem are, you can choose to remove the old stitches from the hem or leave them. I prefer removing it if it’s possible to make the new seam flatter.
- Iron the hem area flat.
- Fold the skirt to where you marked the new hemline.
- Pin the new hem loosely to hold it in place.
- Hand sew or use a machine to stitch the new hemline and remove the pins as you go. Ensure you follow a straight line all around.
- Double-sew at the ends of the thread and trim off the excess.
- Iron again to flatten the new hem and turn the skirt on the right side.
2. The Waistline Method
Sometimes, it’s better to shorten the skirt from the waist instead of the hem. For instance, if the skirt has a unique hem such as asymmetry, lace, frills and such things, shortening the hem is not an option.
Here’s how to shorten a maxi skirt from the waist:
- Measure how many inches you need to take off the skirt and make a mark right below the waist.
- Turn the maxi skirt inside out and remove the stitches at the lower edge of the waistline.
- Grab the fabric from where you made the mark and fold it up to the waist.
- Use pins to hold this fold in place.
- Use a machine to sew the fabric along the waistline.
- Iron the area flat and turn the skirt right side out.
3. The Cutting Method
The cutting method works where the skirt is very long, or the fabric is too thick.
Using the mark we made earlier on the hem,
- Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut along the lower line.
- Fold the hem to where the second line was.
- Pin through both layers to hold the hem in place.
- Hand sew, or machine sew along the new hem. We will do two stitch lines so it looks flat and professional.
- Finish off the thread with a double stitch and cut it.
- Iron and turn the skirt right side out.
How to Make a Pleated Maxi Skirt Shorter
The easiest way to shorten a pleated maxi skirt is the waistline method. However, you may have to do a running stitch by hand to keep the pleats together once you remove the waistline stitch.
If you must shorten the hem, I recommend opening the pleats first and iron over the surface to flatten it. When it’s flat, fold over the hem or do any cutting you need to and sew. A blind hem stitch is the best option for this.
Finally, pin the pleats back and iron them again.
Yes, if you have to make a permanent alteration, you can hand stitch after cutting or folding the new hem. You can also use hem tape or fabric glue to hold the new hem in place. But if you want something temporary, pulling the skirt fabric over the belt or making a knot at the bottom are fantastic ways.
If you have a skirt with an unfinished end, you don’t have to hem it. The unfinished look is very much in style as long as the fabric doesn’t run. Once you cut off the excess fabric to shorten the skirt, make a top stitch half an inch from the end just to prevent running and leave it that way.