How to Convert a Shirt to Sleeveless




About: Enthusiastic hiker, quilter and creator with a passion for making the most of every situation and finding the best and easiest way to do anything!

In August, we suddenly had a heat wave in the Yukon (in northern Canada). Normally summer is almost over at this time of year, and when I went shopping for a sleeveless top, all I could find were down-filled vests and jackets!

So I decided to convert one of my existing short-sleeved shirts to a sleeveless shirt. This would also be a useful way to save a shirt if one of the sleeves gets damaged or ripped.

Step 1: Cut Sleeve Off, Except for About 5/8"

I cut off the sleeve close to the armhole, leaving about 5/8" of the sleeve fabric as a "facing" to turn under and create a finished edge.

Step 2: Finish Raw Edge

  • Thread your sewing machine with a thread that matches the colour of your shirt
  • Use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to finish the raw edge.

TIP - Test your zigzag stitch on the part of the sleeve that you have cut off, and adjust the stitch width and length until you are happy with it. You are just trying to prevent the raw edge from fraying, so you don't need the stitch to be a tight "satin stitch", but the stitches should be close enough to create a neat edge.

Step 3: Iron This "facing" Under

This thin strip from the former sleeve (which you've just zigzagged) is your "facing".

Iron this under with an iron, so that it lies neatly under the original seam which joined the sleeve and the body of the shirt.

Step 4: Sew Facing Down

Return to your sewing machine.

Use a straight stitch to sew the facing in place, sewing close to the zigzagged edge of the fabric.

If you've stitched this an even distance from the edge (e.g. 1/2" or 3/8"), this line of sewing will look just fine on the right side of the shirt.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Cool New Shirt!

This conversion to sleeveless can be done with a long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirt and takes less than half an hour.

Enjoy that heat wave!

And if you like this instructable, please vote for it by clicking on the Vote button in the upper right corner.



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    4 Discussions

    dragon fllyer

    1 year ago

    Did the armholes turn out OK? I've done this with t-shirts, but the armhole always ends up too big...

    1 reply
    YukonJuliedragon fllyer

    Reply 1 year ago

    The armholes turned out perfectly. This shirt was made from a woven fabric. T shirts will stretch more because they are made from a knit fabric, so I can see why the armhole might end up too big. It also depends on how the pieces were cut by the original manufacturer - i.e. the size of the armhole that the sleeve was set into. You can check to make sure the armhole is an appropriate size before cutting off the sleeve. Good luck!


    1 year ago

    hey this was great. basic but that makes it easily understood. thnx i just happened by this and instantly thought of a shirt id like to make sleevless

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Glad you found this helpful! I hope you go ahead and make your shirt sleeveless - it's pretty quick and easy. It would be great if you could post a photo of your shirt once you have converted it to sleeveless.