How to Alter a Blazer That is Too Big or Small (Easy Tips)

If you’ve lost weight, gained weight, or inherited a blazer intended for a different body shape altogether, don’t give up on that poorly-fitting blazer just yet.

Regardless of whether it’s a formal suit jacket or a more casual affair, a few minor adjustments could turn a blazer from the perfect nightmare into the perfect dream. Even better, you don’t need to be a tailoring wizard to achieve expert results – some adjustments can be made without you having to thread so much as a single needle, while others can be done with the bare minimum of sewing know-how.

All that being said, there are a few things that are going to be impossible, regardless of how much skill and expertise you have. A blazer is a bit of a complex beast, possessing an intricate structure that can only be sized down, sized up, or otherwise adjusted to a certain extent.

Can you alter a blazer? Cinching the waist by a dress size or two, adding shoulder pads where there are none, removing shoulder pads where there are some, narrowing the sleeves, shortening the length by an inch or two… all of these can be achieved without much surgery.

But if you were hoping to turn a size 8 blazer into a size 18, a waist-length blazer into a bottom grazing one, or dramatically alter the shoulders, forget it. No matter how skilled a tailor you are, proportions and sizes can only be changed by so much before you lose the structure of the blazer entirely.

Here, we look at what you can change… and how to do it.

How To Alter a Blazer For a Woman


When it comes to altering a woman’s blazer, the exact method you’ll need to use depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If the blazer looks boxy and old-fashioned, cinching it in at the waist can update it in a heartbeat… as can lopping off a chunk from the end and turning it into a funky cropped jacket.

Ultimately, what you do will depend on what look you want… but considering a lot of complaints about women’s blazers center on them being too ‘square’, a more fitted silhouette will be on most people’s wishlist.

To achieve a more flattering design, start by working out how much of the blazer’s fullness you want to remove. You can do this by trying the garment on before shaping it into the desired fit with sewing pins (if it’s a particularly bulky fabric, you might find clip-style clothespins work better). Once you’ve figured out what needs to be removed from where, take the blazer in at the side seams and hold the alterations in place with basting stitches. Check the fit again; if you’re happy, stitch through the outer fabric and lining to secure. Remove the basting stitches to finish. (read also fabric for blazer)

Altering a Blazer That is Too Big

If your blazer’s more than a couple of sizes bigger than you want it to be, you might need to consider donating it or repurposing it as something else. Due to the elaborate structure of blazers, trying to adjust them by more than 1 or 2 dress sizes risks comprising their integral design. But providing your expectations are realistic, making small reductions to the length, waist, sleeves, and chest is more than possible. We’ll look at how to adjust certain other areas shortly, but first, let’s take a look at how to shorten a blazer that’s too big lengthwise.

The Method

  • Step 1 - Put the blazer on and determine how much of the length you want to remove. Pin the inside of the blazer all the way around to indicate the desired length.
  • Step 2 - Remove the old hem to release the lining (you might find using a seam ripper helps).
  • Step 3 - Ensure the new hem is straight all the way around by using a ruler. Fold the blazer in half to ensure both sides are aligned. Insert the lining into the new hem, pinning and smoothing as you work your way around.
  • Step 4 - Once you’ve pinned the new hem in place, try the blazer on to make sure you’re happy with the length. Make any adjustments needed, then hand stitch the hem in place. Iron the hem on the inside of the jacket to finish.

Tailor a Blazer Waist


If you’re a fan of blazers, you’ll know that finding one that doesn’t look a little boxy can be a challenge. For reasons known only to them, designers seem to think we all either have square middles ourselves, or really appreciate a blazer that makes it look like we do.

While finding a blazer with a fitted waist is a chore, adjusting one to have one isn’t. Earlier, we looked at how to cinch in a waist by taking the blazer in at the side seams. Here’s how to achieve the same results with darts.

The Method

  • Step 1 - Open up the lining at the front seam. Try the blazer on, and use pins to mark out which areas need to be taking in.
  • Step 2 - Take the blazer off and move the pins from the front of the blazer to the corresponding place on the inside (you might find it easier to leave the front pins in place while you line up the ones on the inside).
  • Step 3 - Make as many darts as are needed to ensure a good fit. You might find the darts are easier to sew by hand than by machine if the blazer is lined. Remove the pins as you go along. Re-stitch the seams to finish.

How To Take in Blazer Shoulders

Of all the adjustments you can make to a blazer, shoulders are the most difficult. A few minor slips and you could easily end up with a scrunched-up shoulder line or one that droops… neither of which is likely to be what you intended. It’s not entirely impossible, however… just take it carefully with those scissors.

The Method

  • Step 1 - Flip the blazer inside out and remove the shoulder pads, if it has them. Using a seam ripper, remove the shoulder seam from the shoulder to the area where the armpit falls.
  • Step 2 - Fold over the outside of the sleeve by as much as you want to take the shoulder in by (an inch will usually be enough). Pin the fold and try on the blazer. If the shoulders are as they should be, proceed to step 3. If they’re still too large, fold over the sleeve by another inch.
  • Step 3 - Using a sewing machine, re-stitch the shoulder seam from the inside of the blazer. To finish, cut away any excess fabric.

How To Alter Blazer Sleeve Length


If you want an easy project, alter the sleeves of a blazer. Of all the possible adjustments you could make, this is the simplest. Obviously, you’ll only be able to lengthen according to how much excess material there is in the hem, and when shortening, bear in mind that a drastic change can make the buttons look off-kilter. But if a minor alteration is all that’s needed, you shouldn’t face any undue difficulties.

The Method

  • Step 1 - Flip the blazer inside out. Using a seam ripper, remove the hem and release the lining. If you plan on lengthening the sleeves, iron them from the inside out so the old hemline is smooth.
  • Step 2 - Try the blazer on for size and mark any alterations needed to the length of the sleeves with pins (pin from the inside if possible – if you pin from the outside, you’ll need to transfer them carefully to the corresponding place inside once you remove the blazer).
  • Step 3 - Using a ruler for precision, create a new straight hem around both cuffs. Insert the lining into the hem, pinning and smoothing as you work your way around. Try the jacket on to make sure both sleeves are the same length.
  • Step 4 - Sew the new hems in place by hand. To finish, iron the hems before turning the jacket right side out.

How To Alter a Blazer That is Too Small

If your blazer’s too small, don’t relegate it to the charity box just yet. Depending on how much extra material is in the seams and hems, you should be able to let it out slightly (and by slightly, we do mean slightly – if you were hoping to add several dress sizes, you’re going to have to buy a new blazer). Here’s how to do it.

The Method

  • Step 1 - Use a seam ripper to remove the stitches running up the side seams and arms. If the blazer has a back seam, do the same here.
  • Step 2 - Use a ruler to draw straight lines on the inside of the blazer to indicate where your new seams will be.
  • Step 3 - Sew along the lines you've drawn to close the seams – a sewing machine will give you the straightest line, but you can hand sew if you prefer.
  • Step 4 - Press the new seams with an iron to remove the creases left by the old seams. A clothing steamer might come in handy if you’re dealing with particularly stubborn creases.

How To Alter a Blazer Without Sewing


Maybe you’ve borrowed a blazer from a friend and can’t make any permanent alterations. Maybe you haven’t got time to drag out the sewing machine. Maybe you can’t thread a needle. Whatever the reason, there’ll be times you’ll need to alter a garment without breaking out a single stitch. And wouldn’t you know… it’s not hard to do. If you’ve got a less-than-ideal fitting blazer, these easy fixes will take care of it in a jiffy.

Hem Tape

If you’re not familiar with hem tape, where’ve you been? This double-sided adhesive is a little miracle worker, letting you perform any number of alterations (whether permanent or temporary) without once having to break into your sewing supplies. If the hem of your blazer is too long, simply fold a new hem to the required length, tuck a length of hem tape into the crease, and iron. It really is that easy. It also does a fine job of shortening too-long sleeves. Different tapes do come with slightly different methods of use, so be sure to read the instructions before you start.

Bobby Pins

If there’s one thing no home should be without, it’s a pack of bobby pins. Whether you want to crop a hem, nip in a waist, or shorten a sleeve, a few bobby pins will have you sorted in minutes. Just bear in mind they only offer a temporary fix, so you might have to consider a more permanent solution at some point or another.

Fabric Glue

If you can sew it, you can glue it… and usually, a lot quicker as well. For adjusting a hemline or shortening a sleeve, a smear of fabric glue offers a quick, easy solution. Simply create your new seam, add a dripple of glue, and press to secure. Done!

How Much Does it Cost To Alter a Blazer?

Whether it’s because you’re needle-phobic or time-strapped, you’re not always going to be able to be your own seamstress. And there’s no shame in that. After all, it’s why professional tailors were invented, right?

If you’ve decided to engage the experts, expect to pay anything between $55 – $160 for a blazer alteration. The exact amount will depend on what kind of alterations you need and where in the world you are, but as a general guide, expect to pay:

  • $60 to shorten/lengthen sleeves without buttons.
  • $150 to shorten/lengthen sleeves with functioning buttonholes
  • $65 to let out or take in side seams
  • $55 to let out or take in back seams
  • $75 to shorten the length
  • $160 to alter the shoulders

Prices do fluctuate, but if you find a tailor who’s willing to alter the entire length and breadth of a blazer for less than $30, run… at least if you value your blazer’s life.

If you like what you’ve read and know of anyone else with a troubled blazer, please do feel free to share the post!

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