Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lengthen Your Sleeves - A How To...

One of my wonderful genetic traits is long arms. I get it from my mother's father's side, and while I loved Pop dearly, it's kind of frustrating at times. My arms seem to be about 2 inches longer than "normal" so it's very hard to find sleeves that are long enough. I spend a lot of time rolling them up so I won't get irritated that they're not even coming down to my wrists. There are some tops I've found that have extra long sleeves lately, but they're not always easy to find.

{I also have really broad shoulders so trying to find shirts in most stores these days is ridiculous because apparently everyone is supposed to be a stick with no muscles or anything. Whatever.}

Back to the sleeves. This can be helped in some instances, and I'm about to show you how.

I have a fleece jacket that I like, but lo and behold the sleeves are too short:

See? Isn't that ridiculous?

I'm going to make these sleeves longer, and it won't suck.

Feel free to follow along. If you need a closer look, clicking on the pictures makes them open up slightly bigger.

I'm working with black fleece that matches my jacket, but if you want to do this with an accent/contrast instead of a match, that's entirely up to you.

You're going to need a seam ripper, your extra fabric, and your item to be lengthened. You can sew it by hand or machine. I'm kind of addicted to my serger right now, but a regular sewing machine will work just as well.

[Editor's Note: I apologize for the crappy photos, but I was doing this late at night when there is no good natural light....]

Here is the Before of the end of the sleeve, just for reference (complete with cat hair):

First step - Remove the "hem" of your sleeve cuffs. Take your seam ripper and pull out whatever crosswise seams are pulling it down.

Second Step - You're going to want to separate the lengthwise seam up the sleeve about an inch or two. The only reason I'm doing this is just to make the assembly sewing easier.

Now you'll need your fabric. I'm using black fleece to match my jacket. If you're doing the same (fleece to fleece or other stretchy fabric) make sure that you're cutting to have the stretch go ACROSS the sleeve, not up the sleeve. You need to have your fabric the same width as your opened sleeve, so if you wait to cut to size until this step, it's probably easier.

Also, I'm using a complete fold over of fabric so I don't have to make a cuff later. If you want to do that, go for it. If you want to just use enough and then hem it later, that's all up to you.

Now for the assembling....start pinning your new fabric to your opened sleeve. Make sure that you stretch either (or both) enough that your ends match and you don't have a bunch of puckering in one section.

All ready for stitching:

Now sew it up. If you're using a serger like me, you'll be on the edge, if you're on a standard machine, you'll probably want a seam allowance of 1/4 inch probably. That's up to you.

Knot/weave in your ends, however you choose to do your hanging thread housekeeping.

Ok, we've gone crosswise, now it's time to go lengthwise.

Turn your garment inside out (some of you may have done this earlier, and that's cool, too).

You can pin your edges together or just hold them, but sew up the length of the new cuff and up past the part of the original sleeve that you opened.

Your end result should look something like this:

Again, housekeep your dangling threads, and turn your item right side out again.

Double check that you don't have any holes or wonky-ness going on at the seams, and you're done!

Repeat on the other side if you haven't done so already.

So remember that ridiculous sleeve from earlier? Look at it now!

No more chilly wrists!

Let me know if it works for you, or if you've got any ideas on the process....

1 comment:

Sandra B said...

I like what you've done, but that probably wouldn't work with sleeves that have a more forml cuff that buttons, unless I cut off the original cuff. I wonder if anyone has lengthened from the top of the sleeve where it joins armhole -- maybe with contrasting fabric.