How to Add Long Sleeves to Sleeveless Tops & Dresses

Sew Much Love Mary
by Sew Much Love Mary

I was really aiming to post this in March, and I even took these pictures then, but here we are at the end of April. It is really hot now where I live (dry Central Valley in CA), so I can't wear this dress anymore, unless I go to the Bay Area or someplace cooler. Crazy how time flies by, and also crazy how badly I manage my time, eek! Anyway, I made a tutorial last year on how to  add short sleeves to a sleeveless top or dress, so I decided to make a tutorial for long sleeves as well. It's the same method, just requires a bit more fabric for the long sleeves. 

I used  this blouse that I wore on Thanksgiving 2 years ago. I hadn't worn it since then, so I decided to give it a makeover and make a garment that I would wear more often. While I was looking for ideas, I came across floral dresses on Pinterest, and I remembered this lonely little blouse just sitting in my closet. I decided it was a perfect garment that I could refashion for myself AND make a long sleeve tutorial. I love dresses, because: 1. It's easy to make an outfit (just pop it on and go!) and 2. Cute & comfy! (This dress is made from Double Brushed Poly, so it's extra comfy!)

As I mentioned in my  short sleeve tutorial, this is not a pattern drafting technique or anything fancy. Drafting sleeves is tricky. This is just a method I use to add sleeves to sleeveless garments for a little bit more modesty, or to change up the look of a garment (like I did with this floral dress).


1. Fold your fabric over and lay your sleeveless garment on top of it, at an angle, as shown below.

(You can make a pattern first with paper or muslin, but I like to trace directly onto fabric. If this is your first time, try tracing on paper or muslin and then cut out from your fabric)

2. Trace your sleeve (shown in pink) and when you get towards the end, lift up the edge a bit (shown in light blue).

3. Making a long sleeve can get a little tricky, so I like to use a long sleeve top to guide the rest of the sleeve, after tracing the armhole.

After tracing, add 1/4" - 1/2" seam allowance all around (armhole, inside seam, and hem), except on the fold. 

Here is how my sleeve looked like: 

(Sometimes I use tailor's chalk & other times I use pins to trace my sleeve)

4. Cut out your sleeves, remembering to add 1/4" - 1/2" seam allowance all around (armhole, inside seam, and hem)

(The pink line is what I traced earlier and then I added seam allowance around. I like to add a little more seam allowance at the sleeve opening)

5. Sew your sleeves closed.

6. Turn your sleeve right-side out and your sleeveless garment inside-out.

7. Place your sleeve inside your garment, as shown below.

8.  Match the shoulder points and the armpit points, pin, and sew all around the armhole.

The last step is to hem your sleeves.

New sleeves! 

To make the rest of this dress,  I sewed a big rectangle, gathered it, and sewed it to the bodice. Then, I just sewed a piece of skinny elastic on the seam. 

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Sew Much Love Mary
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