Tutorial: How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve

How to add a Cuff to a Sleeve; Once Upon a Sewing Machine
How to add a Cuff to a Sleeve; Once Upon a Sewing Machine

With Christmas just around the corner I needed a dress for M. I had been eyeing up the Goodship Dress for some time. The problem is the dress is sleeveless, and well we live in the Midwest. Even with the addition of a sweater I worried it was just too impractical. The good news is it was easy to add a sleeve to the dress, I made it a little more interesting by adding a coordinating cuff, I’ll run you through how to do that step-by-step.

While it had been my original intent to sew a red and black dress I didn’t find any fabric that really appealed to me, and I cut it too close to order any. I ended up defaulting to my stand by blue. In the end I think she will wear it more in this color palette. The fabric isn’t particularly heavy, so this will work into the Spring.

how to sew a cuff

I only ran into one problem, two if you count the fact she wouldn’t stop twirling so I could take a picture, and that was the hem length. I should have double checked, but I didn’t. I sewed a 2T which I knew would be a little large on her. She is 2″ shorter than the 2T stated measurements, I took the hem up an extra inch and made some silly assumptions based on the cover photo for the pattern (pictured on a little bit older girls).

I don’t know why but when I sew without her around I always end up a ridiculously long dress. In total I cut 4″ of the bottom of this dress. Because I didn’t plan I did it after the dress was finished. My short cut left the dress and inset a lit wonky when you lay it flat, it’s fine on her. Lesson learned, again, double check the hem length.

Add a Cuffed Sleeve

I pulled out a pattern piece for a 2T sleeve I knew would work on her, you could also trace an existing top’s sleeve. Decided how tall you’re going to want your cuff to be.

Using your sleeve pattern as a template cut four cuffs out of your fabric and two out of interfacing.

I kept my seam allowance really minimal, but keep in mind when cutting your pieces to add in extra length if you need it.

add a sleeve to dress girls sewing pattern

This seam will be at the bottom of your sleeve. If you have created a cuff that flares out you want to sew across the narrow end.

diy sleeve cuff

You’ll want to finish these edges as they won’t be totally enclosed I used a pinking shears .

add sleeve cuff

Sew your sleeves closed if you haven’t yet.


sew a cuffed sleeve

The right side of your cuff will be against the wrong side of your sleeve. Once you have the raw edges lined up sew around the sleeve and finish the edge.

*A sizing note: I did this with a 2T it is the smallest size I would attempt this application on. Your sleeve will be too small to fit on your free arm and any smaller would make it REALLY tough to complete this step with a closed seam.


Turn the cuff up and press. Your sleeve is ready to be set as normal! On the Goodship pattern I simply omitted the sleeve binding around the armhole and put in my sleeve.

girls cuffed sleeve

That’s one thing checked off the list! Next up her brother’s outfit!

add a cuff

Have you ever added a cuff to a sleeve?




{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Amy mayen December 18, 2012, 10:23 am

    I love this dress! I checked out the site too. I like their Jude Jacket for boys. I shy away from PDFs but I did finally buy some doll clothes patterns. (Less piecing!) I wonder if you have ever used an Oliver + S pattern? I’ve been eyeballing them for a long time. They are really cute staples for kids, things that can get a ton of wear. Next time you use a PDF, I’d love a tutorial on how you use them. I transfer to poster board but its stiff & you can’t pin it. I’m dying to know your method!

    • onceuponasewingmachine December 18, 2012, 10:47 am

      Hey Amy, I usually do the full pattern print out with all the sizes on something more stable, then transfer the size they are currently in onto tissue paper. I keep everything stored in gallon zip locks! It would be interesting to see how everyone handles their PDFs.

      I do use Oliver and S they have really lovely patterns. If you want to check out some great examples check out Cindy’s blog- http://siestasandsewing.blogspot.com/ she recently posted several really cute Oliver & S projects.

  • djames December 29, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Great tutorial and super fabric choice. I prefer some form of sleeve on all daywear; I usually opt for 3/4 length without a cuff but these contrasting cuffs look lovely, another to add to my list!

    • onceuponasewingmachine December 29, 2012, 3:53 pm

      Thank you! A cuff is nice to mix it up once and awhile. That list never ends does it 🙂

  • Kilee January 2, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Love the fabric! What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!


  • Pam January 3, 2013, 5:26 am

    The little people I sew for aren’t here, so I sometimes have to estimate. I do, however, have every possible measurement pinned to my board and in most cases, this works well. It’s definitely easier when you can just try the garment on. I can’t remember adding cuffs to sleeves, but I’ve often put them on pants. They’re a great way to jazz up a garment, or to add length. As always, a great tutorial!!!

    • onceuponasewingmachine January 3, 2013, 8:34 am

      Donna has an ever growing measurement chart on her end too, I am spoiled to be able to try on and adjust- I should take that advantage more often! Though lesson maybe finally learned I adjusted the current hem I’m working on while cutting.

  • Stacie January 3, 2013, 8:07 am

    Love that you went with colors that she will be able to wear for a while. Hoping to get started sewing for my baby girl!

    • onceuponasewingmachine January 3, 2013, 8:31 am

      It’s really fun to sew for girls- not gonna lie! Good luck with your projects 🙂

  • Pam January 5, 2013, 5:37 am

    Hi Donna and Rachel, I’ve featured your cuff tutorial today.

  • PoldaPop January 5, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Hi – I found you through the Sew Much Ado link party. Great tutorial, and timely for me. I got a denim blazer for Christmas that is too short in the arms, and I’ve been thinking about how to fix it – this might be my solution!

    • onceuponasewingmachine January 5, 2013, 5:11 pm

      I hope it helps! The way I did hers it folded back up on her sleeve, so I didn’t get a lot of extra length. But you could easily adjust so you would gain the cuff length by making your piece bigger so it fold up over it’s self not your sleeve. Good luck!

  • ana5059 January 6, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial! It’s great.

  • P May 15, 2013, 8:35 am

    Thanks for the tutorial! Question: why not attach the cuff before closing the sleeve and cuff seams, then close them together? That way you don’t have to sew around any circles and fitting over the arm isn’t a problem, whereas closing the seams of both seems unnecessarily complicated.

    • onceuponasewingmachine May 15, 2013, 9:33 pm

      Yes that should work! I did this tutorial as I went, for how I have done it on adult garments. After I considered the same strategy. And like I mentioned realistically anything smaller than a 2T would necessitate joining them before closing the sleeve. Thanks for the comment!

  • Susan Smith August 16, 2013, 6:06 pm

    Hi Love the dress I’m actually trying to finish one but can’t work out how to put the panel on the front in. I have emailed the designer but no response in a week so hoping you can help me with some tips so I can finish it off for a birthday present. Regards, Susan

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