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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!