How To Tailor Tops To Fit a Tall Body

Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

If you are tall like me, you know how hard it can be to find tops that fit right. If they fit around the chest, they tend to be too short, and if they have the correct length, they are two sizes to big around the bust. This is when knowing how to tailor a top in a quick and easy way comes in handy!

I bought this top at half off in the sales at Gina Tricot. Initially, I tried it in my size, but felt it was too short. Then I tried a size 44 and liked the length, only it was too wide, especially in the arm holes. I bought the top anyway and decided to tailor it to fit my body: As I have broader shoulder than most shorter women, the sides are often where I need to tailor my tops in order to make them fit my torso and not flare out like pregnancy tops.

Hopefully, you’ll find these instructions helpful and easy to follow!


Safety pins (so you don’t hurt yourself)

Measuring tape

Sewing chalk

Contrasting colour thread and needle

Sewing machine

Thread to match the top


Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

1. Iron the top, if necessary, and turn it inside out. Put the top on and take the top in to the correct width along the sides by using the safety pins. The two most important places to get the width correct is by the arm hole and at the bottom.

Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

2. Remove the top. Now you know roughly how much to take the top in and you can place the safety pins evenly in a line from top to bottom to indicate where the seam is going to go — using measuring tape and a marker will help get the two sides even. Turn the top right side out and put it back on. Check that the top has the desired shape. If it’s too tight/loose, move the safety pins out/in to get the perfect fit.

Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

3. Now it’s time to thread the needle with contrasting thread and sew basting stitches along the line of the safety pins. Don’t fasten the thread too tightly at either end, as you’ll want to remove it again soon. (I baste in place of using sewing pins as the results are invariably better, especially if you are working with viscose, like I did).

4. Thread the sewing machine with the same colour thread as the top and using straight stitches, sew just beside the basting stitches from top to bottom, remembering to fasten the thread at either end (go back and forth a couple of times). Dont’ worry if the seam isn’t completely straight — nobody will see what’s going on on the inside of the garment.

Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

5. If you have a fragile fabric like mine that easily frays (and unless you have a serger), sew another straight seam about 0,5 cm outside the first seam (towards the selvage). Cut along this seam and remove excess fabric. Using zigzag stitches, sew twice along the outer edge of the sides (over the outer straight stitches) to create a new selvage to ensure that the top doesn’t unravel in the wash.

If your fabric is more sturdy (eg a thicker cotton) you can cut the excess fabric off about 0,8 cm from the side seam and sew two seams of zigzag stitches across the edge to create a selvage. Be careful not to stretch the fabric when you sew so it fans out along the selvage — if you are afraid that you are going to do this, use the failsafe method above.

Remove the basting thread and trim all thread ends.

Now your new top should fit you perfectly!

Tall girl's fashion // How to tailor a top

Gina Tricot tailored white top and black coated jeans // Mulberry studded leather bracelet // Next2 white/golden watch // Snø of Sweden golden earrings

Editor’s note: Please let me know in the comments section if you would like me to post more DIYs on how to tailor garments in order to fit your body better. Since we don’t have tall lines here in Norway, I frequently tailor my non-tall clothes to suit my six feet/183 cm frame.

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  • Wow! This post makes me want to take a basic sewing class and sprint out of the house to find a sewing machine. The before and after fit of the top is like night and day. I personally would love to see more posts like this. Tall ladies have to get as creative as possible to make clothing work on our long frames!

    • Anett

      I’m so glad you like the post! A new DIY post is planned for tomorrow, this time covering trousers. I have to admit that the sewing machine and I are not the best of friends, but I can do simple things like this. Admittedly, I could probably do more complicated things as well, but I just don’t enjoy it. I’m happier with knitting needles or a crochet hook. And I’m sure you could alter a top as well, if you just follow my instructions — all the seams as straight and you only use regular and zigzag stitches! xoxo Anett

  • Great DIY!! I definitely would like to see more DIY tall-tailoring since we cannot often afford tall clothes or there isn’t enough offer to cover our needs. I’ve seen some thermo adhesive strips that can replace the sewing machine for an urgency.
    Have a great week!

    Paty @antesAltaquesinsilla.blogspot.com

    • Anett

      Thanks for letting me know about those adhesive strips, Paty! We don’t have any tall lines in Norway at all, which is weird considering how tall we are, but most Scandinavian brands luckily fit pretty long. I still have to tailor certain items to make them fit, though, so I’ll make a series of these posts. The next one is coming up next week! xoxo Anett

  • Brilliant! I’m tall and I often have this problem as I am also slightly broader and have a larger chest. I’ve also only recently started sewing and I had never thought about this. I definitely have a couple of tops I’d like to try this with, alhtough one has sleeves so may prove a little tricky. Yes please to more DIY.

    • Anett

      I’m glad you found the post helpful, Merry! While you won’t be able to change the width across the shoulders of the sleeved top without removing the sleeves — and be a skilled tailor! — you can easily change the width from the armholes and down to make it narrower at the bottom or more hourglass shape. I’m not really a big sewer (I love knitting, crocheting and embroidery), but I can use the sewing machine to do simple things like this. I’d do anything to make clothes that I like work for me! 😉 xoxo Anett