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How to Shorten Sleeves of a Button Up Shirt

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!

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.

Here are some ideas for altering your clothes:

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

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.

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

Cut along the line. You will cut through the placket, seam, and pleats.

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

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.

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

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.

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

Press the new pleats really well. They go up to the height of the placket. You might have to sew the buttons back on which you can do by hand or by sewing machine.

I’ve done this on crisp white shirts too!

How to Shorten Sleeves of a Button Up Shirt

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!

Yield: 1 Pair of Shortened Sleeves

How to Shorten Sleeves

How to Shorten Sleeves // heatherhandmade.com

Everyone has individual measurements which means we all need alterations to make our clothes fit. Shorten the sleeves of a button up shirt for an easy sewing alteration!

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty Beginner
Estimated Cost Free

Materials

  • Button up shirt with sleeves too long

Tools

  • Sewing Tools

Instructions

  

  1. 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.
  2. Pin the cuff onto the sleeve matching the top of the cuff to the marked seam line.
  3. The pleats will be adjusted and deepened. You will have to play with them until they fit.
  4. Sew with a regular stitch on the original cuff seam line.
  5. Make sure you caught everything on the back side.
  6. Press the new pleats really well.

Notes

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.

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Thank you it was very helpful and easy to follow!!

I used to pinch out a 2-inch tuck above the elbow. Sewn, it looked like a design detail.

yes! I'm lazy too! so easy, but I just HATE hemming. I want to make something FUN! 🙂 or lay in bed and read awesome blogs all day! ha

That's so easy, and still I always feel too lazy for this small adjustments when sewing. hehe