Shortening Long Sleeves

Are the sleeves on your shirts too long?

Shortening sleeves is a quick alteration.

This technique will work for men’s or ladies shirts that have cuffs on them.

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

long sleeve shirt, shorten sleeves, 652

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

close up of cuff button, shorten sleeves, 653

It’s a little hard to see in that photo above, 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 on the underside.

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

rip out cuff seam, shorten sleeves, 654

(You might have to remove two rows of stitching on your shirt. In that case, later on, you’ll stitch the cuff 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:

trim off excess, shorten sleeves, 656

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.

trimming off excess fabric, shorten sleeves, 657

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.

basting line, shortening sleeves, 658

Pin the cuff to the shirt.

pin shirt to cuff, shortening sleeves, 659

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. (However, 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. (The reason you have extra fabric is that the sleeve is wider in circumference as you move up the sleeve. Down by the cuff, it is more narrow.)

I have too much fabric, need to make pleats at cuff, 660

Just make an extra tuck (or pleat) with that extra fabric. Make sure it is the same width and size as the other pleats. Make it just the right size to fit back into the cuff.

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

pinning with new pleats at cuff, shortening sleeves, 661

Adding a pleat will make it fit right in with the original design of the shirt. No one will suspect that you added it.

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 stitching over the holes made by the original stitches.

stitching the cuff back on, shortening long sleeves, 662

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!