How To Shorten the Sleeves of a Knit Sweater

Cut the sleeves short on your favorite sweater for fashion or fun.

Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

As with any relationship, falling in love with fashion can often require coming up with compromises. Any fashion fan can find herself struggling with options that aren't quite perfect, such as sweaters that are unsuitable in style, color or fit. However, you can find clothes that meet some of your criteria, and catch them up to the rest yourself. Whether you need to revive a vintage top, clean up a piece with questionable style, or simply take a new garment down to your size, you can shorten the sleeves of any knit sweater.


Put the sweater on so that you can see where the current sleeve length falls. Mark the sleeve length you want with safety pins so that the pins do not slip out from the knit.


Take the sweater off. Sew 1/4 inch below the safety pins to reinforce the fabric, using the zigzag or overlocking stitch functions on your sewing machine.


Cut the sleeves off 1/4 inch below the stitching and discard the excess sleeve fabric.


Fold the bottom edges of the sleeves 1/2 inch to the inside of the sweater. Iron the folded edges.


Zigzag or overlock stitch the raw edges to the sleeves to create new sleeve hems.

Things You'll Need


1.Knit sweater

3.Measuring tape

5.Sewing machine


2.Safety pins

4.Polyester thread


8.Ironing board


Tips & Tricks


You can also fold the sleeve hems twice to encase the raw edges, or cover the edges with a binding fabric, but this may create unwanted bulk.

Never sew stretch knits with a regular straight stitch, as the fabric will not be able to stretch.


Related Videos




"Sew Any Fabric"; Claire Shaeffer; 2003 "Sweater Surgery"; Stefanie Girard; 2010

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