Applying Sleeves from One Pattern to Another

Applying Sleeves from One Pattern to Another

Sometimes, I will see a pattern and fall madly in love with it only to realize it would be WAY better with sleeves- has this ever happened to you, too?

Honestly, the first time I realized wanting sleeves on a garment that didn't come with sleeves was my very own Matilda Dress pattern. It wasn't until I added sleeves- like real sleeves with a cap and everything- that I realized sleeves were what the pattern was missing.

So today, I wanted to share how you can get that perfect sleeve fit using your favorite TNT (tried and true) sleeve pattern on any garment that doesn't have sleeves!


Ok, Let's Get Started!

You'll want to gather some supplies first and foremost! You'll want to grab the following:

  • Your TNT Sleeve Pattern
  • The Pattern you wish had sleeves but doesn't
  • A ruler
  • Paper Scissors
  • At least two different colored marking objects
  • Tracing Paper

There are two things I want to note that are SUPER important:

1) Your woven TNT Pattern should only be used when adding sleeves to other woven garments and your knit TNT pattern should only be used when adding sleeves to other knit garments.

2) The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn't separate an armsyce (AKA Armhole) from it's sleeve. They are like lobsters- they mate for life and shouldn't be broken apart unless you want a really messy headache and years of counseling.


Now that we are prepped and ready, let's get to work! First up, you'll want to trace the following items:

  1. The front bodice piece of the garment that currently has no sleeves
  2. The front bodice piece of the garment that currently has no sleeves
  3. Your TNT sleeve

Once you have those pieces traced, grab your TNT pattern pieces. We will do one bodice piece at a time starting with the back bodice.

Lay your TNT pattern flat on a smooth surface. Feel free to tape it down if you fear it will slide everywhere as my tissue paper kept doing *ugh*

Next, lay your traced back bodice piece on top of your TNT pattern.

I generally start with my back bodice piece first because it usually needs the most finagling. I am not sure if there is an exact science to this, but I try to line up my two patterns (the TNT and the unsleeved pattern) up in a way that minimizes the amount I have to alter the overall shape of the garment. Remember, we are just altering the armsyce of our unsleeves pattern!

For this set of patterns, I tried to split the difference on where the armscye was lining up in relation to each pattern.

Once you are happy with where your patterns are lining up, go ahead and trace off the TNT armsyce in a new color.

I'm sure you can tell that my two patterns are quite a bit different. But fear not! That is where trueing the pattern comes into play! I am simply going to smooth out my lines as best as I can to make the pattern look correct or "true."

Then I will repeat these same set of steps with the front bodice, which should be a bit easier as my patterns lined up really well!

Before I go crazy and start cutting my new pattern out in my fancy fabrics, I am going to continue trueing it to make sure that the front and back pieces as well as the shoulder seams actually fit with one another.

Begin by marking your pattern with the seam allowance on the side seams and the shoulder seams. You'll want to do this to both the front bodice and back bodice pieces.

Cut out your back bodice piece completely, but leave your front bodice piece on it's tracing paper. If something is funky, we want some paper already attached to our pattern so that we can make those alterations!

Fold your back bodice seam allowances back, but leave your front bodice alone.

Finally, place your back bodice piece over your front bodice piece, matching underarms and the seam allowance lines together- this is effectively like "sewing" your garment together without actually sewing it! Feel free to tape these pieces in place for now to prevent them from sliding about.

As you can see, my pattern pieces do not line up. My back bodice piece is much longer than the front bodice piece. I could either:

  1. Make my back bodice slightly shorter OR
  2. Make my front bodice slightly longer.

Because I tend to have a longer torso than most patterns accommodate for, I chose to lengthen my front bodice piece. I also am of the mindset that I can always cut off excess fabric!

I also need to true up the dart as well as the bottom edge of the bodice pattern, so I will go ahead and do that. Your pattern may be a bit different, just be aware of every item that fits together and how one change might affect (effect?) another! And don't worry if you miss something small- this is all about learning and having fun and continuously improving our craft!

Repeat these same steps with the shoulder seams, making sure to match your seams up from the armscye to the neckline. We want to keep our new armsyce unchanged as it fits perfectly with our TNT sleeve!

Once everything is trued up, you are ready to sew up your new bodice with your favorite sleeve- yay!!


And if you like the combo enough, perhaps this will become a new TNT for your pattern shelves :)

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Hi Tina!

Nope, it does not matter if one pattern is sleeveless and the other is not, you may just need to tweak it a bit more to make the two fit together better. But you can utilize all of the same concepts listed above to transfer your sleeved pattern onto your sleeveless one :)

Brittani B

Does it matter that one pattern is not sleeveless? Follow the same principle? I want to use the sleeve from another garment instead of the one on the pattern Im mostly using.

Tina Grieve

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