How to make a dress sleeveless

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I found a dress at the thrift store the other day that was brand new (still had the tags) and was in a really nice rayon fabric in a beautiful color. I tried it on and it fit, but I wasn’t thrilled about the sleeves. It had some serious prairie vibes. I’ve gotten rid of sleeves before, though, so I went ahead and bought it.

I’ve used this technique for making a dress or shirt sleeveless many times in the past and it always works like a champ, so I thought I’d photograph the process and make a tutorial for you here.

How to remove sleeves sewing tutorial

This method is super easy! So without further ado:

How to make a dress sleeveless

First, roughly cut off the sleeve, leaving a couple of inches of fabric.

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Next, IF you have a serger, use it to serge off the excess sleeve about 5/8” from the seam line. If you do NOT have a serger, carefully measure and trim off the excess, measuring 5/8” from the seam line. Then, use a zig zag stitch to finish that edge (if your fabric is a knit, you don’t need to zig zag it because it won’t fray).

I use the left side of my serger’s presser foot as a guide and run the sleeve’s seam line right along it.

How to make a shirt or dress sleeveless

So now you have this. You’re going to use that little piece of sleeve as a facing by turning it to the inside right on the seam line and top stitch it into place, 3/8” from the edge.

How to take the sleeves off a dress

That’s it! Give it a good press and you’re done.

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I still didn’t feel this dress was super flattering on me (pro tip: if you wonder if something looks good on you, try getting good pictures of yourself in it. If it’s super hard to get a good angle, there’s your answer, ha!) I’m slightly too busty for this style and the ruched waistline was hitting me more like a babydoll dress, making me look pregnant from every angle. Second, it came with a polyester knit lining and I will never understand why brands choose to put a completely unbreathable lining into a beautifully breathable garment. It felt stuffy.

But, it’s okay because I had a plan B all along. I went ahead and cut the bodice off the skirt just over the ruching, finished the top edge above the elastic, ditched the lining altogether and now I have a perfect summer skirt!

Dress into skirt hack

(My shoes are White Mountain footbeds). I love this much more as a skirt, but I still thought it was worth sharing the sleeve tutorial. I hope it’s helpful for some of you!

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70's Wrap Skirt

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

Last summer Casey and I were in Canyon City, CO and went to the BEST thrift store ever. Does anyone else visit thrift shops everywhere they go? It was there I picked up a vintage 70’s pattern for a wrap skirt. Then, in Denver last month I bought a fabric I knew would be perfect for this pattern. I was so excited when the result matched my vision!

Wrap Skirt

Below is a photo of what the pattern looks like. Check out the price! Haha. Vintage patterns typically came in just one size per envelope, you can see this one is size 16, which is larger than I usually make, but being a wrap skirt, I thought it would be fine and it was. (Read my post about making sense of pattern sizing here). This skirt actually even fits my girls, so they want to borrow it, of course. They tend to look offended when I make myself something they like for themselves, ha!

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I feel like a wrap skirt is one of those things that has always been and always will be in style. Obviously you can’t go out and pick up this pattern unless you look for it on Etsy, of course. But there are other wrap skirt patterns you can use instead. Below is the most similar I could find and while it’s out of print, you can still get it on Amazon!

Ooh and here’s a current Burda pattern that is also similar.

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I think I may use this pattern again, I like the non-wrap version also, although I may have to grade down the sizing on that one. I have lots more summer sewing plans, I’ve actually made a handful of things already, I’m just behind on blogging them!

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