Tutorial ~ Turn A Long Sleeve Shirt Into A Short Sleeve

by Destri on July 29, 2011

My poor little guy has been wearing the same shirt to church for weeks now (white polo).  Last week he finally put his foot down and wanted to wear his favorite shirt.  I tried to convince him that long sleeves generally do not go along with a 110 ° heat index, but he didn’t care.  So I decided before this weekend hit, I had better turn some of his long sleeve shirts into short sleeves.  It worked out great because he has not yet outgrown his shirts from last winter, but they might get a little too small come this winter.  It seems they always outgrow them in the sleeve first anyway :).

I will share the easiest one first, but don’t throw away the scraps (heaven forbid ;)), we’re going to be using them next week to make this shirt.  Catch me after the jump for the how-to!

Tutorial ~ How Turn A Long Sleeve Shirt Into A Short Sleeve

These are the shirts I had to work with.  Today’s project involves the farthest shirt on the left, his favorite.  The denim shirt I decided to just leave alone, because it looks like it will fit him this winter.  So round up a shirt or two, your sewing machine, and we’ll get started!

If you have a short sleeve you can use as a guide, just lay it over the long sleeve as shown.  If not, no worries; this is easy enough.

Cut off the sleeves at the same angle as the guide, and leave enough to hem the sleeves.  If you don’t have a guide, just eye ball it :).

You can see in this photo that I left about 1½ inches on the sleeve length for hemming.  Don’t throw away those cuffs!  You might need them for the other shirt we’ll tackle next week :).

Now turn the sleeve under ¾ inch and then again ¾ inch, leave the shirt right side out.

Press the sleeve with a hot iron to set.

Take the sleeve off your machine, and slide the edge of the sleeve to the 6/8 seam guide.  This should have the stitches right where you need them, but make sure that your needle is over the cuff.  The reason we are sewing on the right side, is you just get a nicer looking stitch.  Set your stitch length a little longer and then sew around the sleeve.  I found I liked to start on the top of the sleeve, rather than on the underside at the seam.

Now slide the edge of the sleeve to line up with the 5/8 inch seam guide on your machine and sew a second time around the cuff.

You should have two rows of stitches looking like this.

Then you have a nice and professional looking finish :).  I like to press my stitches with steam afterward, just to set them.

The only place that was tricky for me was right at the seam on the underside. I had to work the fabric a little to keep it straight through the machine.  Just take it slow through that point, smooth out the sleeve as you go and it will turn out great!

Really  I can’t believe I haven’t done this before!  It was so easy.  I have been working on some projects that require math and such, so it was nice to work on a simple and satisfying project for a bit.  I worked my way through three shirts, and so now he even has a nice set for back-to-preschool.  He pretty much only wore them to church, so they look brand new :).

Next week I will have this shirt for you, it was a fun one!  And easy peasy because you use the existing button holes. So keep the scraps from this shirt and your little guy can have a rolled cuff argyle shirt to sport around.

You can find the rest of the boy tutorials here!

This is the skirt pattern I have been working on, and I am in love with it.  It has a wide waistband that ties, and then hidden gathered  panels to add a little fun.  I have started on the second one and decided to add a bit more gather underneath.  I was originally wanting a side tie, but I arranged the waistband as such that the skirt looks better tied on the front.  So I am looking for a little feedback, side tie, or front tie?  The bow will be slightly smaller too, though I have to say the big one is growing on me :).  Also, how big should I go with the pattern?  I was thinking to a 6T, thoughts?

Happy Friday friends, I will be back later with a weekend send off!


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney July 29, 2011 at 8:18 am

I want you as my next door neighbor! I sure wish I was good at sewing!!


Jennifer July 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

I am loving the skirt… rooting for a back tie!


Destri July 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Why did I not think of a back tie? That would be adorable! I have found a way to leave it up to the seamstress, so I am glad you brought that up, now I can add the directions for that. Thank you Jennifer :)


kate July 29, 2011 at 11:21 am

yes, can you do the skirt in a size 4 – for me please!!!! how cute I love it – may be a little longer cos I don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb….I serious!!!
LOVE ITxxxxx


Destri July 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Hey, I thought about doing a woman’s size! Send me your hip measurements! I am Serious :)


Pattyann July 30, 2011 at 7:19 am

I have done this so many times. I will also say, this is a great project when you can find long sleeve shirts on sale (they always seem to be on sale better than the short sleeve ones) than you just make them into short sleeves and you have brand new shirts completely in season!!


Donna July 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I love the skirt pattern. I think the tie would be cute in the back as well. I would love to make this for my granddaughter. I will be eagerly awaiting the tutorial on that.


Sandra Robben July 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Love the skirt, please do the pattern for 6T. My daughter is a long legged 5,5 year old and would love this. Also rooting for a back-tied version.


Kim July 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

This is great. I never think to cut off the sleeves. I will take the sleeves from a previous winter and attach them to the sleeves of a short sleeve shirt that still fits for a layered look. All of the stores carry that look anyway. Then my kids get to keep their favorite shirts for one more season. Does that make sense?


Marg June 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

I have tried shortening my husbands shirt using your method but the cut edge is narrower than the top and the band puckers. How do I fix this?


KatyLina July 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm

i have a question. can the same be done for the hubby’s shirts? or are they cut different? Thanks!


Destri July 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

You might have to adjust the angle that the shirt sleeve is cut at if it is more tapered. To do that just open the seam if you can and then fold. Does that make sense? Let me know!


Gerry July 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I have a question in regards to making a short sleeve from long. What is the 6/8 seam guide?


Destri August 13, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Gerry, on my machine that is the last line on my machine for a guide – but really you just want to sew there on the edge of the cuff. Hope this helps!


jezzmin August 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

That skirt is super cute. Reminds me of sailor moon. Front tie deffinatly.


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