How to Shorten Shirt Sleeves by Sewing

A sewing machine can help create an even hem.
A sewing machine can help create an even hem. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Shortening the sleeves on a shirt is a simple project that can be done by anyone possessing basic sewing skills. This project takes only a few minutes and requires few materials. The technique presented here can be used on any shirt that has standard sleeves. Shirts with frills or intricate designs may require a different approach.

Things You'll Need

  • Shirt
  • Scissors designed to cut fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread

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Cut the sleeves of the shirt to the desired length plus a half inch.

Heat the iron according to the manufacturer's directions. The specific temperature of the iron will depend on the fabric of the shirt.

Fold the raw edge of one sleeve under a quarter inch — be mindful to fold the raw edge to the wrong side of the fabric. Press with the hot iron.

Fold the edge of the sleeve under a quarter inch once more. This will bring the length of the sleeve to the desired measurement. Press.

Sew the folded edge of the sleeve to secure it in place.

Repeat Step 3 through Step 5 for the second sleeve.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use thread that is the same color as the fabric of the shirt so that the hem is as invisible as possible.


  • "The Encyclopedia of Sewing Techniques"; Wendy Gardiner; 2003
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