Get Threads magazine!

Give a Gift

Video: How to Modify Sleeves for Better Arm Mobility

Ad-enabled single clip widescreen player

Video Length: 11:08
Produced by: Evamarie Gomez and Gary Junken

A Pro's Method for Optimal Sleeve Mobility

When it comes to garment construction, achieving the right fit is as important as stitching the garment pieces together. Sleeve fitting is no exception–-especially in fitted bodices.

During the 2015 American Sewing Expo, we caught up with pattern designer and instructor Andrea Schewe to discuss sleeve fitting and to answer our questions. Andrea has been a pattern designer for Simplicity Patterns for more than 26 years and graciously shared some invaluable fitting techniques she has learned along the way.

In this video tutorial, Andrea demonstrates three ways to modify sleeves for better mobility. She walks through the pattern work and shows how to achieve desired results.

What did you think about any or all of the techniques shared in this video? Will you try any of the methods? If so, which one? 

Watch more video tutorials from the 2015 American Sewing Expo

set fabric on the bias video   How to Set Fabric on the Bias with Julianne Bramson
secret to threading a needle video   A Secret to Threading a Needle with Ruth Ciemnoczolowski
bound seam hong kong finish video   Add a Bound Seam and Hong Kong Finish to an Unlined Jacket with Rae Cumbie

multiple thread   An Expert Tip for Working with Multiple Threads with Ruth Ciemnoczolowski
waistband without casing   How to Sew an Elastic Waistband Without a Casing featuring Nick Coman
strengthen thread   How to Strengthen Thread for Hand Sewing with Ruth Ciemnoczolowski


Comments (38)

Mihaela_Cristina Mihaela_Cristina writes: Thank you Andrea so much for your concise, clear and precise demonstration! Fab as always from you!
Posted: 5:40 am on August 4th

nutellacrepe nutellacrepe writes: What a nice tutorial! Clear, with enough details to be useful, but moves quickly. Covers a lot in just 11 minutes! I also like how practical her information is -- modify before sewing, modify after sewing. Thanks!
Posted: 9:18 pm on March 28th

bebrown bebrown writes: Thanks for the sleeve fitting ideas particularly adding a gusset. I've never been sure what size and shape to use.
Posted: 3:32 pm on July 26th

WilliamEtheridge97 WilliamEtheridge97 writes: I was looking for a guide for this for years! Thank you so much, really!
Posted: 8:19 am on April 27th

NancyGTK NancyGTK writes: My second comment after viewing this video again: VERY HELPFUL!!! Many thanks for explaining how to solve the range of motion problems we have when sewing sleeves. It's like - why did I not already know this? I'm sure I will need to refer back to your video in the future, so thank you again!
Posted: 11:13 pm on March 5th

Gailey Gailey writes: I agree with everyone else, very helpful video. It seems this is a common problem. So it begs the question, why do the pattern companies not make better fitting sleeve patterns to begin with. Forgive me if there is an obvious answer to this, I'm fairly new to sewing.
Posted: 10:50 am on March 3rd

EvamarieGomez EvamarieGomez writes: Hello All!

It's always great to hear from our current readers and those new to Threads magazine. I see that some of you have experienced some problems viewing this video.

We've tested the video on several different browsers and devices and haven't come across any problems. Please check your cooking blocking software. There may be cookies that you need accept in order for our videos to play. Also, try playing it in a different web browser.

If you continue to experience issues, please call our customer support line at 1-800-477-8727, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., Monday-Friday, Eastern Standard Time.

Evamarie Gomez
Web Producer

Posted: 1:34 pm on February 9th

Spiewaks Spiewaks writes: This is the best explanation for a solution to this armhole issue I've ever come across. Seeing it on a video is especially helpful. I'm not sure I would have followed this as well from a written description with photos. Andrea is a wonderful instructor. Thank you so much!
Posted: 2:48 am on February 5th

user-2059403 user-2059403 writes: Tried to watch the video and it wasn't working well as others have stated. LW

Posted: 12:12 pm on February 4th

JillStraw JillStraw writes: Thanks for this fantastic video! I have been struggling with the sleeve/armsceye fit on a dress I've been working on. This information is exactly what I need to finally make the final tweaks to get those sleeves to fit properly and allow me to move my arms! Many great ideas in the comments as well.
Posted: 1:25 pm on February 1st

newimage newimage writes: 60-Plus-Learner: Such a precise demonstration Andrea, many thanks from downtown Australia. danlpughdanlpugh in his very informative procedure about adding a gusset to a pattern before cutting the sleeve is great but my concern is that a gusset is usually cut on the bias so how would you incorporate this into cutting a sleeve normally cut on grain? I think the overall process would be great but i'm struggling with on-grain v bias.
Posted: 7:17 pm on January 28th

Kinde1 Kinde1 writes: Absolutely superb video and great explanation exploring multiple facets of the solution. Great for costumers as well as every day garment sewers
Posted: 12:44 pm on January 27th

SewLynn SewLynn writes: Doesn't work on Firefox for PC either.
Posted: 12:17 pm on January 27th

Irene17 Irene17 writes: Thank you so much for this tutorial, it's such a great help!!!
Posted: 11:24 am on January 27th

guidance4u guidance4u writes: This is a great tutorial! I got a lot out of it.'Thank you.
Posted: 10:31 am on January 27th

SAnderson92 SAnderson92 writes: Great tutorial! Simply tricks for amazinf effects!
Posted: 10:13 am on January 27th

Helen_in_Toronto Helen_in_Toronto writes: Wonderful lesson! I learned so much. Sleeves have always been a huge problem for me. Many times I cut 2-3 sleeves trying to get it right.

I would appreciate a lesson on how to properly modify cases when there is too much ease in the sleeve at the shoulder seam area. I hate that nasty puffiness. It's always a sign of a bad home sewing project. Personally, I have cut off 1/4 to 1/2 off the sleeve cap, although I'm not sure that's the perfect method. BTW, this problem usually occurs when using symthetic fabrics which do not have any "give" like wool does.
Posted: 9:56 am on January 27th

maidam maidam writes: I'm excited to try this. My boyfriend and I teach dance lessons. He asked me to sew him a tail coat but the tops of the sleeves kept bunching up!
Posted: 12:49 am on January 27th

MachelleH MachelleH writes: Absolutely wonderful tutorial! Thank you for explaining the why and how.
Posted: 8:45 pm on January 26th

glen622 glen622 writes: One of the best sewing videos I have seen! I have been struggling with this very issue, and this cleared up many questions. Thank you!!
Posted: 8:07 pm on January 26th

LorenaW LorenaW writes: Right on time! I am "fixing" the sleeve pattern and armscye on front/back shirt pattern for my husband's shirt pattern...this video will definately help me produce a wonderful fitting shirt.
Posted: 7:51 pm on January 26th

Mamato8 Mamato8 writes: Thank you for the demonstration! I like your gusset. I like fitted clothes. I have had those issues before. I have a co worker that does costumes. I can tell her about your video.

Thank you!
Posted: 7:51 pm on January 26th

Ms_C Ms_C writes: Wonderful! Thank you so much. This is great.
Posted: 7:48 pm on January 26th

NancyGTK NancyGTK writes: I especially appreciate the techniques for a completed garment. A close-up of the garment with the gusset sewn in would have been even better.
Posted: 7:36 pm on January 26th

user-3106855 user-3106855 writes: This video wouldn't play at all for me. I too am on a Mac.

Posted: 7:28 pm on January 26th

sandysewin sandysewin writes: That was a wonderfully clear explanation. Thank you!
Posted: 5:43 pm on January 26th

danlpugh danlpugh writes: I also learned a technique (from an English cutter, I believe) where one can cut the gusset pattern in half vertically and add each half to the underarm of the sleeve pattern before cutting out the sleeve--essentially adding the gusset to the sleeve as a piece, eliminating one extra seam under the arm--removing a bit of the extra bulk under the arm by sewing in a separate piece. The gusset should end close to the notches that match the sleeve to the armsceye (correct spelling--why does this indicate a sp. problem?) of the bodice. I think it makes it easier to set in the sleeve. I've used this technique very often in making costumes in my some 40 years as a costume designer.

Posted: 5:23 pm on January 26th

mjz mjz writes: I have a big bicep, so have to modify sleeves and armscyes all the time. This video helps me understand "how and why" of some of those changes.
Posted: 4:59 pm on January 26th

LyndaCriswell LyndaCriswell writes: The first few minutes of this video were excellent - then the video quit. I tried three times. Sometimes the tech people are not Apple friendly, but I hope you can work this out so I can enjoy ALL of the videos!
Posted: 4:35 pm on January 26th

LyndaCriswell LyndaCriswell writes: The first few minutes of this video were excellent - then the video quit. I tried three times. Sometimes the tech people are not Apple friendly, but I hope you can work this out so I can enjoy ALL of the videos!
Posted: 4:35 pm on January 26th

rr528 rr528 writes: What a terrific video! This is what I had always suspected, but it's wonderful to have a very specific how-to. Thank you!
Posted: 4:32 pm on January 26th

Barb05 Barb05 writes: That was one of the very best "how to's" I have seen for a long time. Thank you absolutely going to try this technique.
Posted: 4:28 pm on January 26th

decorchick decorchick writes: I create costumes for local schools so I'm using your patterns constantly. It was so great to meet you in this video. Your instructions were great. Thank you so much. I hope to see lots more from you.
Posted: 4:26 pm on January 26th

splainer splainer writes: What a superb video! Very useful information, clearly presented.
Posted: 7:05 am on January 26th

ZakFerdie ZakFerdie writes: Wasn't there a similar video here lead by a guy? He was explaining for both sleeves and pants. I think the experiment outfit was yellow. Good video by you nonetheless, you give very detailed explanation and fix ideas! Wife loved it!
Posted: 2:37 am on January 26th

Isabella1993 Isabella1993 writes: Quite complicated at the first sight :)
Posted: 2:24 am on January 26th

TheSassySEWer TheSassySEWer writes: My light bulb came on. Thank you for that thorough explanation of why some can raise their arm. I'll use this knowledge when teaching a class.
Posted: 9:00 pm on January 25th

user-1112563 user-1112563 writes: This was simply fabulous! Thank you!
Posted: 7:23 pm on January 25th

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.