How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Hi! Stephanie from Stephie B’s Designs, here again to teach you something I hope you didn’t already know… How to sew a cuff on a sleeve and pants. This simple trick can be used on patterns that would normally be hemmed, as well as existing shorts and pants.

Sew a Cuff on Sleeves

For some reason, when I sew a long sleeve shirt, I prefer it to have a cuff rather than a basic hem. Call me crazy, but I’ve found myself hacking several patterns to add cuffs to long sleeves. Not only sleeves, though… I’ve hacked pants patterns, that, (in my humble option), needed cuffs, too. 🙂

Bonus… With a little modification, it can also be used to add a waistband to shirts. Score!

I’m using a must-have pattern from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop that I’m going to hack today. Everyone needs a great bodysuit pattern, and the Lullaby Line Bodysuit is just that. I make TONS of bodysuits, and use this pattern 95% of the time.

(The other 5% I use three other bodysuit patterns, the Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, the Tiny Tanksie, and the Duck, Duck, Goose – all from (you guessed it!) Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop!)

Since I’m using a pattern for this tutorial, I will be adding cuffs during the construction of the garment. However, I will add sections within the Steps below to guide you through adding a cuff to an existing hemmed shirt/pants.

Are you ready to get sewing?!

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve Step 1. Decide how long you want your cuff.

A good cuff length for both sleeves and pants is anywhere between 2-3 inches, although I’ve seen some patterns with a 5-inch cuff on the sleeves! :/ That’s not my cup of tea, so for most of my patterns I stick will the following:

  • Infant sizes (0-18/24m): 2 inches
  • Toddler sizes (2T-4T/5): 2.5 inches
  • Kid and adult sizes: 3 inches

That being said, it’s totally up to you! (Aren’t I so nice?!)

For this particular 6m bodysuit, I want a 2-inch long-sleeve cuff.

How to Sew Cuffs on a Sleeve Step 2. Cut your chosen length from the pattern piece/existing sleeve/pants leg.

While technically you should be paying attention to seam allowances – subtracting, then adding, then multiplying, then dividing by pi – I will simply remove my desired cuff length from the pattern piece and call it a day.

But Stephanie, can you add the cuff right onto where the pattern piece ends? You sure can, but the sleeve will be pretty long, like a couple of inches. If you’re ok with that, add away! Skip this step and move on to Step 3.

In this case, my sleeve will be slightly longer than the original sleeve length (by 1/2 inch to be exact) but I’m ok with that.

Measure up from the bottom of the sleeve/pants leg up your desired length. This step is the same whether you’re using a pattern piece or an existing hem.

As I mentioned above, I want a 2-inch long cuff, so I’m measuring up 2 inches.

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Mark your measurement.

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Rather than actually cutting off the bottom portion of my pattern piece, I fold it under just in case someone asks for the hemmed version in the future.

If you’re using an existing sleeve/pants leg, cut the unneeded portion off.

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

How to Sew Cuffs on a Sleeve Step 3: Determine your desired cuff width.

I’ve read in the past to make the cuff widths 80% of the width of the bottom measurement, but I found that to be too tight, so I go for anywhere between 85%-90% – and even then oftentimes I’ll just eyeball it. I want the sleeve cinched in a bit, but not too much.

Measure across the bottom of your now-modified pattern piece (or the new raw edge of an existing hem).

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Time for more sewing math!

As you see in the image above, my piece measures 3 1/8 inches. I multiplied that by 85% (.85) and got just under 2 3/4, which is the width I am going to use for my cuffs.

How to Sew a Sleeve Cuff Step 4: Create your pattern piece.

As I’ve already discussed, my desired cuff length is 2 inches, and the width is 2 3/4 inches.

Both of those measurements will be doubled – the length because the cuff will be folded up and sewn to the sleeve, and the width because the sleeve pattern piece in my case is cut on the fold.

Additionally, I need to add in the seam allowance. I always use 1/4 inch seam allowance for some reason, but whatever you decide to use, double it because all sides of the cuff will be sewn, and add it to your measurements.

Note: If you’re using a raglan sleeve pattern piece or another pattern piece that is not cut on the fold, you’re 85%-90% measurement from the last step will not be doubled. If you don’t know what I’m referring to right now, you’re not using this type of sleeve pattern, so you can disregard!

Math time… again…

Before adding the seam allowance, my cuff piece (once the measurements were doubled) is 4 x 5 1/2 inches.

After adding 1/2 inch seam allowance to both measurements, I get 4 1/2 by 6 inches. This is what my pattern piece is going to be, and what I will be cutting out of my fabric.

Normally I’d open Word and create the pattern piece in there, but it’s late, my kids are sleeping, and I don’t want to run the printer. So… good old measuring, marking, and cutting for me.

Sewing a Cuff on a Sleeve Step 5: Cut out your cuff.

I prefer to cut my cuffs on the fold, so although I measured is 6 inches in the step above, I’m going to fold it and cut it on the fabric fold.

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Side note… notice how the stripes on my beautiful rainbow fabric line up perfectly? I find that a very important step, and one you can learn all about in this awesome tutorial, How to Match Plaids and Stripes. The fabric, by the way, is from, Primary Rainbow Stripes.

Another thing I do when I cut squares and rectangles on the fold – well to be honest, anytime I cut anything on the fold – is to cut a notch at the top and bottom marking the center line. This is especially useful when cutting out pieces for a neckband, cuff, waistband, and their corresponding pieces (the neckline of a shirt, etc.). It makes lining up the pieces sooo much easier.

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Grab your sleeve/pants pieces, and your new cuff pieces, and lets get sewing!

(As you can see in the picture below, my sleeve has also been notched at the fold so I know where it’s centerline is – that will make pinning the cuff on in a few steps much easier!)

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve Step 6: Sew

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

Sew both cuffs to form their loops…

Pin them to your sleeves (when your patterns calls for it – as you can see, I’ve already constructed the rest of my bodysuit)…

Then serge or sew together using a stretch stitch or zig-zag stitch.

Finish your tail if using a serger. Here’s a great tutorial on How to Finish Serger Tails if you’re wondering what you should do!

There you have it!!! You successfully added your own cuffs to a pattern that called for a hem, or a sleeve/pants leg that already had a hem. Great trick, right?!

How to Sew a Cuff on a Sleeve 101

I hope you’ve found this hack useful. Let me know below if you do, or if you have any comments or questions.

Be safe and happy until we meet again! 🙂

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5 Responses

  1. It seems when i serge the cuffs when they are done the surged part comes out wonky for some reason, not sure why…

  2. How did you know that I needed this just yesterday??? I bought several long sleeve t-shirts to monogram on but the sleeves were WAY too long, so I thought, I just need to cut them off a bit and put a cuff on them so the girls can wear them longer. This is perfect timing! Thanks!

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