Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Quick and Easy Cuffs

I haven’t done a Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits  in ages, so here’s one inspired by discussion on Melizza’s blog the other day: My lazy way to sew a t-shirt cuff so that the serger does all the work!

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You may well already sew your cuffs like this already – but I know a few people don’t so I thought I’d share! 

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Step 1: Make a t-shirt, and prepare your cuffs. I ignore the pattern pieces for cuffs and neckbands. Instead, I cut a long rectangle and wrap it around my arm to get a perfect fit.

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Typically your cuff is narrower than the sleeve, so here’s my Lazy Tip…

Step 2: Instead of putting the cuff around the sleeve to sew it on, put it on the inside!  See how in the picture on the left, the sleeve is all jacked up inside the cuff because there isn’t enough space? To sew it on you need lots of pins (annoying) and you’ll need to stretch out the cuff which could result in a bulky, puffy seam. In the right-hand picture I’ve turned the shirt inside out, and put the cuff inside the sleeve. Everything sits nicely together, and no pins or stretching are needed!

Step 3: Sew! As you can see, I sew from the inside of the tube – that way I won’t accidentally catch the other side of the cuff. Use two fingers hold the fabric and gently stretch the cuff to meet the sleeve. The feed dogs underneath help pull the sleeve a little faster, which naturally eases it in. Adjusting the differential feed can also prevent the seam from stretching out.

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Step 4: Press. Any kind of folded band needs a good press to get it flat. If you find your fabric marks too easily, I often find that a burst of steam and a finger press does the trick. That’s all I did for this cuff, and the seam sits nice and flat now.

That’s it! Do you insert your cuffs the same way, or do you stretch them around the outside of the sleeve? I use the same principle when I’m attaching a bodice to a skirt, or a hem band to a tunic dress: the smaller circumference always goes inside the larger one, so the serger naturally eases them together.

p.s. If you are new to the blog, I’ve got a bunch of other Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits posted here! 


25 thoughts on “Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Quick and Easy Cuffs

  1. Great ideas. Thanks for posting them. Now, you said you also ignore the pattern piece for neckbands. Are you going to share your “lazy tips for knits” neckband edition? Mine are sometimes too long, so it’s annoying to have to pick it out and redo it.

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    1. Neckbands really are the holy grail of sewing knits, aren’t they? And there are so many different ways to do it. Here’s min: https://craftingarainbow.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/lazy-tips-for-sewing-knits-choosing-the-right-length/
      About 90 percent of the time it works perfectly for me… and every once in a while it’s a little loose or tight. If it’s waaaaay loose you can turn the band inside and topstitch it down like you would with bias binding on a woven garment… if it’s a bit tight I usually just live with it!🙂

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    1. How do you hem them? The nice thing about a cuff band is that when you push up your long sleeves, they are more likely to stay in place… helpful since I can’t soom to make it through the work day without up pushing up my sleeves!!!🙂

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    1. I find these little details of sewing so fascinating! I assumed everyone did it this way too ,but I’ve had several conversations with people who don’t!

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  2. Yes, I always sew my cuffs this way! You explained it perfectly. It’s just another one of those little sewing tips that make a big difference and save you a headache. 🙂

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    1. Yes! I saw a post on Thread Theory about sewing cuffs, and she had them all pinned to the outside and had to stretch like mad… that’s when I first realised, “Hmm, maybe this isn’t as obvious as I think!” (She did have a cool tip to put clear elastic in the cuffs of heavy-duty sleeves to stop the cuff from stretching out. I’d like to try it!)

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  3. That’s a great idea! I especially like measuring for your wrist–those pattern pieces are ALWAYS too big! I actually get lazier with my cuffs…I sew them on in the flat, stretching as I go, but then you can just sew up the whole sleeve in one go. The only bad thing about this is that you have to bury your serger tail, but on my kids’ clothes, I almost always do this because it saves me from having to sew a tiny tiny tube on my serger.

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    1. Oh my gosh, kids clothes! I hadn’t sewn any until this year, and I’m pretty sure I laughed hysterically when I saw the tiny cuff I had to insert! Sewing in the flat sounds much wiser in that case!

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  4. Yep, this is how I do it! When I first started to sew, I didn’t understand about sewing from the inside of the tube, so I would stretch it and stretch it to try to fit it around the arm of my serger… yeah, that totally doesn’t work out well!😀

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  5. First – I love that sweater!! I want to see it on you. The colours are fantastic! And the lace detail….gorgeous!
    Second – thank you so much for this. I have never done my cuffs this way, but you have me totally convinced to try it.
    Thanks Gillian!!

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  6. Okay, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I totally left a comment, and then it disappeared. So if this is a duplicate, I totally apologize! My internet is being sucky!
    Thank you so much for this post. I never would have thought to sew my cuffs that way. You gave me a total a-ha moment when you told me about it.
    That shirt looks so awesome by the way! I love the colours and that lace detail is gorgeous!!

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    1. So strange – my wordpress decided you might be spam!!! But you’ve commented here lots before, so who knows why.
      I’m so glad this makes sense! Lemme know how it goes!

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  7. I mentioned in your entry about measuring neckbands that I like to sew the band on the inside first then bring it to the front and twin needle a seam along the neckline at the front BUT seeing how you do this cuff this would work for a neckband as well – serge your band to the inside and wrap your band over the serged edge to the front and twin needle a seam along the front. The nice thing about serging is that it does ease better – I always attach elastic with my serger🙂

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