Learn how to shorten sleeves of a button up shirt to get the right fit. This is a simple alteration to make your sleeves the right length.
Everyone needs alterations to make your clothes fit. Clothes are made to fit an arbitrary average that doesn’t actually exist. You can shorten the sleeves of a button up shirt for the right fit, and the best part is that it’s a very easy sewing alteration!
You can shorten sleeves on a button up shirt for both men’s, women’s, and some children’s shirts. Any shirt sleeve that has a sleeve placket can use this method. It’s quick and easy.
Clothing is made to fit an average that doesn’t exist. Simple alterations like this can make your clothes look custom made. Clothes look the most expensive when they fit you. This is one of the sewing and alterations you can do yourself!
If you want to make your clothes look tailored you can also shorten a sweater or hem jeans with the original hem. If you have the opposite problem you can use this tutorial to lengthen sleeves on a jacket!
Sleeves with plackets can only be shortened up to an 1″ though, if you shorten sleeves any more than that you won’t be able to roll up your sleeves.
A placket is an opening in the bottom of the sleeve that makes it possible to roll up your sleeves. The cuff is tighter than the sleeve and it keeps the sleeve at the wrist instead of falling down on the hand.
how to shorten sleeves
Use a seam ripper to carefully take the cuffs off. Pull out on the remnant threads so that you don’t sew over them. Especially take out the topstitching thread that is often thick.
Mark (up to an 1″) up from the original cut line. Make sure you still have seam allowance. You can mark the new cut line and the new sew line to help you keep it straight.
Cut along the line. You will cut through the placket, seam, and pleats.
Carefully pin the cuff onto the sleeve matching the top of the cuff to the marked line. Be careful to pin the cuff to the right sleeve.
The buttons should be on the same side as the buttons and the buttonholes should be on the same side as the buttonholes. The right cuff needs to go on the right sleeve, and the left cuff needs to go on the left sleeve.
The pleats will need to be adjusted and deepened. You will have to play with them until they fit smoothly in the cuff.
Sew with a regular stitch on the original cuff seam line. Make sure your thread matches the original thread exactly so that it doesn’t look like you altered the sleeves.
Check to make sure you caught the fabric on the back side.
I’ve done this on crisp white shirts too!
If you make shorten sleeves using this tutorial, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!
- Button up shirt with sleeves too long
- Sewing Tools
- Use a seam ripper to take the cuffs off. Mark (up to an 1") up from the original seam. Then mark 3/8" down for the seam allowance. Cut on the seam allowance line.
- Pin the cuff onto the sleeve matching the top of the cuff to the marked seam line.
- The pleats will be adjusted and deepened. You will have to play with them until they fit.
- Sew with a regular stitch on the original cuff seam line.
- Make sure you caught everything on the back side.
- Press the new pleats really well.
You can only use this technique when shortening up to one inch. If you need to shorten it more than that then you'll have to redo the whole placket.