TUTORIAL: Another simple way to sew-on sleeves

by Dana on July 21, 2011

When I learned to sew, I was taught to sew sleeves separately and then insert them into the armhole on a dress or shirt. This is the method I use most often and the method outlined in the 90 Minute Shirt Tutorial and Beach Robe Pattern.
But there’s always more than one way to do things. So I thought I’d share an alternate method for sewing on sleeves. This is the same method used in the Shirt Dress Tutorial. The top of the sleeves are sewn to the armholes before sewing the sides of the dress or robe closed. So if this method makes more sense in your creative mind, use it for all your shirts, dresses, and robes!

Okay, let’s get started. We’ll try it out on this cute striped robe, made for my friend’s new baby (striped towels from IKEA).
Following the Beach Robe Pattern (or other tutorial), cut out your pattern pieces.
Sew the fronts and back of the robe together at the shoulders, but do NOT sew down the sides of the robe.
Lay the Robe flat on the table, and you can see that the sleeves fit right inside of those semi-circle armholes.
With right sides of the fabric together, pin each sleeve to the armhole curve. The fabric will bend/curve up as you pin (since a sleeve is round). Sew each sleeve to the armhole.
When you’re done it should look like this. Simple, right?
Now fold the whole thing in half (with right sides of the fabric together). And its starting to look like a robe.
Pin the sleeves and side seams together. Remember, if you’re using partial ties (outlined in the pattern), you need to add them into the side seam now.
Then start at the end of the sleeve, sew all the way down, around the armpit, and down the entire side of the robe. Do this for both sides of the robe. When you get to the armpit, stop sewing, leave your needle down in the fabric, and lift the presser foot to shift/turn the fabric. Then continue sewing. For stronger reinforcement, forward and back-stitch a few times at the armpit.
Continue sewing the robe as outlined in the pattern. And you’re done!
One cute robe ready to wrap up and gift away.
And I have to say, I was on the fence about the white bias tape (vs. navy blue or red). But in the end, I love the white. Feels fresh and clean.
Have a great Thursday!

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikell February 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

This is a great way to sew sleeves. I’ll have to try this on my next project! Thanks for sharing (^_^)


2 Azshab March 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

wow….have thougt of that – just havent had the confidence ..! THNX for sharing ..now i’ll try !!:thumbsup:


3 Abbie April 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Whenever I use this method to sew sleeves together, there are little gathers under the armpit on the garment, any suggestions for how I can avoid this problem? This is definitely an easy way to sew sleeves, I just don’t know why it looks so bad when I do it!


4 Dana April 4, 2012 at 12:46 am

I would try snipping small cuts in the seam where it curves. This might help it lay more flat. If not, you can always sew sleeves on the other way!


5 Polina April 25, 2012 at 3:54 am

Oh! This is exactly how I do it. :)


6 dannyscotland May 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Oh this is genius!


7 ChinaDoll August 24, 2012 at 3:35 am

Wow! thank you for an awesome tutorial!


8 Bola October 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Can you explain how you cut the hood and sewed it on the robe.This is a great idea,thanks for the clue


9 Beth December 22, 2012 at 10:30 pm

That’s how my mama taught me years ago! It’s my favorite method.


10 Melissa January 6, 2013 at 8:11 am

I have been terrified of sleeves… this will help me so much! Thanks!


11 Korede May 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Thanks alot.id will try ds out.


12 Sonia May 29, 2013 at 9:08 am

I am so glad I found you this morning. I was wondering how I would sew the priest garments for the filming when I am not a professional. You are an answer to prayer.
From Brazil, Sonia


13 Arline June 12, 2013 at 2:18 am

Thank you!!! This worked brilliantly!!


14 laura June 25, 2013 at 2:45 am

thank you! I have been looking for an easy way to sew on sleeves! also, the beach towel robe a great idea too!


15 Marie Nichols Britt August 2, 2013 at 7:30 am

I’m in process of making a 3xlt fleece pullover for my hubs and was stuck on the arms. This looks great. Thank you!


16 Lily August 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Thank you so much. One of the greatest difficulties I face is sewing on the sleeve. You make it look so easy. I will try this method when I next sew my blouse.


17 Sophia August 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Wow this made it SOOOO simple!!!

Thanks a bunch for the tutorial


18 Surya August 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

this is very smart!


19 Jardley September 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm

This is beautiful and very simple looking especially with the pictures! Thank you so much


20 bev parsons September 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm

dream tosew!


21 Virginia October 15, 2015 at 4:52 pm

There are at least two of these: dolman and kimona.


22 chris October 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

brilliant! so simple… that’s hat i am all about. :-)


23 Ramona Walter November 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

Loved this information. Made my life a lot easier.


24 Jean July 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

Off topic I know, but is the side seam of the front on grain? If not, how should I establish the grainline?


25 Virginia October 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Don’t worry about grain line at the side seam. It is down the center of the fronts and the center of the back that the fabric should be exactly on grain. Side seams can be shaped with no problem if the center of the piece is placed correctly.


26 Ja Kess December 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

How does one work the ease into the shoulder using this method? I tried this method a couple of times and results were unacceptable.


27 Stephanie February 26, 2015 at 10:23 am

Can this be used for woman’s blouse? I’m still learning to sew and before this I did make a shirt using this very method, but when I sewed a blouse, she told me to sew the sleeves separately and then insert them inside the armholes because I needed to move the meeting point (uh… the point where the front and the back of the sleeve met) of the sleeve about 1.5 cm to the front, because of woman’s armpit.


28 Stephanie February 26, 2015 at 10:29 am

I’ve never tried to sew clothes for male, before, so I don’t know if there are difference in the sewing pattern. Or if women’s armpits are different from males, or not.

Have you sew a blouse using this method? If the answer is yes, does the clothes feel comfortable in the armpit area?

PS:The ‘she’ in my previous comment (“she told me…”) was my teacher, btw.


29 Piarve April 15, 2015 at 10:10 pm

This makes so much sense. Usually I would sew the seam along the sleeve, before connecting it to the armhole, which always came with it’s own problems. I think my nect project will need to include sleeves so I can test it.



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