Shortening Long Sleeves

Are the sleeves on your shirts too long?

Shortening sleeves is a quick alteration.

This technique will work for mens or ladies shirts that have cuffs on them.

Let me show you what I did on this purple shirt:

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There are two rows of stitching on the top edge of the cuff

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It’s a little hard to see in that photo, but you have seen them on your own shirts.

I flipped the cuff over to look at the underside of it.

It only has one row of stitching.

I began by removing that row of stitching with my seam ripper.

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(You might have to remove two rows of stitching on your shirt. In that case, later on, you’ll stitch it back on with two rows instead of one.)

Take off one cuff at a time so you don’t get confused as to which cuff goes back on which sleeve.

This customer wanted the sleeves raised 1 5/8″.

So, that’s how much I cut off from the cut edge of the sleeve:

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Continue cutting off the correct amount. When you get around to the other side of the cuff, make sure that the two edges match in length before you cut the rest off. Otherwise you’ll have unevenness.

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The original seam allowance was 3/8″ on this shirt.

You don’t have to do this next step, but I do it because it makes the job easier.

I hand baste a line just above that 3/8″ mark.

This allows me to line the cuff up easily before I stitch it back on.

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Pin the cuff to the shirt.

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When you pin, start by pinning the buttonhole end of the cuff first. That way, any adjustments you have to make are on the underside of the sleeve and won’t show.

When you get around to the button end of the cuff, you will most likely have extra fabric that doesn’t fit into the cuff. (On the other hand, in very rare instances, you might come up short and not have enough shirt fabric to fit into the cuff. If that is true in your case, let out one of the tucks (or pleats) and that will give you some extra fabric.)

The photo below shows that I had more fabric than I needed.

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Just make an extra tuck (or pleat) by playing with the fabric until it matches the other ones, or until it looks nice and pin it.

In the photo below, the new tuck is above the middle pin:

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Check to make sure that the tucks look good from the top and underneath. Sometimes those tucks get twisted and then stitched down and that doesn’t  look good if you roll up your sleeves.

Stitch the cuff in place following the holes made by the original stitches.

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That didn’t take long, did it?

It’ll take you just a few minutes to alter those long shirts in your closet and they’ll feel better when they hang at the proper length on your wrist!