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How-to

Shape a Sleeve with this Easy Fold-Over Placket

Aug 08, 2011
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A fold-over placket softly shapes a straight, full sleeve.

Sometimes in sewing, like in everything else, we need permission to bend the rules. (To be truthful, I’ve always thought that sewing was a creative endeavor and that it’s a make-it-up-as-you-go-along activity – as long as it works and it looks good.)  This little trick is one of those rule-bending techniques. Why put in an open placket and cuff when a pleat and a button will do? Best of all, you don’t have to do a major pattern alteration or take anything apart. And with this faux placket all you need to do is unbutton to go back to the original shape of the sleeve.  

To Shape a Sleeve:

1. Make a vertical fold somewhere on the front of the sleeve (about 1/3 of the way from the underarm seam is a good place to start). Pin the fold in place and lap toward the outside or back of the sleeve to form a pleat. Do this while you’re wearing the garment to find the exact spot.  Pin mark the point where you’ve placed the fold. Make sure both sleeves are folded in exactly the same place.

Start with a straight, even sleeve.

Fold, pin, and mark the button placement while you’re wearing the garment.

2. Edgestitch along the fold from the hemline up about 3 – 4 inches so your placket doesn’t look like an afterthought.

Edgestitch along the fold.

3. You can sew a buttonhole on the fold and a button at the pin to create a closure or use one of the following techniques to finish your sleeve.

A crocheted loop buttonhole makes a nice closure.

4. Or use a snap to create an invisible closure.

I used a snap on this version for an invisible closure.

This convertible version has a wide facing at the hem so I can unsnap the placket and turn the sleeve up to form a cuff.

If you’re looking for more placket techniques, check out Pamela Ptak and Annina King’s tutorial on sewing a sheer placket and learn how to make a hidden button placket

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  1. guwoxygbly December 21st

    While these calculations are tied to the unique energy makeup of you and your home, ,Arcteryx Jackets

  2. Mamato8 August 22nd

    The first time I saw this treatment for a sleeve was on a pattern I sewed up about 18 years ago! It was part of the design! I thought it was a nice way to close up a sleeve.

    Another idea that may look more like design might be to put a band at the bottom of the sleeve that has the button and then the sleeve would pleat under the the band/cuff. What I am picturing is a short cap sleeve style.

    I keep trying to make shirts look more like blouses... I don't need a puff sleeve, because I have broad shoulders. White short-sleeved blouses are not be found in the stores. So I modify the shirts. I really don't want to be sewing up blouses if I can help it. I don't have as much time to sew as I would like.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas! It keeps me thinking of how I can use them.

  3. User avater sewold August 18th

    This one is an easy one to adapt to whatever I'm making. Thanks for sharing.
    Since someone mentioned a short sleeved shirt, I'll share more hemming idea. I turn up the hem to the finished depth, press the fold in sharply. Turn again where the raw edge lays. Press that fold and then edge stitch about 1/4" depth to enclose the raw edge. Press the seam up and you have a cuff effect.

  4. User avater thomy August 16th

    Re: "Denise" I save the page on my computer and put it in a "sewing" file. You can further sub categorize by arranging articles by topic ie construction, design, tip, etc. Save it using Google chrome and it opens up as a web page and with your browser so if you want to search from there, have at it! Also, I used a similar technique on a sleeve cap for a little shrug I just completed. Gave the "no sleeve" some flair.

  5. Carolebarrel August 13th

    I dislike button cuffs because they interfere with my watch and bracelets so I have aways cut off the cuffs on ready to wears and made 3/4 sleeves for summer to fend off chilly air conditioning or modified them some other way. Saved cuffs make interesting fringes for a skirt or jeans that match many blouses in your closet. Obviously I never throw anything away........

  6. JuliamaeSews August 13th

    Great article. I will try using this hint. However, it would be easier for me if I could at some point see the model's entire sleeve relative to her wrist.

  7. DeeCoz August 10th

    @denise, I find lots of inspiration on the internet. I tried several methods and found Evernote seemed to be the best way of organizing the images and articles. You can use tags and notebooks within the app to categorize inspirations. It's free for the basic service which has been fine for me.

  8. User avater Joyree August 10th

    I ALWAYS take my short sleeve shirt sleeves in somehow. I have used multiple little tucks in the last two. I hate huge sleeves on my skinny arms. I don't think it looks bad at all. Looks a lot worse to see your bra through the armhole.

  9. User avater Julibee August 10th

    I can really see this on the outside of a jacket sleeve, but if it's the only place it appears it is going to look like an afterthought. The trick is to make it look like a design feature. A jazz pianist once told me "if you make a mistake immediately repeat it - then it's a variation".

    Try picking up the sleeve detail on the front of the jacket. Omit or, if you already sewed them, unpick the shaping darts and make the same type of pleats there too. Why not add pockets on the front with the opening concealed inside the pleats?

    Have fun with the closures - instead of a button and crocheted loop why not a small tab with a buttonhole to give it a tailored look. Use more than one button, try decorative hooks and eyes, or interesting closures designed for necklaces (check any bead store). Try a box pleat and have one edge overlap the other and button together, or add a short 'belt' across it with a button on each end.

    You could use the same approach near the bottom on pant legs, or in place of darts on pants or a skirt - with the pocket opening inside the pleat to match the jacket.

    OK, now I'm inspired - I'm heading to my stash...

  10. User avater IreneT August 10th

    I remember doing something very similar when I first started sewing 40 years ago when a sleeve refused to hang nicely. I was ashamed of my laziness. I am afraid I still think it looks like a sewing error.

  11. denise August 9th

    problem,,,, will i remeber how to find this post, when i need it. recently before i start anything new i have been going through all my threads before i start sewing, just put a few each time you have coffee near you and go through the pages, anything that applies to your next project put aside.... So i hope the above will in included in a future magzaine, i am all so curious do the authors of these wonderful ideas go back and read our thoughts.

  12. denise August 9th

    problem,,,, will i remeber how to find this post, when i need it. recently before i start anything new i have been going through all my threads before i start sewing, just put a few each time you have coffee near you and go through the pages, anything that applies to your next project put aside.... So i hope the above will in included in a future magzaine, i am all so curious do the authors of these wonderful ideas go back and read our thoughts.

  13. denise August 9th

    great idea, i think also we get to rigid and just follow patterns seeing the experts do this gives us permission to be more creative, thankyou.

  14. User avater ipodgrannie August 9th

    I love this idea and probably have used it before. Sleeves are always too wide for me. I just ordered a jacket that is reversable and this is a great idea, because the sleeves are too wide again. I will investigate this idea. I have used something similiar on doll clothes as a different sleeve idea. It looks great.

  15. norwich August 9th

    sorry, this sleeve looks exactly what it is: a shortcut, reeking of made at home by an not so expert sewer. It might be allright for a blouse but a no no for a jacket.
    That apart Threads is a nice journal to have. Cheers Norwich

  16. Moonbeams August 9th

    I absolutely love this. I sew for dolls and I frequently have to do many adjustments due to thinner arms on specific dolls. I hate to cut into the sleeve. This is such a cool way to finish the sleeve. In fact, I already have an idea and several lovely buttons that will work perfectly.

    Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

  17. DrivesSewMachBest August 9th

    I am always having to use the fold-up method for my daughter's short arms. i'm going to try the 'button placket '!

  18. Kitrtymom August 9th

    Love it !!!I'm always looking for unusual closures. Thanks Threads--you came through again!

  19. WandaJW August 9th

    Great idea and something I probably would have never thought of doing. Sometimes a sleeve is too wide at the cuff and this is such a simple solution. And, also the suggestion by one writer for the same approach on a blouse. Thanks.

  20. russellgibson August 9th

    Very nice, I love this magazine

  21. sewgail August 9th

    What a great idea. Thanks for sharing. I have a jacket that would look better with a slimmer sleeve; I will try your technique.

  22. User avater CFields August 9th

    I recently used a similar technique on a short sleeved shirt I bought. The sleeves stuck out too far for my taste so I made a tuck, like the one showed here, and sewed a spare button on top to hold it down. Since it is a short sleeved, cotton shirt I just pressed the tuck and didn't edge stitch it or make a buttonhole. Just a Q & D alteration.

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