sewing on sleeves flat

When I learned to sew, I was taught to sew sleeves separately and then insert them into the armhole on a dress or shirt. This is the method I use most often and the method outlined in the 90 Minute Shirt Tutorial and Beach Robe Pattern.
But there’s always more than one way to do things. So I thought I’d share an alternate method for sewing on sleeves. This is the same method used in the Shirt Dress Tutorial. The top of the sleeves are sewn to the armholes before sewing the sides of the dress or robe closed. So if this method makes more sense in your creative mind, use it for all your shirts, dresses, and robes!

Okay, let’s get started. We’ll try it out on this cute striped robe, made for my friend’s new baby (striped towels from IKEA).
Following the Beach Robe Pattern (or other tutorial), cut out your pattern pieces.
Sew the fronts and back of the robe together at the shoulders, but do NOT sew down the sides of the robe.
Lay the Robe flat on the table, and you can see that the sleeves fit right inside of those semi-circle armholes.
With right sides of the fabric together, pin each sleeve to the armhole curve. The fabric will bend/curve up as you pin (since a sleeve is round). Sew each sleeve to the armhole.
When you’re done it should look like this. Simple, right?
Now fold the whole thing in half (with right sides of the fabric together). And its starting to look like a robe.
Pin the sleeves and side seams together. Remember, if you’re using partial ties (outlined in the pattern), you need to add them into the side seam now.
Then start at the end of the sleeve, sew all the way down, around the armpit, and down the entire side of the robe. Do this for both sides of the robe. When you get to the armpit, stop sewing, leave your needle down in the fabric, and lift the presser foot to shift/turn the fabric. Then continue sewing. For stronger reinforcement, forward and back-stitch a few times at the armpit.
Continue sewing the robe as outlined in the pattern. And you’re done!
One cute robe ready to wrap up and gift away.
And I have to say, I was on the fence about the white bias tape (vs. navy blue or red). But in the end, I love the white. Feels fresh and clean.
Have a great Thursday!

  1. This is a great way to sew sleeves. I’ll have to try this on my next project! Thanks for sharing (^_^)

  2. wow….have thougt of that – just havent had the confidence ..! THNX for sharing i’ll try !!:thumbsup:

  3. Whenever I use this method to sew sleeves together, there are little gathers under the armpit on the garment, any suggestions for how I can avoid this problem? This is definitely an easy way to sew sleeves, I just don’t know why it looks so bad when I do it!

    • 4) Dana

      I would try snipping small cuts in the seam where it curves. This might help it lay more flat. If not, you can always sew sleeves on the other way!

  4. Oh! This is exactly how I do it. šŸ™‚

  5. 7) ChinaDoll

    Wow! thank you for an awesome tutorial!

  6. 8) Bola

    Can you explain how you cut the hood and sewed it on the robe.This is a great idea,thanks for the clue

  7. That’s how my mama taught me years ago! It’s my favorite method.

  8. 10) Melissa

    I have been terrified of sleeves… this will help me so much! Thanks!

  9. 11) Korede

    Thanks will try ds out.

  10. I am so glad I found you this morning. I was wondering how I would sew the priest garments for the filming when I am not a professional. You are an answer to prayer.
    From Brazil, Sonia

  11. 13) Arline

    Thank you!!! This worked brilliantly!!

  12. 14) laura

    thank you! I have been looking for an easy way to sew on sleeves! also, the beach towel robe a great idea too!

  13. 15) Marie Nichols Britt

    I’m in process of making a 3xlt fleece pullover for my hubs and was stuck on the arms. This looks great. Thank you!

  14. 16) Lily

    Thank you so much. One of the greatest difficulties I face is sewing on the sleeve. You make it look so easy. I will try this method when I next sew my blouse.

  15. 17) Sophia

    Wow this made it SOOOO simple!!!

    Thanks a bunch for the tutorial

  16. 18) Surya

    this is very smart!

  17. This is beautiful and very simple looking especially with the pictures! Thank you so much

  18. 20) bev parsons

    dream tosew!

    • There are at least two of these: dolman and kimona.

  19. 22) chris

    brilliant! so simple… that’s hat i am all about. šŸ™‚

  20. 23) Ramona Walter

    Loved this information. Made my life a lot easier.

  21. 24) Jean

    Off topic I know, but is the side seam of the front on grain? If not, how should I establish the grainline?

    • Don’t worry about grain line at the side seam. It is down the center of the fronts and the center of the back that the fabric should be exactly on grain. Side seams can be shaped with no problem if the center of the piece is placed correctly.

  22. 26) Ja Kess

    How does one work the ease into the shoulder using this method? I tried this method a couple of times and results were unacceptable.

  23. 27) Stephanie

    Can this be used for woman’s blouse? I’m still learning to sew and before this I did make a shirt using this very method, but when I sewed a blouse, she told me to sew the sleeves separately and then insert them inside the armholes because I needed to move the meeting point (uh… the point where the front and the back of the sleeve met) of the sleeve about 1.5 cm to the front, because of woman’s armpit.

  24. 28) Stephanie

    I’ve never tried to sew clothes for male, before, so I don’t know if there are difference in the sewing pattern. Or if women’s armpits are different from males, or not.

    Have you sew a blouse using this method? If the answer is yes, does the clothes feel comfortable in the armpit area?

    PS:The ‘she’ in my previous comment (“she told me…”) was my teacher, btw.

  25. This makes so much sense. Usually I would sew the seam along the sleeve, before connecting it to the armhole, which always came with it’s own problems. I think my nect project will need to include sleeves so I can test it.

  26. 30) Salome mouton

    Thank you, thank you! Seems a lot easier, definitely going to try it!

  27. 31) byanca


  28. 32) Angel Jones

    As always, you are simply amazing. Thanks for helping me over come my fear of sleeves!

    • 33) Dana

      Thanks Angel šŸ™‚ Have fun sewing!

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