How do I alter the sleeves on a sweater?
November 14, 2011 2:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a long sleeved hot pink sweater that is kind of marmish looking. I think it could be made kickier with short sleeves, though. How would I go about altering it?

The sweater is a cotton/cashmere blend. I do not need any kind of fanciness at the sleeves (i.e. just a plain folded over seam would be fine). I am an ok sewer, but I do not know anything about knitting or crocheting. I'm hoping for sleeves as short as these. I don't want to cut it and then be left with a weirdly shaped mess. Is this doable with just sewing (i.e. no nightmare puckering and unraveling)? and how?
posted by bluefly to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think a plain folded over seam is a good idea with a sweater, at least if you're doing it yourself either by hand or with a standard sewing machine. It's going to be very very easy to make the seam too tight and have, as you say, a weirdly shaped mess. If you really don't want to take it somewhere, I think your best bet is to finish it by folding a ribbon over the raw edge and sewing that in place. Taking it to a professional is definitely your best bet, however.
posted by mchorn at 4:10 AM on November 14, 2011

Unfortunately, you will run into trouble just cutting and sewing it. It will eventually unravel. If you can see, here is an easy way to alter it:

If you are able to figure out how short you want it, you can get weave a piece of yarn through the loops at the length of the sleeve you like. Pick a color different so you can see if you've missed a stitch.

Once you've done that, unravel the sleeve to that point and tie a double knot to secure before you cut the yarn.

Now, tie the yarn that you've unravelled to the yarn you weaved into the sleeve. Pull the yarn all the way through and be sure not to pull it too tight. Now you've successfully shorten your sleeve! Tie a double knot and cut.

If that's too much for you, try to find a yarn store and you'll meet about a dozen people in there who can help you alter it. The knitting community is very willing to share and help!
posted by Yellow at 5:15 AM on November 14, 2011

Oops, sorry, I meant if you can sew! Writing this on my phone!
posted by Yellow at 5:17 AM on November 14, 2011

Is there a seam on the sleeves or is it just a tube? If it's a tube sleeve you'll be able to easily unravel the sleeve to the point you want (cut the sleeve off a bit longer than you want, then unravel until it's where you want - actually depending on what direction the knitting goes it will be either very easy to unravel or very difficult, but it's very hard to tell that before you start). Even if there's a seam you will be able to do some unraveling, especially if you carefully pick out the seam.

If it's a heavy yarn then you can pretty easily bind off the free knitted edge (google for "casting off" or "binding off" or get a knitter friend to do this for you). If it's lighter-weight I would recommend doing a line of machine knitting around the raw edge to stop it ravelling and then finishing it with ribbon or fold-over elastic (there are lots of cute colors available online).
posted by mskyle at 6:24 AM on November 14, 2011

Aw, ok. I can just fold the sleeves up a bit (maybe make a tab out of some of that nice ribbon y'all recommended). 3/4 length is better than nothing! Thanks for the advice.
posted by bluefly at 6:22 AM on November 15, 2011

(hit post instead of preview above)
I'll wait until the holidays to do the real trimming since it sounds slightly more complicated than I was thinking. But I'm willing to give Yellow's method a try!
posted by bluefly at 6:25 AM on November 15, 2011

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