Fashion Advice: Can you Shorten Sweater Sleeves?

Dear TBF,

I wanted to ask if it’s possible to have sweaters altered. I have really short, T-Rex-esque arms, so it’s quite difficult to find long-sleeve sweaters (even in the Petites department) that don’t hang down over my knuckles. Is it possible to have the sleeves shortened, or should I simply resign myself to a life of rolled-up knit bracelets?

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Can You Shorten Sweater Sleeves

Answer: Yes, sweaters can be altered, but unless your handy with a knitting needle, it’ll cost you between $40 to $80 bucks. If the sweater sleeve isn’t too long (1 to 2 inches over the desired length) and if the sweater material is fairly thin (merino wool, acrylic, light cashmere, etc) then you can shorten it yourself. Just fold the sweater under to the desired sleeve length,  take a needle and thread that matches the color of the sweater and do a very simple stitch to hold the sleeves in place. Also, look for sweaters with sleeves that 3/4 length (which would be full length on you).

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Comments

  1. TBF says

    Both labor and the skill needed to alter knits raises the price.. Remember sweater knits tend to have a looser weave than say tighter knit fabrics like jersey knits, therefore you can’t just simply cut off the access and hem it with a traditional needle and thread. If you do, you run the risk of the entire sweater unraveling.

    The person doing the alternations would have to actually rib (create a finish to the sleeve or waist) to hem the garment and one would need to know how to sew or have access to a knitting machine to do this.

    To be perfectly honest, most of your standard dry cleaning tailors will not be able to perform this type of alteration

  2. charisse says

    $40? why does it cost that much to shorten sleeves? seriously? i can get jeans hemmed for $10. is it the fabric or the labor?

  3. Kirsti says

    I successfully shortened the sleeves on a cardigan that my brother purchased in Norway.  He intended it for my sister, but it was too small for her, but a little too long in the sleeves for me.  Since it was a drop shoulder, I turned it inside out and created a new seam that was about 1/2”  , more into the body and the sleeve.  I checked the fit by pinning first and then sewed using the overlock stitch on my machine. I haven’t had the guts to cut away the excess fabric but it doesn’t bother me when I’m wearing it since it is a little roomy as a cardigan.
    I couldn’t consider changing the length at the wrist because of a decorative stitch at the end of the sleeve.
    It worked great for me.

  4. mama knows says

    My grandmother would shorten the sleeves on everyday sweaters by taking a length of matching ribbon, the silky kind, and gently hand stitching the ribbon all the way around the sleeve on both edges. Then, she would go around her hand stitching with the sewing maching. Only then, she would gently cut the sweater sleeve off. Now, she would go back to her machine and zig zag the outside edge . (remember, she already sewed it down. this just cleans up the raw edges)

    Now, she folds under the ribbon and hand hems the edge. I have never had the guts to do it myself, but I have worn many sweaters she fixed for me.

  5. Bev says

    Thanks for the comments. But I did see on TV a bit ago about a women teaching you how to take up sleves on a hand knit sweater. The program was on during the day time , she was a Japanese lady or Chinese lady and she was teaching different stuff on knitting. Does anyone know the program that I am talking about ?????? Would love to know it and then I could write to the station/program, whatever.

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