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How to Alter a Suit Jacket (Sewing Video Lessons)

Check out this simple how-to guide on DIY suit jacket alterations, and youll look sleek without ever paying for a tailor again!

Updated October 01, 2018
How to Alter a Suit Jacket Sewing Video Lessons

A suit jacket is the height of professional business wear. Sleek, trim, and simple, this garment immediately gives its wearer a cutting edge. However, this chic, white-collar look can be ruined when your suit jacket doesn’t fit properly. Slouchy shoulders, bunching tummies, and cavernous sleeves can turn your sophisticated get-up into an unflattering fashion faux pas.

Don’t despair! You don’t need to spend a fortune getting your suit jackets tailored. With this 5-part video series, filmed with sewist Mary Beth Temple, you’ll learn how to tailor a suit jacket yourself. These videos will show you every step of the tailoring process, so even if you’re new to refitting clothes, you’re sure to excel!

Learn how to identify the problem areas on a suit jacket and how a few hours and the sewing machine can solve them for good. You’ll be able to tighten the bodice, shorten the sleeves, and modify the hem of a suit jacket after watching these quick tutorials. Finally, you’ll see first-hand the drastic difference these easy DIY alterations can make.

Give yourself a suit jacket that will make you feel confident enough to take on any interview, presentation, or day at the office by following these simple, step-by-step video tutorials. When you can have million-dollar formalwear at no extra cost, why settle for anything less?


This tutorial was created by professional sewist Mary Beth Temple. To see more of her work, check out her designer profile here: Mary Beth Temple. Be sure to subscribe to AllFreeSewing's newsletter, Sewing It Up, for more projects and tutorials like this.
 
 

How to Alter a Suit Jacket

How to Alter a Suit Jacket: Introduction

This introductory video shows you where a suit jacket alteration begins: identifying problem areas and outlining a plan to fix them! Mary Beth Temple explains the differences between an ill-fitting suit jacket and a properly fitting jacket, and she shows the difference on her model, Erin. The main areas identified are the bodice tightness, the sleeve length, and the hem length.

Watch this video if you…
-are curious about the benefits of tailoring clothes.
-want to know what to expect from the following sewing tutorials.
-want a visual demonstration of the areas where the fit of a suit jacket can be improved.

In this video, you will learn…
-how to identify an ill-fitting suit jacket in each of the zones where a suit jacket can be modified.
-the proper way a suit jacket should fit a person.
-the pinning technique used to mark where alterations should be made on a suit jacket.

Video Quote:
"The first thing I want to point out for when you're shopping: Pick something that fits the most difficult to fit part of your body. Pick something that fits the biggest part of your body. Because, if it fits there, taking in is always easier than letting out."
 

How to Alter a Suit Jacket: Part 1

This first alteration video shows you how to alter the basic fit of a jacket through the centerline of the bodice. When a suit jacket is too loose, it can make your body look bulkier, less defined, and more wrinkled. However, Mary Beth shows how a few well-placed pins, readjusted lining, and a new center stitch can drastically improve the fit of a suit jacket.

Watch this video if you…
-want to have a more snug fit around your bodice with your suit jacket.
-have a suit jacket with shoulders that hang too far out beyond your natural shoulder end.
-want to learn how to use pins to prepare a garment for accurate tailoring.

In this video, you will learn…
-how to alter the bodice fit of a suit jacket by tightening the center back of the jacket.
-how to use pins to mark the desired torso fit of a suit jacket.
-how to separate the lining from the outside fabric of the jacket.

Video Quote:
"I'm going to turn the jacket inside out. I am going to take my tailor's chalk and I am going to mark where the pins are. Not on the seam allowance but on the fashion fabric. So I am going to mark where the pins were folding. And I am going to do that on both sides. Going back to the outside, I am going to pop the pins off. I don't need them anymore because I have the marks."
 

How to Alter a Suit Jacket: Part 2

In this next video part, Mary Beth demonstrates how to hem a sleeve that is too long. Making sure that she covers every tailoring scenario, she explains how to hem sleeves that have decorative buttons, as well as how cross stitching by hand is a necessary part of the tailoring process. Using pins, a ruler, and basic sewing supplies, Mary Beth sews up the sleeves so that they will end right at Erin’s wrists.

Watch this video if you…
-have a suit jacket with sleeves that extend beyond your wrists.
-would like to achieve a cropped sleeve look in your suit jacket.
-want to know where a sleeve should naturally end on a well-tailored suit jacket.

In this video, you will learn…
-how to shorten the sleeves of a suit jacket.
-how to remove sleeve buttons in order to alter the sleeve.
-how to cross stitch by hand for hemming purposes.

Video Quote:
"Let's talk about this sleeve. In order to shorten this sleeve, we have to deal with these buttons and the buttonholes. That is not a practical buttonhole, it is a decorative buttonhole. It's not cut, the buttons don't go through it. They're just sewn right on top. On some suit jackets, the decorative buttonholes are wildly contrasting threads. If that's the case, then you literally have to make fake buttonholes farther up the jacket when you want to shorten it."
 

How to Alter a Suit Jacket: Part 3

This final tutorial in the tailoring series shows you how to hem the bottom of a suit jacket so that it ends right above your hips. Mary Beth walks you through the process of removing and reattaching patch pockets so that they keep a proportional position on the suit jacket. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to use either your hands or your sewing machine to shorten a suit jacket.

Watch this video if you…
-have a suit jacket that hangs too low.
-do not like where your patch pockets sit on your suit jacket.
-are curious about the difference between hemming by hand and hemming by sewing machine.

In this video, you will learn…
-how to remove and reattach a patch pocket.
-how to hem a jacket to the correct length while keeping the natural curve in the jacket edge.
-how to adjust the lining of a suit jacket.

Video Quote:
"I have to keep an eye on the proportions of the garment as a whole. For the patch pocket, it was originally right on the hemline. I don't want to move it up two inches because I think that's a little to close to the buttons and the armhole. So what I am going to do is move it up one inch and I am going to sew the top down. Then before I sew it all down, I am going to fold the patch pocket back an inch."
 

How to Alter a Suit Jacket: Jacket Reveal

The moment you’ve been waiting for: the jacket reveal! In this video, Mary Beth shows the final suit jacket after undergoing her alterations. She points out all of the improvements and discusses how each of the tailoring techniques contributes to the final look, including a tightened torso, shortened sleeves, and a shorter hem. Erin models this final tailored suit jacket to show what a good-fitting suit jacket should look like.

Watch this video if you…
-want to see how hemming a suit jacket can drastically improve its fit.
-want to learn how each of the tailoring processes contributes to the final fit of a suit jacket.
-want to model your suit jacket tailoring after a finalized look.

In this video, you will learn…
-what a properly tailored suit jacket looks like.
-how each tailored element affects the fit of the suit jacket.
-how every suit jacket, regardless of its original fit, has potential.

Video Quote:
"We talked about underarm shaping but now that the jacket fits her everywhere else, we didn't need to do it. It's one of those things - if you take it a step at a time, do each piece the way it needs to be done, then try it on and see what you've got."
 

What other clothes do you prefer to tailor yourself?
Let us know in the comment section below.

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