How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?

Written by ruby gibson
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How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?
A strapless dress can sometimes require too much readjustment or not enough coverage. (woman back in blue dress image by Paul Retherford from

For some, a strapless dress provides a wonderful addition to a warm weather wardrobe, but sometimes sits in the closet during the colder months of the year. For others, it is a piece that requires constant tugging and readjustment. Whatever your relationship with the strapless dress, it is a piece that can be easily altered and perfected to your liking. Begin by deciding which sort of alternate style you prefer: spaghetti straps, cap sleeves or long sleeves.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Sewing skills (optional)

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  1. 1

    There are many types of straps that you can add to a strapless dress. A simple spaghetti strap would provide you with some support and can be detachable if you so desire. Find and attach finished straps that match or coordinate with your dress colours.

    How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?
    A thin strap provides minimal coverage and will keep dress in place. (dress image by Gina Smith from
  2. 2

    Cap sleeves would provide more shoulder coverage. In a casual situation, find a matching or coordinating cap-sleeve T-shirt and simply wear it underneath your dress.

    How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?
    Cap sleeves provide extra shoulder coverage and will keep your dress secure. (red dress image by nutech21 from
  3. 3

    If long sleeves are more your style, find a stylish bolero or shawl to add to your dress.

    How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?
    Adding a shawl or bolero is a quick way to change the look of your strapless dress. (girl in shawl image by Alexander Zhiltsov from
  1. 1

    If you'd like to add permanent spaghetti straps to your dress, find matching fabric or ribbon and tack both the front and back of the dress.

    How Do I Add Sleeves to a Strapless Dress?
    Pick a matching fabric or stylish ribbon to accentuate your dress. (fabric swatches image by Empath from
  2. 2

    To arm your dress with cap sleeves, measure your fabric and cut into a horseshoe shape. This piece should be able to cover your arm, reaching from the front of the dress to the back. Be sure to pick a fabric that meshes well with your dress. Sew a simple hem along the long sides of the horseshoe. Then, attach the unhemmed edges to the strapless dress.

  3. 3

    If working with a shawl, use it to add sleeves to your dress. Find the centre of the shawl and attach with a pin to the front centre portion of the dress. Drape the ends over your shoulders and fix them in to the back of the dress. Adjust according to how much of a tail you desire.

Tips and warnings

  • If none of these options seem to work for you, find a trusted tailor and ask what they can do with your dress. They will have experience with this sort of request and will probably have ideas for the best fabric and style for your specific strapless dress.

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