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!

striped t-shirt with floral sleeves in floral background

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 in half and place your sleeveless shirt on top of the fabric, at a slight angle.

sleeveless t-shirt on top of fabric

2. Trace your new sleeve along the armhole (the purple dots). I use pins or tailor's chalk to trace.

sleeveless t-shirt placed on top of fabric

 3. When you're about to reach the end of the armhole, move back the armpit corner a bit and keep tracing. 

tracing new sleeve

Then, keep tracing down until you have your desired sleeve length. 

4. Cut out your sleeves and sew them closed. 

new sleeves cut out

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

sleeveless top and sleeve

6. 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.

sleeve pinned to the sleeveless top

Here is a closer look:

close up of sleeveless top and sleeve

7. Turn your top right side out and admire those new sleeves.

top with new sleeves sewn on

8. The last step is to hem your sleeves.
For hemming, I like to use a double needle.

close up of sleeve hem

New sleeves!
Not only is this an easy way to add sleeves to a sleeveless top, but now you can also switch up sleeves on other tops you may have in your closet. 
grey tee with striped sleeves
I refashioned this old striped tee with floral sleeves and a matching ruffle to tie it all together.
My absolute favorite pattern combo is stripes and florals.

striped t-shirt with floral sleeves

striped tee with floral sleeves modest refashion

This is another plain tee, that I refashioned using this sleeves to sleeveless tutorial. 
For this design, I added a matching pocket to tie the floral pattern of the sleeves and the coral color of the shirt together.

blush tee with white floral sleeve

sew much love mary blog signature


  1. Hi Mary. Thanks for this, I've been looking for a tutorial on sleeves forever. Just wondering how this might change for long sleeves. And what fabrics do you suggest for sleeves? Sorry I'm a complete sewing newbie!

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog. For long sleeves, I would use the method above to make the top part of the sleeves (the part that's attached to the armhole), and I would use a similar top to trace the rest of the sleeves (the length). In this older blog post from 2016, I traced new sleeves from the old ones. (http://www.sewmuchlovemary.com/2016/01/cutie-ruffle-sweater-top-sweater.html) As for fabrics, I've used pretty much a wide variety of them, except heavier fabrics such as denim/canvas. I hope that helps! :)

  2. Thank you for this sleeve tip, Mary. Very helpful. Lindy.

  3. Oh, what a good idea! Thanks! Do you trim off the armhole's finished edge before sewing in the sleeve?

  4. This is really a great tutorial. Love it! I am always freezing wearing my sleeveless or really short sleeve tops when it's winter out (I know, I live in CA but am always cold from November through March.) I am going to give this a try! Your directions are so clear I am really inspired.

  5. Hi Mary- thank you for this great tutorial! I have a sewing business and these directions were flawless!

  6. This sleeveless bodysuit is the ideal complement to your timeless edgy fashion sense and inner style quotient. Put this one and wow everyone you meet – they will swoon and admire the subtle styling, the fall of the fabric. Get ready for a fan following, once you wear this one! You are going to love it!

  7. thank you for the information provided, we are waiting for the next info at cara mencegah kehamilan

  8. Great tutorial! Can you show how to add sleeves to a dress with armholes higher up toward neck?

  9. Great tutorial! Is it the same process to add sleeves to a dress with armholes higher up towards the neck?

  10. Thank you Mary, you make this look easy to do and very pretty.

  11. As indicated by the 2005 report from the division of farming, the expense of bringing up a kid to the age of 17 will be around $500,000.00, that is a great deal of money. This figure incorporates lodging, taking care of, utilities, not simply clothing, that is only one youngster. This is the reason we need every one of the breaks that we can discover. More Info

  12. Some please recommend which product I should pick among the ones listed on this site.
    sleeveless tunic top

  13. Sphynx do not develop as quickly as cats with hair.

  14. Ventolin Şurup göğüste sıkışmayı, hırıltıyı ve öksürüğü azaltarak rahat nefes almayı sağlamaktadır. Ventolin Şurup 150 ml astım, kronik bronşit veya amfizeme bağlı bronkospazmı’nı tedavi etmek ve önlemek için kullanılır. Hızlı etki eder ve akut nefes darlığı ataklarını kontrol etmektedir.

  15. There are several companies that produce . This blog has been ss press fittings really essential towards providing some great knowledge with amazing content. Keep it up with the great writing.

  16. his is my first time i visit here and I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially it's discussion,Meanwhile feel free to surf through my website while i give your blog a read. thank you.
    click here
    lab puppies for sale near me
    labrador retriever puppies for sale
    labrador puppies for sale
    labrador retriever for sale
    labrador retriever puppies for sale near me
    labrador breeders near me
    labrador retriever breeders near me

  17. Fantastic website. I have read all the comments and suggestions here . Know About the visa requirements for Turkey . The requirements generally differ as per the visa type and differ as per the country status.

  18. Really appreciate this wonderful as we have seen here. This is a great source to enhance knowledge for us. Thankful to you for sharing an article like this.Year 6 T Shirt Designs

  19. Thanks for such a valuable post. I am waiting for your next post, I have enjoyed a lot reading this post keep it up.출장샵

  20. Your post is very informative for me about Best Mommy and Me Outfits. excellent post, I really like this post, thanks for sharing.

  21. I'm anxious to uncover this page. I need to thank you for ones time for this particularly magnificent read !! I absolutely genuinely cherished all parts of it and I furthermore have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. You can get a Free insulation grant under the ECO4 scheme if you’re considering a boiler replacement in the UK.

  25. How do you make it seem not weird with the combo of different colours and type of cloth? I want to add burgundy sleeves to a maroon dress but I didn't start because I'm afraid it will look weird.


Blog Design by Get Polished