How to Easily Alter a Graduation Gown with No Sewing

This tutorial will show you how easy it is to alter a graduation gown with absolutely no sewing!

no-sew grad gown alterations

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It's graduation season and if you have a son or daughter graduating this year, you are up to your eyeballs in planning, shopping, decorating, etc. I know what it's like because I'm right there with you.

Maybe you're panicking because their grad gown isn't a perfect fit.

Keep calm mama, because I'm going to show you how easy it is to alter their graduation gown yourself.

Did I mention it's no-sew? Yep, you're going to get your iron on and get this done. Quick!

In case you're worried that this is a daunting task, let me assure you that it's much easier than I thought it would be! Don't pay someone else to alter your child's graduation gown because you can totally do this yourself! Save your money for all the other expenses!

My second son is graduating from high school in a few days, and as his thrifty mother, I decided not to dish out the $60+ for his own gown/cap but to recycle his older brother's items from 2 years ago.

Here's the thing. Big bro is 6'2" and the graduate is about 5'9". That's a big difference in height!

The whole reason I wrote today's post is because when I googled 'how to easily alter a graduation gown', the only search results involved sewing.

While I do know how to sew, the difference in my boy's heights meant that this was going to be a deep hem and I didn't want to have stitch marks hovering around my son's knees! Not too classy! Plus, I wanted something that was quicker!

I needed a 'no-sew' method and this is the easiest, no-sew way to alter a grad gown.


Even if you're years away from a graduation in your home, make sure to PIN THIS IMAGE for easy reference in the future!
easy no-sew graduation gown alterations
First things first. Have your grad try on the gown (zip it up) so that you can see where the hem should be. Mark this spot with a pin. Don't forget to do the same with the sleeves!

grad gown alterations
In my son's case, he needed about 9-1/2 inches taken off the length, as well as a couple inches off the sleeve ends.



So the reason this project is no-sew is because of the magic of Stitch Witchery, a fusible bonding product that essentially 'glues' the fabric together. 

I like the totally suits what this product does!

Steps to alter a graduation gown with no sewing

Set up your ironing board and start heating your iron. It should be set for the fabric type of your gown. Mine didn't have a label, so I set it low, for Nylon/Rayon.

We do NOT want to burn a hole in the gown! Start low, you can always increase the heat!

iron hem

Turn the gown inside out and slide it onto the board (zipper should be done up).

Use the pin that you marked earlier as a guide to where you want your hem to be. Measure the width so you can stay consistent as you move around the gown. Go all the way around the gown, measuring and pinning as you go.

measure and pin

Iron the fold flat all the way around, keeping the pins in place.

iron hem flat

Now it's time to 'magically stitch' the open end.

First you need to change the settings on your iron. The instructions say to set it to WOOL. You also want to add water and set it to the highest steam setting. And finally, have a press cloth (or damp towel) nearby.

Remove a few pins and fold the edge of the gown back an inch or so. Lay the Stitch Witchery down, very lightly pinning it in place.

If you read the instructions, it says to hold the iron over the stitch witchery and steam it. I tried this step, but nothing really happened, so I simply skipped it!

stitch witchery

I placed the gown edge carefully over the Stitch Witchery, holding it in place, then placed the damp towel over the top and set my iron on top for 10 seconds, like the directions say. Do not move the iron.

use stitch witchery for no-sew alterations

Check to make sure it adhered before moving on to the next section.

easy no-sew grad gown alterations

And that it is! Continue on around the gown until all the edges have been closed.

If you want, you can even seal the sides of the hems. Totally optional, but it adds a more polished look to the grad gown.

no-sew grad gown alterations

You do the sleeve hems in the very same manner. Please ignore my feet {wink, smile}! Can I just put a quick plug in to L.L.Bean for these amazing slippers! My fave slippers ever! They're a little on the pricey side, but the quality is top notch and they're incredibly comfortable!

hem sleeeves

And just like that you have an altered graduation gown! 

The beauty of using this no-sew method to alter the gown is that if you ever need to reverse it, you can! 

To remove Stitch Witchery from fabric, place a piece of scrap fabric on the unwanted residue, and then apply a hot iron on the scrap fabric for 10 seconds. Although it is made to be permanent, unwanted Stitch Witchery can sometimes be removed using another piece of fabric and a heating element.

easy grad gown alterations

I hope this was helpful!

bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. Interesting.... Sounds easy enough, but what if the gown is bigger around and I need it 3x smaller....?¿?¿?¿?

    1. There might be a long seam down the back that you could take in.

  2. Is there a way to make the sleeves to where they are not so baggy in width?

    1. Thomas, grad gown sleeves are meant to be really baggy. I suppose you could undo the seam and using the method above, decrease the size. It will be tricky to have it line up properly where it meets the gown though, under the arms. Someone familiar with a sewing machine could make it work!

  3. Thank you SOOO much. Due to scarring on her lower legs, my DD wanted one that went to her ankles. That was fine, but it didn't get done earlier (so much for planning) and now we have a funeral right in the middle of graduation and formal week. This post was a lifesaver- I don't think I could take it if I ruined the gown. I wanted to see that someone had used fusible hem tape and survived before I invested the time and nerves.
    Bless you!

  4. Thank you! I can take the side seams in to reduce the width the same way, right? How long will it hold?

    1. Yes, that would work! The product holds indefinitely!


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