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Hello everyone and Happy Tuesday!

I am currently working on my project for the week and wanted to share a trick that makes attaching sleeves a lot easier. If you are new to sewing, you might find the traditional method of “setting in a sleeve” a bit intimidating. The method below is the easiest way to attach a sleeve since it does not require you to sew the sleeve at the underarm seam and then sew the sleeve into the armhole. Please note that this technique only works on knit fabrics. If you are a beginner, I am including some tips and tricks at the end of this post, so be sure to check it out!

Step 1: Pin and sew the shoulder seams, with the correct side of the fabric facing each other



Step 2: Pin and sew the sleeve cap to the armhole from side seam to side seam.


Step 3: Placing the fabric right sides together, pin the entire underarm seam and the side seam as shown below:


Step 4: Make one continuous stitch along the underarm seam and the side seam. And VOILA! You are done!



Another reason I like using this technique is that it makes alterations a breeze. Let’s say you made something using a new fabric that you have not worked with before. If it ends up being too big, you can easily take in the sleeve and the side seam in one go, instead of picking up the dreaded seam ripper and removing the sleeve and then re-attaching it. If you are using a serger instead of a sewing machine, using a seam ripper is no fun!

To sew up any garments that are made with the knit (stretchy) fabrics, I prefer to sew using my Brother 1034D serger. I have been using this one since 2013 and I really love it. It’s a great machine at an entry-level price!

If you don’t have a serger, don’t worry! You can use your sewing machine with a couple adjustments!. I highly recommend using a stretch stitch (or a narrow zigzag stitch) on your sewing machine and also be sure to use a ballpoint needle. This needle is a lot sharper than your universal needle and will make sewing with knits a breeze! If you use a standard universal needle with a stretch fabric, you might experience bunching and ripping.

Once I am done sewing my garment, I go back and hem the sleeves, neckline, and bottom hem.  Personally, I love to use my Brother 2340 CV Coverstitch machine that I have been using since 2014. I got it for my 36th Birthday (self-gift) and It was the best gift ever!! It is an entry level cover stitch machine at a great price. If you don’t have a cover stitch machine, don’t worry!! You can hem a knit garment on your sewing machine, you just need to have a special needle attachment called a twin needle.

Here is the finished top I made using this technique. It is so easy to sew up! You have to try it!

I really hope that I inspired you to sew up something new. Sewing is not hard, I promise. It can be frustrating at first, but with every sewing project, you are going to not only gain skill, but you will also build confidence. I am still learning new techniques every day.  I watch sewing and patternmaking classes on BluPrint  in my spare time. I feel like there is so much to learn.

See you next time and until then, I’ll be hiding behind the seams 🙂

-Vatsla 🙂

ps. You can see my tutorial on how to use a twin needle

You can also see my review of the BluPrint learning platform here



1,873 Comments on How to attach a sleeve (The easy way)

  1. Hola:
    I really enjoyed reading this post. I found it to be sew helpful. ;- )
    I really like to learn the easy way of doing things. These shortcuts are a time saver. I can tell you the truth “I am hooked on your blog” :-).
    When I see a new posting from your blog it post a smile on my face.

    My heart fills with joy knowing that the sewing community is sew helpful. It’s bloggers like yourself that make sewing sew much FUN!

    By the way, I like your sense of humor. You are very transparent and we appreciate that in you. :- )

    Here is a quote I recently shared with another blogger just as vibrate as your soul. 😉

    A famous quote that William Shakespeare said:

    The meaning of life is to find your gift..
    The purpose of life is to give it away..

    Enjoy sew sister.

    • Hola Aracellis,

      Thank you for your sweet sweet comment. It made my day! I love hearing from you as well. Its great how a common interest can bring so many people together! Well I have a lot more shortcut tricks up my sleeve so stay tuned!

      That is such a great quote and so true! Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

  2. I wish I’d read this yesterday! lol I got mysef into a right state trying to attach sleeves lol Thank you for showing me a simple method..soooo grateful! 😀 x

    • HI Athena,

      I typed a LONG response to this a while back. I am just now noticing that my comment never got posted..

      So here are my views on this:

      The reason knits work better with the method is because:
      1. patterns for knits have a lot less ease in the sleeve so there is typically no need to “ease in the sleeve” (described below)
      2. knits can be stretched.. so even if there is the sleeve is larger than the armscye, the armcye (armhole) can be stretched a bit while sewing.

      If you want to use this flat technique with wovens, I suggest using it on a loose flowy top as opposed to a tailored garment (example button down shirt)

      You will not be able to use this method with coats, jackets because there is a signifcant amount of ease in outerwear garment sleeves. In those cases, you have to use the traditonal set in sleeve method.

      Few terms that will help you understand the above, in case you are not familiar with them:

      Armscye: This is the arm hole. Lets call the circumference of the armhole A
      Ease: The additional measurment added to the sleeve cap by the pattern maker to allow comfortable movement of the shoulder…Lets call this measurment E
      Sleeve Circumference: Lets call this S

      So lets assume your sleeve cirumference (S) is 16inches
      YOur armhole on the pattern might be 15 inches (A)
      In this case, the EASE on the sleeve is 1 inch (E=S-A), which is 16-15 = 1

      Also note that the ease only exists on the shoulder cap, which is the area on the sleeve between the single notch(front of the sleeve) and the double notch (back of the sleeve)

      Going back to our example… in this case, we have 1 inch of ease on the sleeve.. and before we attach the sleeve to the armhole, we will be doing a technique called “easing the sleeve” so that the sleeve can fit into the armhole without any gathers or puckers…

      The ease is usually a lot larger in wovens than knits… which is why the flay technique will usually not work with wovens.. but if you have a flowy loose top, you can work this flat method in.. however.. never in really fitted taolired garment.. Make sense? Let me know if you have any questions.


    • HI Kelsey! So glad this helped you. If you are wanting to try other easy sleeves tops/ dresses, try the raglan sleeve and dolman sleeve..The latest post on my blog is a raglan sleeve which is fairly easy to sew.. and coming to the blog soon is a easy DIY dolman sleeve.

  3. All I can say is; I feel like I have struck gold when I stumble upon your website and blog. I just love everything you have done. I’m looking forward to the next learning session.

    Blessings and happy sewing.

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