Shopping can be such a chore at times. As much as I like wearing nice clothes, sometimes it is just next to impossible to find what I need. It is hard enough to find things in petite sizing to accommodate my short stature, much less something cute. Recently I spent quite a bit of time at a number of stores, at big box, discount and boutiques, looking for a simple thing – a short sleeve woven top or two. I am at that certain point where I do not like my upper arms to be exposed, so a sleeveless isn’t an option. But I need something woven for the heat, knits like t-shirts seem to stick to me when it is really hot and woven fabrics keep me cooler. But sleeveless and knits are what I saw most at the stores! I could find long sleeves or sleeveless but nothing between. Luckily, I can sew, and when I finally remembered that, I found two long sleeve, woven fabric tops and took them home to alter.
This is really not hard to do, just takes a bit of measuring to get it right. Begin by trying on the top, and measuring from the shoulder seam to the point where you want the sleeve to end. Shoulder seams will sit differently on different tops, so you have to have that measurement correct by measuring with it on. In my case, that was 9 inches finished length. I wanted a small cuff on this one, so I added five inches to that length. Be sure that you have enough width in the sleeve to do this (that it doesn’t taper smaller down the sleeve), otherwise just add a hem allowance. Then take the top off, and lay it on a cutting table, measuring from the shoulder seam down the top edge, in my case to 14 inches.
That measurement was going to cut across this tab and button detail on the sleeve, so I got out my seam ripper and removed those elements.
Now measure down the top edge to the 14 inches again, and lay a ruler at that point, but don’t cut yet.
Now, measure from the bottom to the same point. In this case it was 9 inches to the bottom of the cuff. Now measure the same 9 inches on the bottom edge to find that point. Connect those two points on the top and bottom of the sleeve to ensure that the angle is correct. The angle of the cut should be the same as (parallel to) the lower edge of the sleeve.
Now measure up from the bottom of the other sleeve by the same amount on the top and bottom, the same 9 inches. This ensures that the sleeves will be an equal length.
I decided to finish off the edges with my serger. If you don’t have a serger, you can turn the edge under, or do a zigzag stitch to finish the edge.
Measure up three inches to put in the hem.
Stitch the hem. Removing the base on my sewing machine helps as it gives me a smaller base to slip the sleeve over.
Press the hem.
Fold up the hem 2 inches to the outside to create the cuff and press in place.
I put in two tacks by hand to hold the cuff in place.
And voila, now I have the short sleeve top I wanted.
One other tip, those mother of pearl buttons would be impossible to replace if I lost one. So, I took the extras from the cuffs, and sewed them onto the seam allowance at the sides of the top. Now I have extras if I lose one, and I don’t have to go searching for it in a button box.
For the white lace top, I followed the same procedure of measuring the length I wanted, measuring the sleeve from the bottom on both edges, and cutting the sleeve at the proper angle. This time I made the sleeve 10 inches, to get the 9-inch finished length plus one inch for hem allowance.
I wasn’t worried about the lace raveling, so I turned up the hem and zigzag stitched it.
And the other top is done, took less than half an hour.
For the bits you cut off, here’s an idea to use them. I did get a couple of new t-shirts while I was shopping, knowing I have bought this brand before so I knew the size to get. I didn’t try them on, and when I did put one on at home, the V-neck was cut to an obscene depth. I am just not comfortable with a neckline cut to my navel, not at this point in my life, LOL! So, I took some of the lace from the sleeve, and cut a triangle to sew into the t-shirt to raise the neckline.
Ultimately, I decided to use a different scrap of lace, cut from a pillowcase that was torn. I cut a triangle larger than I needed for the opening, and pinned it into place. It was sewn into place by topstitching in the ditch of the neckline ribbing.
Turning it inside out, the excess was trimmed away.
Finished, and I am so much more comfortable with the added coverage.
So, there are a couple of ideas to help you make ready to wear more wearable. Do you alter your clothes?