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Shortening sweat jacket cuffs

myca99 | Posted in General Discussion on


I’m fairly new to sewing, but I have to shorten all arms and legs of everything I buy by 2″.  I’m doing ok with alterations on wovens, but I’m having a harder time with the knits, like sweat jackets. 

My machine has stitch setting for stretch, and I tried to use a stretch straight stitch for reattaching the cuff to a sweat jacket.  However, I have to pull cuff behind the presser foot because it doesn’t advance like it should if I don’t.  This results in a stretched out cuff once I’m done.  Should I not be using a stretch stitch?  The sweat jackets I’ve tried have been ribbed velour and a ribbed cotton. 



  1. suesew | | #1

    Turn the sleeve inside out. Pin the cuff inside the sleeve - matching quarter points. You will be sewing inside the circle with the cuff on top. You can use a straight stitch - probably with a ball or universal needle. Now gently stretch the cuff to match the sleeve. You may have to help it from behind as well. Don't over stretch anyhthing. After you have stitched around the whole thing , take a look at it to see if everything looks ok from the right side. Then you can overcast the edge with a zigzag stitch. I don't use the stretch stitch because there is a lot of extra movement and stretching going on. Also since I'm stretching the cuff to lay flat against the sleeve, there will be plenty of give to get my hand into the cuff.

  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    Lucky you to have the option of shortening things! Most things are too short for me and lengthening ready to wear clothing is not so often possible.

    You can gather the sleeve to almost the size of the cuff and pin it evenly on. Find and mark quarter stections before you gather. To sew the cuff on I like to use a stretch stitch that looks like a combination of zigzag and straight, sort of like a hem stitch. If you don't have that then a narrow zigzag with a short stitch length can work. With the gathering method you can probably use the straight stretch stitch as well, just don't sew on the gathering stitches or you won't be able to pull them out. When the sleeve and cuff are stitched together the gathering thread is removed. Try to put the cuff fabric on the bottom when you sew so the feed dogs can pull it along.

    1. suesew | | #4

      I respectfully disagree with putting the cuff fabric on the bottom. It almost always works better to put the longer fabric against the feed teeth so they are helping to ease the fabric to match the shorter one.

      1. Elisabeth | | #7

        Mmm, yes, but I described a method with the fabric gathered to the size of the cuff in this case and the gathered sleeve would be the more stable layer.

  3. stitchmd | | #3

    If your sleeve isn't advancing you probably need to ease up on the presser foot pressure. Some machines can do this in adjustable increments, others have a couple/few settings.

    If your machine doesn't do this you can always try lifting the foot, pushing more fabric under it, taking a stitch or two, lifting the foot and readjusting, etc. Quite a PITA but it should work.

  4. rekha | | #5

    I used to have this problem but since I got myself a walking foot life with sewing is just wonderful

    1. myca99 | | #6

      Ok, thanks everybody.  I found the presser foot pressure last night and it seemed to work much better and it also explains why I made such a mess of the tricot shirt I'd tried last month. 


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