How to Add Sleeves to a Formal Strapless Dress

Not sold on your strapless dress? Change the style with sleeves!

Photo: NA/ Images

Strapless dresses may often be in style, but that doesn't mean a girl should be stuck without sleeves against her will. Got a strapless-style dress you otherwise love, but can't stand the look of a great gown with no sleeves? Or maybe you like the look, but you're tired of tugging up the top of that dress all the time Take a page from any crafty stylista's book and construct your own sleeves to turn your sad, strapless dress into a fabulous wearable style.


Find a sleeve pattern that you like, or a sleeve on a garment you already own. Cut the pattern to your size, or trace the shape of the sleeve onto a piece of paper. If you've traced the sleeve, add seam allowances of 1/2 inch to all edges except the folded edge and use your sketch as a pattern piece.


Pin the sleeve pattern to a piece of fabric. If you are using a traced pattern, line the fold edge up with the fabric fold on a double layer of the fabric. Cut around the pattern to get one sleeve. Cut a second sleeve.


Sew the side seams of each sleeve together, 1/2 inch away from the edges. Zigzag stitch the seam allowances, and trim them to 1/8 inch.


Fold the sleeve hems 1/2 inch to the inside of each sleeve and sew them down along the edges.


Fold the armhole edges of the sleeves 1/2 inch to the inside and sew them down along the edges. Leave a 3-inch opening.


Measure the distance around your upper arm. Cut two pieces of 1/4-inch-wide elastic in this length plus 1 inch.


Slide the elastic through the openings in the armhole edges. Sew the edges of the elastic together, then slip them back into the openings. Sew the openings closed.


Put the strapless dress on and slide the sleeves onto your upper arms. Pin the upper side seam of each sleeve to the side of your dress. Sew the sleeves to the dress at the pins.

Things You'll Need


1.Sleeve pattern or sleeved garment


5.Measuring tape

7.Matching fabric

9.Home sewing machine





10.1/4-inch wide elastic


Tips & Tricks


You can also add thick straps or cap sleeves to your dress. Cut two long strips of fabric that taper at each end, then sew the tapered ends to the front and back of your dress. For a feminine, ruffled look, make the strips twice as long and add elastic that's half as long as the strips to the edges.

Do not sew sleeves with no elastic top edge, or you may have trouble keeping the sleeves from slipping down.


Related Videos




"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sewing"; Rebecca Brent Kemp and Missy Shepler; 2011

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