To go along with the skirt with attached shorts refashion I posted earlier, today I have a super easy shirt refashion that lets you take a favorite long sleeve tee and get it ready for summer with cute, elbow length ruched sleeves instead.
I started with an adorable striped baby Gap tee that I found at the thrift store for a dollar or two. It’s great quality and I really love the grown-up look of the stripes. My daughter kept pulling it out of her dresser to wear, even when it started getting too warm for long sleeves. It’s easy enough to make long sleeves short by cutting them off and hemming, but making her gathered skirt gave me the idea to do ruched elbow length sleeves instead. Ruched sleeves have gathers on the top and bottom of the sleeve. It’s one of those small details that makes a plain t-shirt feel a little dressier, or (if you’re a little girl) a little like something a ballerina would wear:
The good news is that this refashion is super easy! Start by cutting a few inches off the bottom of the sleeves (so the sleeve reaches to just under the elbow):
If your knit is lightweight, there’s a good chance the raw edge will roll up once it’s cut. Give it a gently stretch and see if it rolls. If it does, that’s great! – no need to hem. The shirt I used is made from rib knit, which doesn’t roll and can get kind of grungy looking if you leave the edges raw, so I sewed a quick hem on each sleeve.
Now, you want to load elastic thread into your bobbin. Elastic thread is really easy to work with and super cool! It’s what you use to shir, and if you’ve never tried it before check out this quick shirring tutorial to learn how to use it.
All you need to do to ruche your sleeves is to sew a “V” top of each sleeve with elastic thread (see photo below). Start at the sleeve hem, backstitch, and sew directly up toward the shoulder (keeping the bottom of the sleeve out of the way as you sew). When you get a few inches from the shoulder seam put the needle down, pivot the shirt, and sew back down to the hem. Backstitch again and clip your threads. I like to tie the elastic threads to each other in the back to make sure they don’t come undone.
NOTE: If you don’t have elastic thread on hand, you can ruche the sleeves with elastic instead. Check out this ruching fabric tutorial for instructions.
If you look closely you can see the stitches in the photo below. Hit the stitching with some steam from your iron and the elastic thread will bunch up, gathering (or ruching) the sleeve (2nd photo below).
Repeat the process on the underside of the sleeve as well, sewing on either side of the seam.
It’s a simple way to give a tee a little more personality while getting it ready for summer!