How to Sew Sleeves for Denim Jackets

Written by mercedes valladares
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How to Sew Sleeves for Denim Jackets
Use tan or complementary threads to topstitch around the sleeve armhole. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

To sew sleeves for a denim jacket, you can recycle an old sweatshirt by cutting off the sleeves and attaching them to an outdated denim vest. Keep in mind, however, that stitching denim requires heavy-duty sewing machine needles that can pierce through layers of this sturdy fabric.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fabric jacket
  • Fabric scissors
  • Overlock machine
  • Seam ripper
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Heavy-duty needle
  • Tan or complementary thread colour

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  1. 1

    Cut out the sleeves from a complementary fabric jacket with sharp fabric scissors. For instance, if you are working with a fleece jacket, cut along the serged seams to reveal the raw edges.

  2. 2

    Coverstitch the raw edges with an overlock machine to prevent the fabric from unravelling. This is especially important if you have recycled a knitted fabric for the sleeves.

  3. 3

    Open the armhole of the vest wih a sharp seam ripper and remove the topstitching, exposing the raw edges of the denim.

  4. 4

    Iron the seams of the armholes flat with a warm iron. This will allow you to align and pin the fabric sleeves to the denim armhole later on.

  5. 5

    Repeat the step of coverstitching the raw edges of the denim armholes to prevent fraying.

  6. 6

    Turn the denim vest and sleeves inside out with the right sides of the fabric facing inside and the wrong sides facing out.

  7. 7

    Pin the fabric sleeves to the denim armhole by aligning the sleeve seam to the vest side seams with straight pins. The sleeve seam generally runs underneath the length of the arm.

  8. 8

    Change your sewing machine'needle to a heavy-duty sewing needle. If you are working with regular point or jean needles, referred to as universal sewing needles, the packaging most likely reads 18/110. The larger the needle size, the heavier the needle. These needle types, suitable for most heavy weight knit and woven fabrics such as 340gr denim, can pierce through as well as stitch several layers of fabric. Changing the needle prevents breakage or skipped stitches. Medium weight fabrics can use size 16/100.

  9. 9

    Lift the machine's presser foot and insert the underarm seam. Adjusting the underarm seam takes extra time because of the bulk from the fleece and denim. If you are working with a free arm sewing machine that has a removable or drop down plate on the machine bed, remove it to facilitate inserting the armhole.

  10. 10

    Machine stitch around the armhole slowly as you remove the pins. Continue to rotate the armhole until you arrive at the underarm seam again. You will stitch one full rotation around the armhole.

  11. 11

    Repeat the process with the remaining sleeve and cut away all loose threads.

  12. 12

    Stitch around the armhole with a tan or complementary thread colour with a double needle topstitch. One of the most common design accents in denim styling includes contrasting double needle topstitching along the seams.

Tips and warnings

  • Cut out elbow patches from leftover denim sleeves and stitch onto the fleece sleeves for a cohesive look.

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