Sewing T-shirts Tutorial: puffy sleeves with elastic
Up next in my tee variations: the puffy sleeve tee. Puffy sleeve tees are super fun and elastic in the hem makes a great finish. It’s pretty tricky to make a casing on some knit fabrics and have it look professional. This method is really quite simple and gives it a store bought look. I mean, who wants to wear clothes that scream “my mom made it” ?? –that wouldn’t be awkward at all.
To do this method: After the sleeves have been sewn on and side seams sewn, cut 2 pieces of elastic 1 to 1 1/2 inch bigger than the arm circumference of the person who will be wearing the puffy sleeve tee.
*If you want the sleeve to fit snugly, then only add 1/2 inch to the circumference measurement for the seam allowances. We always like a little room and don’t like it to fit tightly.
Sew the elastic pieces into loops, making sure they are not twisted.
Mark both the elastic pieces and sleeve into quarters (4 equal parts).
Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the sleeve, matching the quarter points together.
Sew the elastic in place with a serger. Keep the edge of the elastic lined up with the raw edge of the fabric and stretch the elastic in between the pins to fit that section. Holding the elastic stretched, sew close to the raw edge. Make sure to remove the pins as they near the presser foot and readjust your grip on the fabric/elastic. Keeping the elastic stretched to fit the fabric in each quarter of the sleeve helps it to be sewn and gathered evenly to the sleeve.
Fold the elastic to the inside, so that it is now covered by fabric on both sides. Use a twin needle to sew the fabric to the elastic, thus covering the elastic. Working with the right side of the fabric facing up, stretch the elastic as you sew. Remember to use a long straight stitch with a stretch twin needle for best results. Don’t back stitch when you sew with the twin needle– instead sew past the point where where you began sewing. See this post for twin needle set up, and my yoga pants or swim skirt sew along for more help.
You can also use a zigzag stitch with a traditional sewing machine to sew the elastic to the sleeves and top stitch.
Trim any long threads and the sleeves are done.
These puffy sleeves work well with both the light weight cotton jersey knit fabrics as well as cotton lycra and interlocks. It does seem easier to do on the light weight jersey knit, like this rose floral print I used for the example. Questions? Clarification? please ask away 🙂 This method gives t-shirts a very finished and professional look, and it’s very durable as well. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.