Friday, August 26, 2011

Shortening a shirt sleeve -- starring Matt

With Matt as a model and wearing a shirt from his closet, I turned the above shirt from a plaid American Eagle long sleeved button up (actually snaps) to a much better looking short sleeved shirt with a permanent cuff. Matt was pleased with the result. This is really easy and a great project for beginners!

Matt came over the Saturday night before we headed to Still Water for a few beers with friends. He wore this plaid shirt that he's had for years. He mentioned he didn't like the fit and that it looked too big on him. Plus he always folded the sleeves to 3/4 length, so I thought it would be better short sleeved. And with a girlfriend that sews, this was a quick fix for sure.

You will need:
  • shirt
  • scissors
  • seam gauge
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron and ironing board
The night we went out I just took it in an inch on each side seam but waited to shorten the sleeves until this week. Don't forget, when taking in side seams on shirts like this, rip out a 5 inch section of the bottom hem on the shirt, take it in, cut excess fabric, then sew the hem. It creates a much cleaner finish!


Cut off sleeve. I cut about 8" from the bottom of the armpit. Since I'm sewing a permanent cuff, you want extra fabric. Mark where you want the sleeve to end and cut about 4 inches below that. Remember you can always cut off more fabric if it's too long but you can't add that fabric back once it's gone!

Zeus got a new toy with the sleeve tied into a knot. I was sure to cut off the snaps since he shreds everything and isn't too bright sometimes. Didn't want him ingesting metal snaps on my watch. I'd be a bad dogsitter if I let that happen!


Iron a 3/4 fold at the raw edge, folding it inward.

Fold in three more inches and press again.

This is confusing to word but I'll do my best. Take the outermost pressed edge and fold it on the outside of the sleeve with 1 1/4" overhang. There will still be extra fabric on the inside of the sleeve. This is what the machine will grab and so that the sleeve will have some stability and weight.


Sew about 3/4" from the edge of the sleeve. Because the sleeve tapers as if gets closer to the hand and you are folding this fabric up higher, you will have to gather the fabric a bit at the base of the sleeve. I like to gather the fabric at the seam on the backside of the shirt so it isn't visible.

Such a handsome shirt, huh? 


And a handsome man in his new shirt. This button up is much better for Georgia with it's new sleeve length. And Matt is pleased. This is so easy and it's incredible how much of a difference is makes shortening something like a sleeve or taking it in just an inch or two. 

Ladies, get your boyfriend to be your dressform / model and try altering some of his shirts! It's so much fun and a great way to get him interested in sewing as well. And a great project to do as a couple. Well, he'd probably just watch, but still. 

Questions? Comments!

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