2 quick and neat alternatives to a sleeve placket

Depending on the design of the sleeve you’re sewing and what fabric you’re using, there are several alternatives to a traditional sleeve placket if you want it to look just as well made but with less effort.

A traditional sleeve placket works great for a more tailored or formal look It also has a slightly more masculine feel to it. If you want to go for a more relaxed vibe or a tad more feminine, or just want a change from the conventional, here are two great alternatives for you when you’d like some variation.

Alternative 1 - Sleeve slit with binding

If your fabric is light- to mid-weight, for example, viscose/rayon, cotton blends or silk, it’s easier to get a polished look by using a binding. You can sew it in the same fabric you’re using for your shirt or blouse, or you can use a contrasting fabric to add som fun or drama.

What you need:

  • A sleeve
  • The binding – a piece of fabric about 2.5 cm / 1 in wide and double the length of the sleeve slit (plus seam allowance) cut on grain i.e. the same direction as your sleeve.
  • A sewing machine with a straight stitch
  • An iron

How you do it:

  1. Mark your sleeve with chalk or a self-erasing marker (test it first on a scrap of your fabric to be sure it actually disappears) and cut it open.
1 Cut the sleeve slit_

2. Fold the slit open and pin the binding to it. Mark at 1.5 cm / ⅜ in on both sides of the slit top.

2a Fold pin and mark
Fold viewed from the other side
Fold viewed from the other side

3. Sew the binding to the sleeve from the wrong side with a 6 mm / ¼ in seam allowance. 

Narrow the seam allowance at the 1.5 cm / ⅜ mark, to about 3 mm / ⅛ in to shape a pointy top, then widen it to 6 mm / ¼ in again at the other side and sew the remaining binding to the sleeve slit.

To avoid creases, fold the sleeve the same way as you did when you pinned the binding to it.  Sew all the way to the tip, fold over the fabric fold past the needle (away from you) then sew the remaining seam on the other side of the slit.

3 Sew binding

4. Reinforce the seam by making a second row of stitches at the top.

4 Reinforce seam at top

5. Fold under and press a narrow hem, about 6 mm / ¼ in wide, along the other side of the binding. 

5 Press narrow hem

6. Turn the pressed binding to the right side of the sleeve and sew the folded edge to the sleeve with a topstitch about 1 mm / 1/16 in from the edge.

6 Finish the binding

7. Lastly, square off the top at a 45-degree angle, on the wrong side of the sleeve, to keep it closed when worn. Press the front edge of the slit over the back edge without making a crease at the top of the sleeve slit. 

7b square off corner

Alternative 2 - Sleeve slit with facing

If you’re sewing with a mid- to heavy-weight shirt fabric, like flannel or crepe, for example, it’s easier to get it neat, flat and even, if you use a facing.

What you need:

  • A sleeve
  • The facing – a piece of fabric 3-4 cm / 1 ¼ -1 ½ in wide and about 2 cm / ¾ in longer than the sleeve slit
  • A sewing machine with a straight-, and a zigzag or an overlock stitch (if you don’t have an overlock/serger)
  • An iron

How you do it:

  1. Mark your sleeve and facing.
1 Mark sleeve

2. Lay the facing on top of the sleeve marking, right sides together, and pin. Mark the end of the slit with a pin or chalk and put another mark about 2.5 cm / 1 in down from the end.

2 Pin facing to sleeve_

3. Sew around the facing about 2 mm / ⅛ in from the slit marking.

At the first dot (orange line), narrow the seam to a point. At the top dot, pivot 45 degrees, make 2 stitches perpendicular to the sleeve hem. Pivot again and sew towards the dot on the other side, and then straight down to the edge.

Make a second seam around the top to reinforce it.

4. Cut the slit all the way to the top, but not through the stitches.

4 Cut open

5. Turn the facing to the wrong side of the sleeve and press. Make sure the seam is invisible from the right side.

You’re going to have to tug the fabric a little at the top to smooth any wrinkles. Don’t press from the right side of the sleeve, there will be press marks and they’re almost impossible to get rid of.

5 Press

6. Topstitch around the facing from the right side.

6 Topstitch

7. On the wrong side, finish the edge of the facing with an overlock or zigzag stitch.

Press again, still from the wrong side of the sleeve.

7 Finish the edges

Here are two examples of how these finishes can look on real sleeves.

2 Sleeve slit options

So, there you have it, two different ways to add variation to your sleeve slits.

Sew great!

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