4 Ways To Make A Skirt Waist Bigger!

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Does your skirt feel just a little tight around the waistline? Don’t worry! There are many ways you can fix this problem, let me show you how!

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1. Add Side Gussets

closeup of triangle side gusset on skirt

Adding gussets to a skirt is something I have done multiple times on various skirts! It adds some matching (or non-matching, if you wish) fabric triangles to each side seam to taper it out gradually to your needed waist size.

This method works best for skirts that:

  • Have a removeable waistband (lots of denim and woven skirts do. You CAN do this on a stretchy skirt too, but you may have to remake the waist band depending on how the elastic is inserted)
  • Don’t have a size zipper

For the most professional looking results that hides the alteration the best, you should use matching fabric to make your gussets. You can hem the length of your skirt to use the excess to make gussets with, make the gussets out of the pockets of the skirt, or buy matching fabric.

side gussets on a denim skirt to make waist bigger

You can also use a contrasting fabric, and you will end up with a more playful and bold look.

To add side gussets to your skirt, you will follow the exact same instructions as in this tutorial for making jeans waist bigger.

2. Insert a Panel

Inserting a panel is another way to add additional fabric to your skirt to add width, but this method adds the width all the way down the skirt.

You could add the panel to the front of the skirt (and maybe a matching one on the back) to make it look like an intentional design feature. Keep in mind if the panel is quite wide, the side seams will move.

This method works good for skirts that:

  • Need width added all the way down, not just at the waist
  • Have a side zipper that you don’t want to mess with
  • Don’t have a front zipper

This method essentially involves:

  1. measuring how large of a panel you will need
  2. cutting off the waistband (or, you can leave the waistband and attach the panel all the way up)
  3. cutting a line all the way down the skirt in the desired panel location
  4. Inserting the panel and re-attaching the waistband

The panel front skirt can get really creative, using matching or contrasting fabric, adding ruffles down the panel, making a quilt block/color block look, etc.

Here is a good easy tutorial about how to add panels to an a-line skirt.

3. Shorten The Skirt From The Top

Shortened skirt from top waistband

If you can’t/don’t want to find matching fabric to add side gussets, another option is to shorten the skirt from the top.

Some skirts are not a perfect rectangle, meaning they get wider the lower down on the skirt you measure. If you remove the waist band, then cut off the top of the skirt until you have the width you need, you can use the cut off material to make the waistband wider, and then re-attach it!

This method is good for skirts that:

  • Have a decorative bottom hem you don’t want to ruin
  • Are long enough that you could/want to shorten it
  • Skirts that get wider as they go down (A line skirts, for example)

Now keep in mind that if you need a drastic width increase, this method is likely going to drastically change your skirt appearance. Your ankle length skirt may need to become a tea or knee length skirt, for example.

*You will need to measure the skirt to see how far down on the skirt you would need to cut to get to the correct width, to determine if it is worth it. If you only need a couple inches, you might be able to get away with it. If you need several inches more, you may end up with a short skirt, which may be totally fine too!

Here is my tutorial on the basic outline of how to shorten a skirt from the top.

4. Insert A Longer Elastic

Finally, the easiest way to make a skirt waist bigger on a gathered skirt is to simply remove the waistband, and reattach or reinsert a longer elastic!

gathered skirt waistband

Most gathered skirts have ample material that if let out just a little bit, would fit just fine. (This happens to me when I am pregnant and my waist no longer goes “in”!)

A stretchy a-line type skirt may or may not have enough material to fit, even with a new elastic.

This method works best with skirts that:

  • Have plenty of gathered fabric at the waist, but just need a bigger waist size
  • Fit perfectly in the hips

Some gathered skirts have the elastic attached to the skirt itself (sometimes referred to sewn-in or serged-in). In this case, you have to unpick the elastic and just sew a new one right back on. You can learn how to do this in this tutorial: How to remove and replace an elastic waistband.

If your skirt has an encased elastic (like the skirt in the previous tutorial I mentioned above in #3) then you will have to make a new, wider waistband to fit the new elastic. You can follow that tutorial, just don’t cut any of the skirt material away to make it shorter. Just remove elastic, remake it, and replace it.

I hope these 4 tips were helpful to you as you attempt to alter your skirt!

There technically is one more option, although I hesitate to add it to the list because it isn’t usually a good option.

It is this: widen the skirt by letting it out at the side seams. SOME skirts may have this option. Most skirts probably wont, that is just how skirts are constructed these days. But maybe yours does!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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