How to… muttonleg sweater sleeves

Little lilac cardigan from the Salvy is the right color for spring and the right kind of soft. But the “Before” was too big and awful.

Screamed out for a refit; big sleeves made me think about trying a leg of mutton experiment on them. I think it worked; See what you think.

1. FIX BODICE Pin bodice, fit until right, then baste and sew. Neatly trim edges. Finish as you like, or leave them alone (Most knits won’t unravel).

2. DEAL WITH SLEEVES Cut sleeves off by slicing through shoulder seam, or by trimming all the way off. See where armholes fall – they’ll need to start right on the top of the shoulder for the puff to pouf up. I had to take a good inch off the top of the armhole. Now gather the top of the sleeve by sewing a long running stitch about 2 inches on either side of the top center, and pulling the underthreads.

3. SEW SLEEVES BACK ON Pin sleeve bottom to armhole bottom, right sides together. Pin sleeve top center to armhole top center. Gather the big part of the sleeve until it fits in the armhole. Pin well, baste, fit, stitch.**

lilac-11-booster.jpg

lilac-15-boosters.jpg** Here’s a little trick to make the sleeves puff up more.

Make a booster out of the edges.

Take the edges you cut off, and fold the short edge under. Sew with a wide zigzag. Fold that whole thing over and sew again. Trim. Take that little rectangle of stiff fabric and pin it into the gathered part of the sleeve seam so it pokes the pouf up. Sew it into the seam allowance, close to the sleeve seam.

4. MAKE THE LEG OF MUTTON (optional) If you like puffy long sleeves, stop. If you want to try the leg, lay the sweater flat and smooth it out. Figure out how long you want the pouf to be, and cut straight across sleeve at that point.

I did about 7 inches. Use one sleeve to measure the other sleeve.

Flip the bottom part inside out and sew a straight seam up from the cuff up to straighten out the lower sleeve.

Pin the top sleeve to the bottom sleeve at the underseam seams, right sides facing. Pin at the top centers, too. Gather the upper sleeve to it fits the lower sleeve, pin well, fit, baste and stitch.

Atta girl!

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    • Marnie
    • April 3rd, 2008

    Hey, that turned out really cool! Thanks for the tute… I must try it some time :)

  1. Wow, i love this idea. I have been meaning to try “recycling clothes” for awhile.

    • Layne
    • October 7th, 2009

    That is very nice, I have been asked to shorten a sweater with what a call a bigger weave, if I cut of take the sleeve off at the shoulder is it gonna pull apart???? Can I trim off about 1- 1 1/2 inches and then resew it into the arm hole? Have never attempted this. Thanks for your help

    • It can be done. You’re going to have to tread lightly and not pull on the raw edges too much so they don’t unravel. I think I’d baste a little stabilizer right near the spot where you’re going to cut *before* you cut to keep things in place while you work with them, and then lightly hand finish the raw edges before sewing them in with a little overcast stitch. I’ve done some chunky cotton sweaters – medium weight knit – and have just finished the edges really well with a wide wide zig zag stitch after cutting and sewing. Good luck!

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