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How to take up the shoulder seams in a lined dress

A lined dress is a tailored garment that needs to fit perfectly in order to get the full effect of the high quality of craftsmanship put into its creation. If you have a lined dress that fits pretty well, but seems to have armholes that are too big or needs to be taken up in the shoulders, you can remedy this problem fairly easily without compromising the tailored look. The key is to undo the current stitching very carefully and then to resew the seams after you alter the shoulders. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can do this with ease.

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  1. Put on the dress and stand in front of a mirror. Pinch the shoulders to the desired adjustment. Place a pin in each pinched shoulder seam to hold it in place. Check your adjustment in the mirror to be sure it is correct.

  2. Take off the dress and turn it inside out.

  3. Mark the lining on both sides of the pins. This mark will be where you will make the new seam later. Take the pins out.

  4. Rip open the shoulder seam of the lining plus about 3 inches down the armhole seams using the seam ripper. Be careful to catch only seam stitches in the point of the seam ripper and not any of the threads of the fabric.

  5. Mark the point on the dress where you need to make new shoulder seams by folding back the lining and matching the marked points on the lining with the same point on the dress.

  6. Pull the lining down and out of the way of the dress. You may want to pin it down to the dress to hold it out of the way as you work.

  7. Rip open the shoulder seams of the dress plus about 3 inches down the armhole seams using the seam ripper.

  8. Match the marked points on the dress and pin the shoulder pieces of the dress together. Machine stitch.

  9. Trim away excess fabric. Press the seam open.

  10. Match the marked points on the lining and pin the shoulder pieces of the lining together. Machine stitch.

  11. Trim away excess fabric.

  12. Open both the lining shoulder seam and the dress shoulder seam and pin the two together. Pin the lining and the dress together around the armhole as well.

  13. Slip stitch the lining to the dress.

  14. Tip

    Watch the video in the Reference section to learn how to do the slip stitch.


    Be careful when you use the seam ripper to wedge the point of the seam ripper between two stitches in the seam and gently break the stitch with the blade of the seam ripper. Once you get started, it is easier to rip the rest of the seam without ripping the fabric.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric marker
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Ironing board and iron

About the Author

River Lin

River Lin is an independent writer and consultant. With a Master's degree in teaching English as a second language from Ball State University. She lived in Japan for 15 years teaching and editing. Now based in the US, she works for a variety of clients. Published work can be found in print and online at various websites and goarticles.com.

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