Altering a Toddler Dance Recital Dress

I have been asked to help adjust a dance recital dress for a toddler. She is three years old and the size 6 dress ordered for her was the largest size available. It is too small particularly in the torso and sleeves. The skirt I think will be OK.


Here is what it looks like. The top is pink satin with a Peter Pan collar. It buttons in the back to the waist. It has short puffy sleeves with elastic edging. The skirt sits at the natural waist and has multilayers of underskirts. The main outer layer is cotton. I measured the child in the dress and we need additional inches across the back and in the sleeves.

I would love to make these adjustments without too much cutting. I was thinking I may be able to add a piece of satin (maybe with some spandex?) to the back between the buttons and the buttonholes and then open the seams of the puffy sleeves and add some extra fabric to enlarge the area around the arm and armpit. Or maybe opening the sides of the top and inserting stretchy fabric all the way from the sleeve to the waist and leaving the back area as is; that is, leaving the buttons alone. Any other ideas out there? Thank you so much for any help!


By Joanieb from NY

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April 5, 20120 found this helpful

I don't see how a size 6 dress can be too small for a three year old. My daughters and grandkids were all large for their ages, but never had that problem. In fact my Mother always said all four of her kids were large for their age, but never to the point that a size 6 dress would be too small for a three year old.

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April 5, 20120 found this helpful

Also aren't all of the dancer's dresses supposed to be identical. Any alterations that you make will have to be done so that they aren't noticeable.

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April 9, 20120 found this helpful

Obviously a factory error in the sizing, and it happens more often than people think.


You're on the right track, I think; you could probably get away with creating an extension panel with buttonholes in the width you need across the back. Button the panel to the existing buttons, and seam it to the other side.

You'll have to work it in at the waistline no matter what you do-you may have to unpick the waist and reattach it to the newly expanded bodice.

Would 'cutting in' large panels under the arms all the way down the entire garment work to add enough in the sleeves and back? (I did this to enlarge a gorgeous wool and cashmere charity shop overcoat two sizes too small-worked a treat and looked perfect)

Good luck, post pics if you can of the altered garment so we can learn from what you did, please?

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