DIY Alterations Tutorial: Taking in an exposed elastic waist skirt

stripe and pleat2 copy

NY & Co skirt (altered, see below), H&M; top (old), necklace borrowed from friend (similar),
Old Navy hat, AT tote (old), Jenn heels c/o Sole Society, BR sunglasses c/o

I’ve been reaching for this skirt all summer (first reviewed here) because you just can’t beat the comfort of an elastic waistband. It’s now on final sale for under $15, but please read all reviews as it’s more of a crinkle texture than soft, pliable pleats. This top is an oldie from H&M;, but it leads me to mention that this popular crossover drape blouse has been fully restocked in 2 colors! (see my review at the bottom of this post)

stripe and pleat copy

For this skirt, I also wanted to share a belated step-by-step of how I took in the waist and sides to get a perfect fit. As always, I want to emphasize that I’m not an experienced sewer, so this is not necessarily the proper way to do it. I almost always pay for a professional job, but this looked too easy not to attempt! The elastic waistband here is completely exposed, so please note it would be more complicated for a concealed waistband.

Step 1: Try on skirt and hold the waist up to where you’d like it to sit. Mark (with fabric chalk) the amount that needs to be taken in on the waistband. Keep in mind that elastic is stretchy so you need it to be pulled fairly taught to stay put. I made the mistake of not taking in enough the first time around and the waistband kept slipping downward. I’m demonstrating this step with the pink version (subsequently returned) since I forgot to snap a pic with the white : )

skirt alterations

Step 2: Using tiny sharp scissors, remove the stitching that attaches the lining to the waistband. Be careful to cause as little fraying as possible. Remove stitching about half an inch past the marked line from Step 1. With the skirt lying flat on the ground inside-out, lift the lining up and flip it over the top so that the interior of the skirt fabric is exposed.

skirt alterations 1

Step 3: Mark a straight line to stitch on using pins or fabric chalk. I wanted to take in equal amounts at the waistband and throughout the skirt, so kept the distance between the stitched line and the edge of the skirt consistent throughout. Stitch along this line and then trim off excess, leaving a centimeter of seam allowance. If you’re only taking in a little bit, it may not be necessary to trim at all, especially if you don’t have a serger to re-finish the raw seams.

skirt alterations 2

Steps 4 – 5: Repeat the stitching and trimming with the lining fabric. If you have a serger, lock the freshly cut edges now so they don’t fray. I don’t have one so use a zig zag stitch on my regular machine, running it along the raw edges.

Step 6: Flip the lining back down so that the elastic waistband is exposed. Press the seam allowance edge of the elastic waistband down to one side and stitch a line to secure it down.

skirt alterations 3

Step 7: See the small pocket of lining fabric right above the dotted blue line in Step 6? Tuck any frayed edges inside, then fold and secure that patch down with a stitch parallel to the waistband. Try to conceal this stitch by sewing exactly on top of any pre-existing stitch lines. Remember to backstitch each time you start or end a new stitch so the thread doesn’t come undone.

skirt alterations 4

Photos 8 – 9 are just closeups of the finished product. This is how my waistband looks from the interior (pic 8) and exterior (pic 9) once alterations are complete. The exposed elastic waistband is not top quality nor the most refined look, but it does allow for easy alterations!


26 thoughts on “DIY Alterations Tutorial: Taking in an exposed elastic waist skirt

  • Anonymous August 25, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    You look so cute! I love the white pleated dress.


  • M August 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Thanks for encouraging us to read all reviews! I was ready to go ahead and buy this skirt because it looks great on you and because, well, it's on SALE! After reading all the reviews, I'm convinced this won't work on me thanks to my big hips. Full elastic waistbands do nothing to flatter me, and the crinkle in front will not do me any flavors either. Looks really great on you though! 🙂

  • Petite-ish August 26, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Pretty! Even in a crop top, you look ever the lady. Have you tried wearing your hat at an angle farther bag on the head? I find that makes for more flattering photos!

  • Anonymous August 26, 2014 at 1:27 am

    So cute Jean!! Love the outfit.. I just bought a navy pleated skirt. Do you think I'll be able to find a similar top at H&M;?


  • Dressed with soul August 26, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Thanks a lot for this helpful tutorial as I often have the same problem. Your outfit is so cute, I own the same top btw 🙂

  • andrea August 26, 2014 at 1:39 am

    This is a great tutorial…and so easy to follow for us newbie sewers! Thanks for sharing Jean!


  • Revital August 26, 2014 at 2:05 am

    such a cute dress! I love it

  • kim August 26, 2014 at 2:13 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I want this whole outfit, and the background in the photo, too.

  • Mei Fleming August 26, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Such ladylike elegance. This pleated white skirt's a staple!!

  • Maria - Petite Living August 26, 2014 at 4:38 am

    GORGEOUS outfit. The Panama hat gives such a nice vibe to the overall picture 🙂

    And the pleated skirt is definitely a wardrobe-must. Beautiful! 🙂 xxx

    Maria, Petite Living

  • Sasa Zoe August 26, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Beautiful pleated skirt! <3

  • Maria Wilson August 26, 2014 at 9:46 am

    This is a fantastic tutorial! You don't know how many times I pass up a beautiful skirt because the fit isn't right. I'm also petite at 5'2" and find it difficult to get the perfect fit sometimes. That's why I appreciate your blog so much! Thank you!

    xo, Maria

  • Julie August 26, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Nice tutorial! I've been very into the pleated skirt look this summer.

    Style by Joules

  • Chelsea Marrs August 26, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Omg obsessed with that flowy skirt! Great Post 😀


    Chelsea | Chow Down by the Bay

  • Carol from Petite Style Online August 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing your alterations tutorial.

  • Liz | Shopping My Closet August 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Love the romantic white pleats!

    Liz @
    Come by! Weekly Style Me Wednesday fashion blog link-up

  • Berty Morales August 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Beautiful skirt, and I wish I knew how to do alterations. I know I could more vintage pieces as I want too. You always look so stunning and love your style. In love with this entire look.

    Flextra by Ryka/Giveaway
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  • Anonymous August 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Quick note on the skirt- the one that I bought had a few pleats that weren't quite even. I asked my tailor if she could fix them, along with taking in the waistband. The waistband turned out fine, but the pleats looked even worse, even after two attempts on her part. And she is normally a very good tailor. So, just to warn people, if you get this skirt and the pleats don't look right, it might not be possible to fix them!

  • Miss Hot Couture August 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! I wish I can do alterations but I am simply…lazy!

  • Nancy @ Neatly-Packaged August 26, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    This is awesome!

    Interested in making new blog friends and getting a kickass journal? Check out my latest post! 🙂

  • Anonymous August 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    What is the brand and model of your sewing machine? I'm planning to invest in one to try to fix simple stuffs.

  • Didi August 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm
  • top sites, Austin Diesel Repairs view site October 4, 2014 at 2:37 am

    I have the same exact skirt. It's my favorite coz it's so comfortable to wear.

  • Anonymous October 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I love your posts and like how you know how to sew and modify clothes yourself. So awesome! I'm looking for the same white skirt but more chiffon material

  • Elisha Kelly November 18, 2014 at 7:04 am

    You look adorable with your cute pleated skirt. Find accessories that will add beauty to your outfit.

  • Princess Elisha November 19, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Love your pleated skirt!! So chic!!

    New FASHION post on

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