sew-along part 4: sleeves

Let’s tackle those sleeves! If you’re like me and have ever broken out in a cold sweat when you think about sleeves: fear not, they are not as bad as they seem.

Click below for more!

So first, unfold your sleeve pieces…

and hem the edges. (you could do them later when they’re sewn into the shirt, but I despise sewing tiny sleeves…
anyways, I serged the edge and then ironed them over about 1/2″ but you could just as easily fold it over 1/4″, iron, and then fold over again, and iron.
Then sew along the edge to hem. I like to stitch on the tops of my hems, I’m just weird like that.
And you can pin if you like, but the ironing holds it in place pretty well.
Speaking of ironing! Iron that sleeve hem.
Now, lay out your shirt pieces like so, with the right side up.
Fold your sleeve in half, and place the middle at the shoulder seam, right sides together.
Unfold it and pin in the center.
Then, on both sides of that first pen, ease the fabric to fit each other. Around the curves may be a little tricky but it should fit pretty well.
Then it will look like this!
Repeat on other sleeve.
Then sew a 1/4 ” seam on the sleeves, serge or zig zag to finish it.
Press Press Press!
Starting to look like a shirt, huh?!
Flip it inside out, and line up the armpit seams on one side-pin there, and then match up the sleeves and pin those. Then continue down the side of the shirt.
Like so..
Starting at the sleeve, sew a few stitches, and back stitch a few stitches, then continue on down the sleeve and then the side. Repeat on the other side.
Serge or zig zag stitch edges!
Of course, let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll answer them in the comments.
Tomorrow: Finishing touches: collar, hem, buttons!

Let’s see those shirts! (ya know, if ya want to)

ooh, and also! So exciting, a few of my tutorials were featured over on Sew, Mama, Sew in a fun baby tutorial round up! Go check it out!


  1. I haven’t been brave enough to jump in with this sew-along. I’m still very new to sewing! But your sleeve tutorial came at a perfect time for me! I’m working on my little guys Halloween costume and have been terrified of the sleeves… but you made it look so simple! Thank you SOOO much!

  2. I love the idea of hemming the sleeve first! I will definitely try this.

  3. Question!! When you are sewing the bottom of the sleeve and then continuing down the side of the shirt, do you sew in a curve under the arm pit or do you sew straight up the sleeve, stop, turn it and sew straight down? Did that make any sense??

  4. Well, after 5, yes I said 5, attempts on the sleeves, my shirt was practically shredded. So I’m gonna start over!! “R.I.P. first attempt at the Sadie Shirt…R.I.P…” :)

  5. First sleeves I have ever sewn and I totally got it the first time! I was always so scared of making anything with sleeves, but this was way easy!!!

  6. Nikki, I feel your pain. Major armpit issues, but luckily I was able to salvage mine. Every time I sewed around the armpit it looked all gathered together and wouldn’t sit flat. I finally made three different seams over the armpit and pick out whichever stitches appeared to be causing the trouble. It doesn’t look pretty on the inside, but it worked.

  7. I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one!! ;D I’m going to attempt it again. We’ll see if I can get it! (I CAN do it, I CAN do it, I CAN do it…) LOL!

  8. sorry the sleeves didn’t work out for you guys! this way of putting in sleeves wont totally lay perfectly flat under the armpits, at least, any way i know how to do it. hope #2 works out better Nikki! you CAN do it!

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