Altering a first communion dress

N wants to wear the first communion dress her sisters wore, but it’s tight on her, especially in the sleeves. The sleeves are puffed at the shoulder and at the hem. The puff at the hem is made by sewing the outer fabric to a much smaller lining piece.

I thought I could replace that lining piece with one the same size as the outer fabric, and make a straight hem. And perhaps, if the seam allowances allowed, let out the side seams a little, too.

My first attempt, on the dress’s left side, went pretty well, although I had to redo the side seam several times, first because the waist seam wasn’t going so well, and again because I forgot to put the sash back in. I was only able to add 3/8″ to the circumference, but if I can get that much on the other side, too, that’s 3/4″ — might be enough to breathe easier.

I am very pleased with how the new sleeve turned out. I like it better than the original, but that may just be because I am not fond of puffed hems on anything.

Left side done:


Original sleeve:


Altered sleeve:



2 thoughts on “Altering a first communion dress

  1. nice, i don’t think i would want to try altering something so special, especially if it’s not mine…too much anxiety about screwing it up beyond repair!

  2. I would have definitely felt the same if not for the fact that the dress was unwearable as is and they were ready to buy another one anyway.

    The alteration project I’m most afraid of currently is a fancy dress I received for a gig that no longer fits me. Because of its straight line style, I am hoping that inserting side panels in a coordinating or matching fabric would work, but I don’t want to ruin it. On the other hand, if I can’t wear it anyway, I might as well try.

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