Monday, December 12, 2011

Skater Sleeves- Tutorial

This is a pretty simple idea, but it turned out really well. I'm continuing with my quest to conquer knit fabric- this time with something that will actually be seen when it's worn!

It's winter, and our Little Man has far more short sleeved shirts than long. He's not really lacking long sleeved shirts, but it seems like a waste to let him grow out of his cute shirts without being able to wear them. Especially his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine shirt. So I decided to make it into a Skater Shirt. (I have no idea what the official name of this style is, but I like how it looks on little people- and me.)

These are the shirts I used- the beloved Thomas Shirt, and a too small shirt too stained for the consignment store.

You will need-
-A short sleeved shirt that fits.
-A long sleeved shirt that fits or is slightly too small.
-Basic sewing supplies.

Turn your sleeve donor shirt inside out and cut the sleeves off as close to the shoulder as possible. You want to make the angle of the two sleeves match, so don't follow the shoulder seam- cut parallel to the cuff, instead.

I of course left the cuff out of this picture. I hope it's still clear.
Compare the long sleeves with the sleeves of the second shirt. You want them to be about the same size where they meet, thought the long sleeves can be a little smaller. I found that I needed to shrink the cuff of the Thomas shirt a little so they would match.

It's hard to see- there's a diagonal seam at the bottom of the sleeve.
If you need to shrink the cuff, mark where the new seam should be and baste from there to the armpit. (Mmm, lovely word.) Trim to about 1/4 inch, and zig-zag over the seam to finish it. (or you could use a serger if you have one. I do, but it isn't threaded...)

Okay, now for the tricky part. It really makes more sense to sew this from the outside, to keep the visible seams as neat as possible. So, turn both parts right-side out, and position the new sleeve inside of the old. Pin it in place, making sure they overlap by at least a 1/2 inch.

Okay, if you have a sewing machine that works like mine, you'd remove the flat surface and have a thin arm to sew on. I slid the arm through the collar and into the sleeve, making sure that the bottom layer didn't get crumpled in the process. If you have a machine that doesn't do this, I'm not sure how you would go about this part. You might have to hand sew it (sacrilege!)

Use an appropriate stitch for knit fabric- I used the stretch stitch. On my machine, it looks like three dashed lines next to a zigzag. I followed the original seam of the Thomas shirt's sleeve so it would look nice. Try to keep the fabric from stretching as you sew. I ended up letting it stretch a little and it didn't ruin my nice shirt, so don't panic over it.

Repeat everything for the second sleeve and you're done!

The Little Man came out from his nap and wanted to put his shirt on right away- I call that a success.


  1. A useful idea. I liked hearing about the stretch stitch. Maybe there is one on my Bernina 1090 S. I know I should just haul out the manual and check out how to sew on stretchy fabric. Maybe after February, I have plenty of projects until at least then.

  2. I bet there is such a stitch on your machine. Mine is a Bernina, too, so it probably looks just like I described- three vertical dashed lines with a zigzag next to them. It's stitch #8 on my Bernina 1230.

  3. Very cool. Where did you get that cute model?

  4. He's always hanging around, mooching food. I figured I'd make him work for once.