Shortening your pattern sleeves isn’t that complicated but it does take a little bit of know how. Here’s my best tips on shortening, it’s easier than you think!
We have all been there. You work so hard on a sewing project, only to discover too late that the sleeves are too long. Chopping off the end of the sleeve and re-hemming does not work in most circumstances because sleeves are not perfect rectangles. It’s easy to shorten them at the beginning of the sewing process. Even before you cut! Here’s how!
Shorten Pattern Sleeves the Right Way
- The first step is to be certain how much the sleeves need to be shortened. The best way to do this is to use the measurement from the center back neck, to the wrist. This is not included on pattern envelopes, it used to be on there but for some reason they don’t have it on there any more. Take your own measurement, or have someone else do it for you.
- Next, line up your back pattern and the sleeve pattern pieces. Overlap the seam allowances (so they are not included in the measurement), then measure the pattern from center back, across the shoulder to the sleeve hem. Do not include the hem as you measure.
- Compare the two measurements to find the amount needed. For example, if my pattern measurement is 30″ and my center back neck to wrist measurement is 28″ I need to shorten the sleeve length by 2″. ( 30″-28″=2″)
- Add wearing ease. Generally speaking you want to have ease of at least 1″. You can add more if you wish, but no less. As your arm bends you need extra fabric to compensate for the movement, so it’s important to have enough wearing ease or your garment will be uncomfortable and too short in the sleeves.
Sound complicated? It’s really not. Here’s a video tutorial:
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