Tutorial: How to add a vented sleeve band

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you would have liked? C’mon, you know you have; it has happened to all of us who sew.

I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeves is to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz. You can apply exactly the same technique to too-short-pants. This tutorial is a two-fer! ;-)

Supplies needed:

  1. Sleeves to be lengthened
  2. Extra fabric to create a sleeve band
  3. Iron
  4. Matching thread
  5. Ruler
  6. Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)
  7. Sewing machine + basic sewing supplies

Let’s get this party started.
1. First, decide on the desired WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide ((2 * 2 inches) + (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).
2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve band strips need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances to this measurement. My sleeve measured about 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA)
3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half the long way, right sides together.

Vented sleeveband tutorial by Sew Maris
4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the seam allowance at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line inwards a little as it gets closer to the fold because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice—draw a straight line just marking the seam allowance you used in # 2, or start at the seam allowance and angle the line a bit toward the middle as you get to the fold edge. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. It is hard to see in the image above because of my fabric, but squint your eyes and you will see yellow lines at the short ends, and the lines angle toward the middle of the sleeve band.

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you like? C’mon, it has happened to all of us.   I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeve sis to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz.    Supplies needed: Sleeves to be lengthened Extra fabric to create a sleeve band Iron Thread Ruler Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)  Let’s get this party started. 1. Determine the WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide((2*2 inches)+ (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).  2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve bands need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances. My sleeve measured 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA) 3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half, right sides together, and press with your iron. 4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the cut edge of the stitching line at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line toward the center a little because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice - draw a straight line marking your seam allowance you used in # 2, or angle the line at the fold edge a bit. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. 5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. 6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve.  7. Right sides together, place one edge of the sleeve band at the bottom of the sleeve “center” pin. Continue pinning the sleeve band around the bottom edge of the sleeve, making sure the short ends of the sleeve vent meet at the center pin.  8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1. 9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side catching the seam allowance in the stitching.
5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. In the image above, the fold edges are at the bottom of the picture, and the top band has been trimmed,and the bottom band has only been stitched.

Have you ever made a blouse or top and the sleeves ended up being shorted than you like? C’mon, it has happened to all of us.   I like to view these situations as “design opportunities” rather than disasters, and one of my favorite ways to add a little snap to an outfit with too-short sleeve sis to add a vented cuff. It looks all designer-y-and-fancy, but it really is super simple. You can use the same fabric as the garment, or a contrast fabric can really add some pizazz.    Supplies needed: Sleeves to be lengthened Extra fabric to create a sleeve band Iron Thread Ruler Marking tool (tailor’s chalk, Frixion pen, Chakoner, etc)  Let’s get this party started. 1. Determine the WIDTH of your sleeve band. To determine this, you need to start with the amount of LENGTH you want to add to your sleeves. You will be cutting a strip 2 x the number of inches you want to add, + 2 seam allowances. For my sleeve, I wanted to add 2 inches,  so I cut 2 strips of fabric 4.5 inches wide((2*2 inches)+ (2 * 1/4 inch seam allowance).  2. Now let’s figure out how long the sleeve bands need to be. Start by measuring the circumference of your sleeve, and again you will need to add 2 seam allowances. My sleeve measured 11 inches, so I cut my strips 11.5 inches (11 inches + (2 * 1/4 SA) 3. Fold your sleeve band strips in half, right sides together, and press with your iron. 4. Using your marking tool, draw a line from the cut edge of the stitching line at the short end of the band to the fold. I like to angle this line toward the center a little because it creates a nice “V” on the finished band. Your choice - draw a straight line marking your seam allowance you used in # 2, or angle the line at the fold edge a bit. I angled my line about 1/2 inch at the fold edge. 5. Stitch the short ends of the sleeve band. Trim seam allowances to 1/4”, turn and press. 6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve.  7. Right sides together, place one edge of the sleeve band at the bottom of the sleeve “center” pin. Continue pinning the sleeve band around the bottom edge of the sleeve, making sure the short ends of the sleeve vent meet at the center pin.  8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1. 9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side catching the seam allowance in the stitching.
6. Fold your sleeve in half, and place a pin at the fold line marking the outside center of the sleeve. Fold your band in half and also mark the center with a pin.

PinnedSleeveBand
7. Now you are ready to pin the sleeve band to the sleeve.

  • Right sides together, place the sleeve band on top of the sleeve.
  • Make sure that the two “vent” edges of the sleeve band meet at the “center” pin you marked on the sleeve, and the “center” pin marked on the sleeve band is at the at the sleeve seam.
  • The raw (cut) edges of the sleeve band are on top of the raw edge of the sleeve. This means the fold of the sleeve band should be oriented towards the shoulder seam.
  • Pin all around the sleeve circumference.
  • Make sure you do not place the vent edges of the band at the sleeve seam, or your designer detail will be under your arm and no one will see it! :-)

8. Stitch the sleeve band to the sleeve, using the seam allowance you determined in step #1.

Vented sleeve band tutorial by Sew Maris
9. Trim and press the seam allowance toward the sleeve, and topstitch on the sleeve side. Be sure to catch the seam allowance in the stitching so they do not poke down toward the sleeve band while wearing.

You are done, and you have a snazzy looking sleeve that is actually the length you want for the garment. Win-win!

Happy sewing!

Maris

11 Responses to Tutorial: How to add a vented sleeve band

  1. Melissa W says:

    Pinned it!!

  2. What a great idea – will undoubtedly use it. Thank you so much.

  3. Carrie says:

    That’s a great idea! And I love the look of the vented sleeve too

  4. Jonie Brooks says:

    This is fantastic!! I make tons of whoops! That is usually when I end up doing a tutorial. We don’t call them mistakes, we call them the brains way of expanding. I am pinning this because I know I will need it in the future.

  5. Sierra says:

    Maris, these are so cute!

    ~ Sierra ~ http://www.booksandbodkins.com

  6. […] Maris from Sew Maris shows how to add a vented sleeve band to a shirt.  It’s a smart detail that also happens to be great solution when a pattern ends up with sleeves shorter than you thought they would be.  You could also do this with a finished shirt, though you’d either need to find fabric that matches the original sleeve closely, or use a contrasting fabric for a color block effect.  Get the tutorial at Sew Maris. […]

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