How to Lengthen a Too Short Top
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Learn how to add length to a too-short top with this easy sewing tutorial!
How to Lengthen a Too Short Top
Does your little one have a beloved top that’s just a little bit too short for your taste? Maybe when they raise their arms, a wee bit too much belly shows?
My little missy must be in a bit of a growth spurt, because we have quite a few tops that fall into this category, lol.
Sometimes I can size up on a top to get a bit more length. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, since sizing up can cause the neckline or underarm area to be huge! Plus we have a ton of tops I bought last year that technically still fit, except for the length.
I have a couple of other posts you might be interested in that are a similar theme:
- Upcycle a Favorite Too Small Shirt into Something They’ll Love!
- How to Turn a Too Short Swimsuit into a Tankini
- How to Make a New Dress from an Old Sweater
Our favorite top is too short!
My lil missy has this adorable sequined cat sweater I gave her last Christmas. (from Target, but now sold out) The sweater is definitely on the short side, and she still wants to wear it.
My solution to this problem? Just add a few inches with a strategically placed ruffle!
Just add a ruffle
For the added ruffle on this sweater, I used a very lightweight (and oh-so-slippery) ivory chiffon I already had in my stash.
The result is absolutely amazing, but working with that chiffon was definitely a bit of a challenge. So if you choose to use chiffon for your ruffle, you might want to opt for a fabric with a bit more weight. But if you love the look of the lightweight chiffon, just be prepared to fight the fabric.
Even though it’s tough to work with, I’ll probably make another one or two with this chiffon, because the final result looked so good. (Plus, I have another yard of this fabric in my stash.) But I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for another ivory fabric that will be slightly easier to work with.
I’d love to find a lightweight knit fabric that doesn’t curl at the end. (no hemming, yea!) Or maybe a sturdier rayon polyester type fabric – I’ll know it when I see it, lol.
My missy and I are pleased as punch at how this top turned out! (So much, she wore it on our little Saturday girl’s day adventure, slept in it that night, and continued to wear it until I made her take it off before we went to the neighborhood chili cook-off.)
While we were outside taking pictures, my son decided to join us and goaded her into “playing catch” with the pumpkin!
He caught it, thank goodness. I would not have been a happy camper if he dropped it, as that is our last pumpkin!
(Legging pattern found here: Free Basic Legging Pattern
how to add a bit of fabric and extend the length of your favorite top:
Products used and recommended in this post:
Favorite fabric suppliers: Knits: Funkalicous Fabrics and NR Fabrics on Etsy, Girl Charlee and for Cottons: Fabric.com, Joann’s and Fat Quarter Shop
- My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist (600-Stitch Machine with Extension Table, Bonus Accessories and Hard Cover)
- My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
- Rotary Cutter
- I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start off with a smaller Cutting set
- Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
- Ball Point needles (only if working with knit fabric)
- Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!
- Too short top
- Fabric ( lightweight knit or rayon-y woven fabrics, chiffon. Something with good drape and flow)
- Ruler, scissors, and other basic sewing supplies
Step 1: Determine how much length you want to add to the top.
Use a tape measure or ruler and decide how much length you want to add to your top.
To that measurement, you want to add additional length for the top and bottom seam allowances. (in my case, I added .25 to the top seam and no length to the bottom seam since I just serged the bottom.) Don’t forget to take into account where you will be attaching the layer to the existing top. (Since I sewed along the top of the bottom ribbing, I needed to add an extra inch to my length.)
To get the width needed, measure around the bottom of the top, multiply this by 1.5, and add in .5 for seam allowance. (If using a sturdier fabric, you may want less ruffle, in that case, multiply by 1.3 or 1.4.)
Cut a strip of fabric to your calculated width and height.
Step 2: sew the ruffle together at the ends
Using your preferred method, finish the top and bottom of the strip. Line up the side edges, sew together and finish the seam. (In my case, I did a rolled hem on the bottom, and I finished the top edge and gathered at the same time with my serger.)
Step 3: Gather the ruffle
Sew a gathering stitch along the top of the fabric and gather the ruffle until it is the same width as the bottom of your top.
Step 4: Attach the ruffle
Line up the ruffle with the bottom of your shirt and sew in place with a stretch stitch or a double needle.
That’s it; you’re done! Doesn’t it look great? And I’m sure your little one will love it too!
If you end up trying this out, be sure to come back and share your finished project to my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @scatteredmom, using #scatteredmompatterns
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About the Author
Jamie Sanders is a wife and mom of 2, located in the heart of Texas. She founded Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom in 2011 as a place to share creative ideas and family friendly recipes. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart, Woman’s World, HuffPost, TODAY, Pioneer Woman, HGTV, CNET, Good Housekeeping, Yahoo, Oprah Daily, and Redbook, plus many other publications. To date, she had given away just under a million free pdf sewing patterns.
This turned out really pretty! I can see why she wanted to keep this sweater. Love it! And I like it better with the sweet ruffle.
I love it and the ideas from the other commenters. I’ve been needing to do this for a while to 2 blouses. Your post & pics are so cute, that I will actually finish my tops! Thank you.
This is an excellent post! Pinned to my Useful Sewing board. I have a few tops that I love the way they fit, but are on the shorter side. Definitely going to revisit this. Thanks!
A wide piece of heavy lace would work for this too. You can match different weights with different fabrics. Don’t know how you feel about thrift stores, but they are a good place to find leftover pieces of fabric or trims for a small job like this.
Woolly nylon serger thread will give a smooth finish. Does a great job of catching “whiskers” on the fabric edge.
How funny you should say that! I just bought a bunch of the maxilock stretch thread to try out. Mostly because my daughter has been complaining about the itchiness of the serged seams and hems. I can’t wait to try it on all different types of applications.
I was just looking at a sweater this morning, thinking I wish this was longer. Ironically I pulled out my old faithful which by the way has the additional ruffle at the bottom (store bought). I sit down at the pc to wait for hubby and open up your blog post!!! Why I never thought of this before is beyond me. So thanks for knocking on my old brain with this idea.
You don’t have to finish it off if you just fold it up. So, instead of a 3″ length, use 6″ and fold it, gather the top etc. Iron a sharp edge on the fold
yes, this would definitely be easier if you don’t have a serger to finish and gather in one step.
Thanks Jamie. I’ve used 1 t-shirt to lengthen another ‘favorite’ t-shirt before but I’m going to try your method with a couple sweaters.
Linda – I LOVE your suggestion to fold the material double to avoid the need for a hem.