Friday, December 30, 2011

Ruffly-Sleeve Shirt Tutorial

I just so happen to be a hoarder of t-shirts, so I have yet another shirt to make into a ruffly-sleeved shirt.  Ya know, like this one:

This next one was made from a huge shirt I got when I was teaching tennis at the Wheaton Sport Center. It's a kind of cool shirt, but it's enormous. (Plus, it's kind of fun to have a workout-themed shirt with a girly flair.)  Let's get chopping!

First, find a shirt that fits the little lady. You're going to use this to create the pattern for the bodice. Fold the kid shirt and your old shirt in half. Trace arm and neck holes. I like cutting it A-line style. Just cut out at a slight angle from the bottom of the armhole.

Now you'll need to grab your ruffle fabric for your sleeves. Fold it over and place the armhole against the sleeve to trace. Now here's the one irritating thing about ruffle fabric: you have to do a little work to make sure the ruffles are all going the same way. Before you cut, run your hand in between the layers to get the ruffles to behave. You'll also want to make sure that you've folded the fabric, so the ruffles line up. I know-- it's a little work, but it's totally worth it.

Cut two sleeves.

Now you have your pieces cut, you can start sewing. First, put the bodice pieces, right sides together. Stitch only the shoulders.

Open the shirt up, right sides up. Pin the sleeves on, starting at the middle point.

Now here's the deal with pinning and sewing sleeves, at least with these materials: they're both knits and stretchy, so you're going to have some wiggle room.  That's nice since you're going to have to manipulate the fabric to match the curve from the armhole and the curve from the sleeve.
What I do is just place three pins: the one in the middle and two on the ends.  I do this for two reasons.  First, since the knits are going to allow you to stretch if need be, I think it's easier to actually keep them matched up this way.  Second, as I mentioned, you want to keep your ruffles all going the same way.  With only a few pins, you can easily slide your finger in between the fabric, in front of your needle, as your sewing.  Then you know they're all where they belong.

After you've stitched both sleeves on, you can open up the shirt, and it'll look a little something like this.

Note how my ruffles are all going the same way?  Phew! :)

Now you're going to fold the shirt back up, right sides together, so you can pin (and sew) the bottom of the sleeve and the side seams.  Again, before you pin, run your finger between the ruffles.

 I start pinning the sleeve at the cuff.  And I'm also a little OCD about making sure my ruffles are lined up at the seam.  It's pretty easy since you can see that there are the stripes on the wrong side of the fabric.  Just line 'em up!

Sew to the armpit, put your needle down and lift your presser foot.  Shift your fabric and sew the side seam.

This next step isn't necessary, so feel free to skip.  You'll see the little edges of the ruffles poking their heads out.  I like to trim these off.  Then I finish the edge with a zig-zag stitch.  
*A note on finishing the edges: the fabrics are knit, so they won't fray.  If you want a little added security and/or finish, go ahead and zig-zag stitch after every straight stitch.  I like to do it on the ruffle fabric since it's a little lighter weight and will get a lot of movement.

At this point, if you turn the shirt right side-out, you'll have this.  Oooooo!  Getting so close!!
But we still need to do the neckhole.

Since it's a knit, you'll want to use a stitch that will stretch.  I like this one, though I don't know what it's called (or if it has a name).  You can also do a zig-zag.

I fold the edge over and use the edge of my presser foot as a guide.  I keep the raw edge against the inside edge of the left side of the foot.  See below.

Take your time here, and you'll be fine.  You'll need to keep pushing the fabric into place (trying not to stretch it too much).  Once you finish, it'll look like that one above.

Home stretch, people!  You have options for the hem.  You can do the same thing you did for the neck, or you can leave it as-is, or you can do a lettuce edge like the one below.  I used this tutorial from mama says sew.  It's pretty darn fun. :)

Now all that's left is to grab one of those cute kids you have lying around the house and snap a few photos.  

Part of the nifty thrifty link party!



Featured at A Real-Life Housewife!


  1. Great tutorial and cute refashion!! Would love for you to come link it up at Trendy Tots

  2. This is super cute! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to making a couple of these for my girls!!


I love comments more than I love buying new fabric, and that's saying something. :)