How To Shorten Sleeves

Learning how to shorten sleeves not only requires a little skill but patience. Shortening sleeves requires time and accurate measuring. If you have never tried a sewing project like this one, learning how to shorten sleeves can be daunting and the outcome may not be what you expected. However, there is a little trick that stylists and people in the fashion industry use to shorten sleeves on the fly. This little trick of the trade works better on a dark colored garment but if you’re in a bind, it will work on a lighter garment as well!


  • Dark colored (preferred) shirt or light jacket
  • Large Rubber bands 3/8 ths inch wide


  1. Put your shirt on as you normally do.
  2. Fasten the cuffs and make sure all the buttons are fastened, especially the small button that is inside the cuff opening.
  3. Slide rubber bands over buttoned sleeves into the crook of your arm and right below your elbow. Warning, make sure the rubber bands fit comfortably and do not cut off your circulation. You want just enough pressure to hold the shortened sleeves. Do not try to use a rubber band  thinner than 2/8 to 3/8. The small, thinner rubber bands will not hold the shortened sleeve. Most of the time, they will break before you finish sliding them over your forearm.
  4. Start to shorten sleeves by gently pulling the sleeve fabric up from under the rubber band until the shirt sleeve is at the right length
  5. The last step to shorten sleeves is to take the excess fabric that you pulled above the rubber band and fold it over the rubber band to hide it. Make sure it is covered all around your arm.
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