How to Add Sleeves to a Sleeveless Top (or Dress!)

When I first started to refashion garments in my closet, I would add sleeves to my sleeveless tops and dresses. This and lengthening dresses is what I first did when I began to refashion. Even though I've shown the tutorial throughout various posts, I decided to make an "official" tutorial post. 

While I do wear sleeveless tops on occasion, I prefer sleeves, so learning how to make and add sleeves was a must for me!

Sleeves can be sort of tricky to draft, but this is a simple and easy way to make and sew your own sleeves. This isn't an official sleeve pattern drafting tutorial, but rather a method anyone can easily apply and use. While I was in school, I took pattern drafting classes and I realized I did not like pattern drafting at all, lol! To this day, everything that has to do with patterns is my least favorite part of sewing, such as tracing and cutting out patterns. 

I've used this quick and easy method since 2015, and it's worked for all my tops! :)


1. Fold your fabric over, as shown.

2. Place your sleeveless top on top of the fabric, at an angle, as shown.
Trace your new sleeve along the pink dots. I use pins or tailor's chalk to trace.
At the blue circle, pull back the armpit corner, just a bit, and trace there.
Then, keep tracing until you have your desired sleeve. 
(In this example, I made elbow length sleeves)

3. Cut out your sleeves and sew along the pink dotted line. 

4. Turn your sleeveless top inside out and turn your sleeve right side out.

5. Place your sleeve inside your top, as shown below. 
The blue dots show the sleeve laying inside the top.
The pink dots show where the sleeve is pinned and sewed to the top.

Here is a closer look:

6. Turn your top right side out and you have new sleeves!

7. The last step is to just hem your sleeves.
I used a double needle.

New sleeves!
Not only is this an easy way to add sleeves to a sleeveless top, but also to switch up sleeves on other tops you may have in your closet. For example, try adding floral sleeves to a plain tee for an instant pop! :)

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