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Fashion a Fine Cuff with Clever Folding

Gain precision with clever folding
Threads #219, Fall 2022


It is possible to attach a shirt cuff with a single line of stitching and have it look as neat on the inside as on the outside: Create the cuff separately, slide the shirt’s wrist end into the cuff’s open upper edge, and edgestitch through all layers to attach. For this technique to work well, it’s helpful if the cuff facing’s upper edge extends marginally farther than the outer cuff edge. This ensures that the facing edge is caught in the edgestitching, even though you can’t see it when you’re sewing from the cuff’s right side. 

I’ll show you a way to take advantage of the turn of cloth to offset the cuff’s upper edges for the perfect amount of facing extension. These steps show a simple cuff and facing cut as one, with a fold at the hem edge rather than a seam. You can adapt it to a shaped cuff if desired. Be sure to choose a shirting fabric that’s not slippery and takes a good crease when pressed.

Prepare the Cuff

Pressing the fabric layers with care is the key to establishing the offset edges. We’ll refer to the finished cuff’s outer layer as the cuff and the inner layer as the cuff’s facing. Remember that the cuff and facing are cut as one.

1. Interface the cuff/facing piece. Then, with wrong sides together, fold the piece along its foldline and press to form the hem crease. 

2. Mark the cuff seamline. With a vanishing marker or chalk, mark the cuff’s upper seamline on the fabric’s right side. Press the seam allowance to the wrong side. Alternatively, use a pressing template or gauge and press without marking.

Mark the cuff seamline.

3. Press the facing seam allowance down. Fold the work along the hem crease, with the cuff seam allowance folded in. Fold the facing seam allowance snugly over the cuff and press. This establishes the facing’s upper edge, extending slightly past the cuff’s edge.

Press the facing seam allowance down.

4. Prepare to stitch the cuff ends. Fold the piece, with right sides together, along the hem crease. Leave the cuff’s seam allowance folded under. Refold the facing seam allowance over the cuff allowance. This may be tricky to control, but only needs to be done near the cuff ends for about an inch. Make sure the new fold is exactly on the previous facing fold and that there is no gap between the layers. 

Prepare to stitch the cuff ends.

5. Sew the cuff ends. Stitch along each short end, reinforcing the stitches at the beginning and end of each seam.

Sew the cuff ends.

6. Complete the cuff. Trim the seam allowances at the cuff ends. Turn the cuff right side out and press. You should be able to see the facing edge extending just past the cuff edge. 

Complete the cuff.

Turn-of-cloth benefits

Working with the turn of cloth to create a marginal offset gives you superb control. The facing’s upper folded edge is parallel to the cuff edge because it was pressed along it. Therefore, evenly placed edgestitching on the cuff edge translates to even stitching along the facing edge. 

The raw edges on the cuff and facing seam allowances will be offset as well, creating a slight grading effect. This reduces bulk along the cuff seam. Thicker fabrics have a greater turn of cloth and, consequently, a greater amount of grading. 


Sharon Wilkinson explores ways to improve classic sewing techniques,


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