I don’t sew a lot for my kids because clothes are SO cheap new (and even cheaper used) and what with having kids, I have SO much less time to sew.
But I recently ran into a problem – my daughter hates short sleeved shirts. She’s 2 so you know, nutso. But people keep buying us short sleeved shirts for her, and she won’t wear them, even when they are special gifts from special people, you can tell it makes her sad they have the dreaded “naked arms” when she only wears “down sleeves.”
So she has about 5 long sleeve shirts that sort of fit her, and they are all worn out and ragged from being worn over and over. And the stores don’t sell long sleeves in summer (new or used!).
Yesterday I was going through her clothes and pulled out all the short sleeves, and all the leggings that show her butt crack and had a flash of inspiration. The leggings are really too worn to donate – she is a rough and rowdy kid – but too good to throw away – and too small to cover her butt!
Thus, combining them! I was able to convert about 6 shirts in a few hours. Even though not everyone may have a picky kid that won’t wear “naked arm shirts” I bet there are plenty of people looking to extend their kid’s wardrobe – including special items like her Big Sister Shirt that Grandma got her when baby brother was born. And re-purposing old clothes is so cheap (and eco friendly). Used leggings run about $1 a pair around here and new fabric is more than that!
The first method I did was just serging a long sleeve into the existing shirt – I think it looks cute and it is SO FAST AND EASY. Here are some photos of how it is done!
Ok this is my worst photo. Step 1 is coming up with a pattern for the sleeve. I used this one from a Peek a Boo Pattern shirt, but honestly it is easy enough to eyeball by using an existing shirt that fits them well. For some of the leggings I had to trim down the legs to make them into a sleeve – including these. But for some the legging was already the perfect width. For this pair, you could leave the extra width at the shoulder and make a little gather which is very cute. Because I was tucking this sleeve into the existing short sleeve, I wanted it to be a perfect fit.
You can see here I held the sleeve pattern up to the shirt and they are a pretty perfect match. Because frankly t-shirt sleeves don’t have that much room for variation!
So next you want to cut out your sleeves and if necessary serge the new seam. Be sure to make the top of the sleeve for easier insertion.
Then reach inside – if you have a wide neck shirt you can just peek in the neck area to do this – and pin the long sleeve around the serged edge of the existing sleeve.
If that is confusing see here for more clarification – what you are looking at here is the existing serged seam of the existing sleeve (wrong sides out) on top of the new sleeve (right side facing up). You can see the collar of the shirt (wrong side up) in the middle and then through the collar opening are the two sleeves layered correctly together.
Serge or sew the new and old sleeves together. I cut a little of the original seam off while serging but it isn’t necessary.
Ok, I think you are done! Turn it right side out and see how it lays. Make sure you try the first one on your kid before you make 10 more!
This is what it looks like inside the finished sleeve, if that if helpful!
My daughter loves them and is so excited to wear them! I have been having fun pairing together leggings and shirts from the donate pile to get new life out of her clothes!
Next I aim to make a tutorial of doing this by cutting off the original short sleeve and also showing how to add a ruffle to make shirts a little longer if your kid is also a skinny tall one.