Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Handmade Shirt: How to Sew Sleeves

I've been wanting to sew a shirt for a while and I finally did! You should try it too. I was really happy that it worked since I didn't use a pattern. Mostly I was worried about sewing the sleeves. I've never made a shirt or anything with sleeves & heard they are really hard. After seeing this article and a tip from my friend I gained the confidence I needed to give it a try.

I think it turned out pretty well for my first shirt. Here are the tips I used for sewing the sleeves. I still have a lot to learn but here's a start...

1. Use a sleeve pattern: Don't try drafting your own sleeve. I got that tip from here. Since I didn't have a sleeve pattern, I cut the sleeve off an old button up shirt I had already chopped up for this banner.

2. Sew in the right order: My friend Wendy gave me this tip. I'm really glad she did! I would have never guessed that you sew the curve of the sleeve to the arm of your shirt first. Then sew under the arm and down the side of the shirt.

3. Use the right sleeve shape: I wanted my sleeves to have a little gather but didn't realize I needed to adjust my sleeve shape for this. Because of this my sleeves are a little tight. This article is great at explaining how to make different sleeve shapes.

A few more things I will do differently next time...

1. Take a before picture: I didn't take a picture of this old maternity dress that got handed-down to me. That is what I started from. It was nice because I didn't have to hem the bottom. I also ended up using the buttons & tie from it.

2. Taper your shirt from top to bottom: Mine ended up kind of bunchy under the arms because I just went straight down.

3. Scoop the neck: I tried to make the neck scoop a little in the front but it wasn't enough. It looked pretty funny so I cut it open and added the buttons from the old dress.

4. Add a tie: A wrap around the waist will help make your shirt look more fitted.

Now that I've overcome my fear of sleeves, next up is buttons and button holes...


  1. This is great! Sleeves kind of scare me so I'm pinning this.. I need all the encouragement I can get! Your shirt turned out so nice.

    1. Thanks, Janny! I was kind of surprised it worked out. It took me probably 4 hours but I learned a lot! You should definitely try it.

  2. That looks awesome! High five :)


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