How to Alter a Coat That Is Too Big or Small (Easy Tips)

While a nice, perfectly-fitted coat can make your entire look, an ill-fitting coat, no matter how stylish or beautiful the design, can make you look unkempt and unattractive. Your coat may be too big or too small for you, but fortunately, there are ways you can alter the size to make it fit you perfectly.

So, how can you alter your coat? There is no one right answer to this question because it depends on how the coat fits you, whether it’s the shoulders you need to alter, or the sleeves, the length, the chest area, or any other part.

Since a coat is a garment that has a complex structure including inner lining, padding, collars, many seams and more, resizing it if you do not have plenty of tailoring or sewing experience may be quite a challenge for you, so it may be best to take it to a tailor.

Can You Alter a Coat to Make it Smaller?


One of the most common reasons for alteration is that the coat is too big and doesn’t fit you well. Altering a coat to make it smaller is not an easy task, and whether it can be done or not depends on how and where you want to alter it.

For instance, if only a part of the coat, such as the sleeves, is too big for you, altering it is relatively easy. As such, shortening the length or altering the collars can also be done. However, if you want to alter your coat a full size, that is, if you want to go an entire size(s) up or down, it is likely that no tailor will take it up.

This is because the entire coat will have to be taken apart and sewn again almost from scratch, which is way too much work and, honestly, very risky. Such huge alterations can impact smaller design elements such as the placement of the pockets, the buttonholes, and so on. Moreover, even if you find a tailor who is willing to do it for you, it is going to cost you a lot of money.

How to Alter a Coat that is Too Big

If you wish to alter a coat that is too big for you, this is one of the easiest ways to do so. First, find a place where you will be able to open up the lining of your coat. Generally, people open up the lining along the side seams as well as the bottom of the coat.

Turn the coat inside out, button it up. Increase the seam allowances and pin it up around the midsection and anywhere else where you can find an existing seam. After this, sew up the seams as well as the lining carefully. You now have yourself a smaller coat.

Can You Alter a Coat to Make it Bigger?

Altering a coat to make it look bigger is not a simple project to take up. While it is not impossible, doing it yourself at home, especially if you don’t know how to work well with needle and thread and sewing machines, can be a little risky.

A coat is a structured garment that has linings, paddings, and stiffening inside it, which is why undoing the stitching and sewing it back together to alter the size is not simple. It’s best to take it to a tailor, but if you can do it yourself at home too if you don’t want to spend money or can’t find a tailor willing to take up the work.

How to Alter a Coat That's Too Small


If you wish to alter a coat that is too small and make it bigger, you can do so by letting out some of the fabric in the coat’s seams. How much bigger you can go depends on the amount of fabric that you have after you undo the stitching. Usually, you won’t get much extra fabric, about an inch or so from the seams, which means you can’t make dramatic changes.

If your coat does not fit you well and is slightly too big, even adding just ½ inch on both sides means that you can bring up the width of the coat by an inch. This may not seem like much, but it makes a lot of difference when you wear it. Your coat will be much more comfortable and better-fitting.

Alter a Coat With Lining

To shorten a coat with lining, first, you need to determine the new length that you want and mark the new line using chalk at the bottom. Then, step back 3 cm below the top and cut off the fabric along with the inner lining. Remember to leave a 3 cm allowance for your coat hem.

Along the drawn line, fold the bottom of the jacket and iron it carefully so that it stays folded. Turn the coat inside out and steam the lining seam at 10 cm (or shorter or longer depending on the desired coat length).

Then, from the inside, sew the lining fabric to the top of the bottom line. At the level of anchoring the bottom side seams with sewn lining, sew by hand. Through a hole in the coat lining, turn out on the front side. Sew up the hole in the seam padding and iron the bottom of the coat. Your coat is shortened.

Alter Coat Sleeve Length

If you want to alter your coat sleeve length because they are too long for you, you would be glad to hear that it is a fairly easy process you can do yourself. All you need are basic sewing skills and a needle and thread or sewing machine.

  • First, put on your jacket so that you can accurately determine the desired sleeve length. Identify where you want the sleeves to fall and mark that spot all around the sleeves using chalk. A useful tip is to use a ruler to get a straight line.
  • Next, you need to identify where you are going to cut your sleeves. Remember that you have to leave room for the seam allowance, so measure about 2 inches (going towards the end of the coat sleeve) from the first line you marked. Mark this spot in a few places around the sleeve using chalk.
  • ​Using a seam ripper, take out the stitching of the sleeves along the seam as well as the hem. Now that the sleeve lining is detached from the fabric, slide the lining fabric up the inside of the sleeve so that you don’t cut it when you cut the fabric.
  • ​Now, take a pair of scissors and cut along the second line that you have marked. After this, pull the lining fabric back down and cut it along the new length of the sleeve. It is important to cut the lining and the fabric separately because cutting them both at the same time can affect the fit of your coat.
  • ​Carefully fold the outer fabric 2 inches towards the inside of the sleeves, over the lining fabric. Place several pins around the folded sleeve to hold it in place.
  • ​Using a thread that matches the color of the sleeves, sew all the way around the edge of the sleeves, at about 1.2 inches from the folded edge, removing the pins as you stitch along.
  • Your new sleeves are ready once you finish sewing.

How to Take in Coat Shoulders


The shoulders of a coat are perhaps the most structured part of the entire garment, and thus, altering them can be extremely risky. Moreover, it is not guaranteed that after the alterations, you will see the exact results you want, nor can a tailor promise that the integrity of the coat will be maintained.

While changing the width of the shoulders is not recommended, it is possible to change the pad levels. Not all body types suit padded shoulders, and you can ask your tailor to remove them. However, this means that the structure and appearance of the coat will change too.

Alter Coat Length


The length of a coat can only be shortened and not lengthened. So, if you see a coat that you absolutely love in the store, but it’s just too short for you, don’t buy it thinking that you can have the length altered because you will be disappointed.

If the length of your coat is too long for you, it can be shortened easily. However, shortening your coat length is recommended only if there is little work to be done. This is because if you shorten your coat way too much, even if there is plenty of extra material after undoing the seams, it can throw off the balance of the design since the spacing of the buttonholes and the pockets cannot be changed.

Especially when it comes to men’s coats and blazers, they have intricate details that will seriously affect the symmetry of the coat or blazer if you alter the length too much. And nobody wants a coat that fits well but looks like it has been designed and sewn very poorly.

Shorten Coat Length

If you want to shorten your coat length, make sure that you take it to a tailor. Some tailors even discourage shortening coat lengths since it affects where the pockets sit. But if your tailor says he can do it, or if you are doing it by yourself at home, make sure that you shorten it by no more than an inch.

How to Alter a Coat Collar

The collar is one of the most defining elements of a coat. If you want to alter your collar, it’s best to take it to an experienced tailor. In most cases, people want to alter their coat collar because it’s too big for their liking. Reducing the size of the coat collar involves removing the collar fabric, sewing a larger sea, carefully creating a dart in the fabric of the coat, and then reattaching the collar to the coat.

Can You Alter Trench Coats?


If you have a trench coat that is too large or tight for you, you don’t need to give it away because they can be altered. First, see if you can move the buttons. However, don’t move the buttons too far from their original positions as this can throw off the balance of the design. As a rule of thumb, buttons aren’t usually moved more than three-eighths of an inch.

If not, check the side seams to see if there is enough allowance. If the trench coat is too big for you, you can take the seams in, and if it’s too small, the seams can be let out. You can also reduce or increase the size of the darts to alter trench coats.

How to Alter a Wool Coat

If you wish to alter a wool coat, you need some amount of sewing experience. Wool coats are heavy and thick, and they are not an easy material to work with. If you are altering your wool coat on your own, you have to first determine where you need to make changes.

Are the sleeves too big or long? Do you wish to alter the length of the coat? Or maybe you need to adjust it a full size, which would be very time-consuming and, honestly, is not recommended if you don’t have much sewing experience.

If you want to alter the sleeves, follow the same steps as outlined under “Alter coat sleeve length.” If you wish to alter the length, the steps involved are the same as “Alter coat length.”

Can you Alter Sport Coat?

Sport coats can be altered too if you are not satisfied with how it fits you. Like suit coats, sport coats are structured heavily around the shoulders, which can make alterations involving the shoulders a little difficult. For this reason, it is imperative that a sport coat is altered by an excellent tailor.

How Much Does it Cost to Alter a Coat?

The cost of altering a coat differs depending on how much alteration is required. For instance, only shortening the sleeves will be much cheaper than adjusting the entire width of the coat to make it fit better on you.

Moreover, coats with lining will cost more to alter than those without lining.

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