Shortening Chiffon Sleeves

One of my brides from last year called and told me that she had a jacket that just needed the sleeves shortened to wear to her nephew’s wedding. I agreed to see the jacket as it sounded simple…but you know it won’t be!

All it needed, she explained was to shorten the sleeves by 3 inches but…the big BUT…she didn’t want it shortened at the wrist because it was beaded there, it had to come from the top…oh no…not from the top!

For all of you who dread working with chiffon…take heart, it can be tamed!

What is the first thing to do? Well, how about thread tracing the new seamline. Do you see that the beading that is in the way? What fun this will be!



Also, thrown into the mix is the original seam. It looked like a French seam from the outside but is not. It is a bias binding. Let’s remove it and save it in a circle and spray starch it for later.


Let’s remove the sleeves (3 rows of tiny tiny stitching) and start removing the beads that will interfere with the new seamlines. Two lines of running stitches will have to be used to make the cap of the sleeve. These are done by hand instead of machine. Trim off 3 inch excess all around.


Then hand baste the sleeve into position and test to see if it looks ok.


With both sleeves basted in, then I machine stitch them and move unto the bias binding. It works well after spray starching and I can still follow the original folds and stitching lines. Pin and hand baste again.


Machine stitch and then flip to the backside and hand stitch.


The finished project so you can see why the hem of the sleeves needed to be preserved.


The close up of the new seams…they still look French don’t they?


So in the end, this simple job managed to take over 2 hours. When I mention to her that I have my son’s wedding to attend in Calif. in July, she offered to lend me her dress and jacket. I thanked her but said I would not look my best in brown.

One bit of good news this week, after a weekend of negotiating with 2 prospective buyers for my parent’s house, one finally offered the asking price so now we just have to wait for the escrow to close later this summer. All the hard work has paid off!

Stay cool and hydrated, my friends and thank you for dropping by!

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33 Responses to Shortening Chiffon Sleeves

  1. Jane M says:

    Gorgeous work and thank you, as always for such great detailed pics. Congrats on the house offer as well. I know how much work goes into the process.

    • mrsmole says:

      It does seem endless selling someone’s house and it is truly wonderful to sit down now and say, “we did it”…but we never want to go through this again!

  2. Wendy Walker says:

    I can’t imagine how you did that in just 2 hours! I think it would take me that long just to do the picking out of the old seams, never mind putting it back together!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thread tracing is the key for me. Once I have my road map, off come the beads and binding and then trimming and attaching…hand work takes a long time as you know.

  3. Bunny says:

    Congratulations on the sale! I am so glad this didn’t drag out for you and you got top dollar. Made it all worth while!

    • mrsmole says:

      You know Bunny, if I had not managed to hold firm on the price and had to settle for less I would have never heard the end of it the rest of my life…it was most important that I proved I could wheel and deal like the big boys. It is a huge relief to get over this hurdle before the next one appears!

  4. MDy says:

    Thank you for sharing your details and pictures. But, WOW, you did it all in two hours – that’s just amazing. Congrats on selling the house. I now what a relief that can be.

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, just over 2 hours…I could not charge for more or she could have/should have bought another dress and saved my fees. It also was a rush job, less than a week during the season and she knew she was pushing it.

  5. Very impressive! As usual. When I was reading what had to be done, I just shuddered! Thank you for the sewing lesson – anything is possible for Mrs Mole! Congratulations on the house sale – your life will get easier now! (We are still cleaning and sorting our parents’ home – someday we will be done!


    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha….is your garage half full with your parents’ stuff? Mine is and we rented a 10 ft by 18 ft storage unit too to contain more of it so we can through it and ditch some things and save some things…I just hope all that stuff does not breed like rabbits while I’m not watching!!!!

      • Ok now you sound like my husband… He moved his parents stuff (some of it) into our basement last year. That is why I refuse to move my parents stuff anywhere except AWAY! You might just want to pull up a chair with a special beverage in your hand and spend some time watching the stuff so that it doesn’t have a chance to reproduce like bunnies! 🍹⛱

  6. jay says:

    It’s a lovely top, I think you must be an angel to take that on though.

    • mrsmole says:

      The risk was the beading and the holes that would be left after removing them…the cotton thread that was used was thick and nasty. Steam coaxed the threads back into shape and it didn’t look to bad in the end. Somedays you get lucky, Jay…you know that!

  7. ”What fun this will be!” Love your writing as usual. Well done all round.

    • mrsmole says:

      One has to remain optimist at all times…or the whole day would turn to mush. Although by 5 pm and cocktail time, the day may have already morphed into a very mushy one.

  8. maryfunt says:

    Don’t you just love “just” shorten the sleeves. Makes it seem like a piece of cake. Chiffon does require loads of hand sewing but the results are worth it. You are very efficient to have gotten this done in two hours. So happy to hear about the house sale and I hope all goes smoothly.

    • mrsmole says:

      One thing I did was to only do one sleeve at a time to time myself and get the sequence right, the second sleeve went faster and easier! Normally I never shorten sleeves, I send them to a friend of mine, but since I had done her wedding dress last year, I thought…”Oh Well, bring it over” …another lesson learned!!!!

  9. Trish says:

    A beautiful job, Mrs Mole!
    I’m also surprised that it didn’t take longer: unpicking those rows of stitching seems to take forever.
    I’ve always avoided shorten sleeves from the top, assuming the armhole would be larger than the shortened top of the sleeve and it would take a while to make the armhole smaller under the arm (especially with encased seams). Was this not a problem?

    • erniek3 says:

      The sleeve sizing would be my concern as well. Spray starch and careful contrasting hand thread tracing in a well-lit workspace for the win! (this is the job for silk thread). Chiffon is a bear if it’s misused or mismade, but if it’s ongrain, it’s a stable woven and can be reasonably trusted. All cheap fabrics are terrifying.
      Congrats on the house. Now the fun part starts! (oh, isn’t it all fun?)

      • mrsmole says:

        I know lots of people swear by silk thread, but I find it so slippery and too thin for making lines and it breaks when tugged on so using it for the gathers was not worth the risk. Good polyester thread in any color of the rainbow was just perfect for the 2 rows of machine stitching and also for the hand stitching to seal the raw edges. The fun part…I wish I could say my parents were thrilled with my news of the sale and the asking price but as usual they just sniffed the air and said they thought the price was right…no pats on the back, no thank yous….it is very disheartening to work so hard for people who cannot express gratitude or pleasure. Thankfully, I have a super husband and nice clients who can say, “great job, Girl”.

    • mrsmole says:

      I measured the armhole and the original sleeve and even with removing 3 inches all around, the sleeve was slightly bigger and needed the slight gathering at the cap to bring it in. Maybe I was lucky but it all went very well and gave me no trouble. The bias binding fit perfectly as well. The original 3 rows of stitching were done with thick cotton thread so removing it was not so hard and I replaced it with 2 rows of polyester to keep it light and drapey.

  10. Job well done – and how sweet of her to offer to loan it to you…lol! How many customers would do that? I’m still avoiding chiffon like the plague…!

    So glad you got a great offer on the house! It’s always so good to be able to close a chapter so you can move on to the next. Good luck with it!

  11. Impressive. You make me believe it can be done.

  12. sewruth says:

    Beautifully finished job and I’ve learnt how to French seam an armhole with bias. Thank you.

  13. Val says:

    As always, Mrs. Mole, you rock! Beautiful work. I echo the other posters: don’t know how you did this in only two hours. Congrats on the house sale! AND: best wishes for your son, his fiance, , and both families to have the happiest of wedding days!

  14. JustGail says:

    The jacket looks great! I think if there’s one thing I’m learning from reading the last year, it’s basting can be your best friend, especially with delicate fabrics and small bits. Not only does it hold everything in place better, you also get a better idea what the results will be. I can see myself trying to use pins to put this back together and redoing it at least once, if not more.

    And a bit HURRAH! on selling the house.

  15. Karen Lyon says:

    Holy crap! It would have been quicker to re-cut and sew the entire sleeves!

    Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2016 15:47:10 +0000 To:

  16. mrsmole says:

    Isn’t that what I did only in reverse?

  17. Great job as usual. Why do we never know when to say no? And I bet you wish you had a dollar for every ‘it’s only….’ job you are asked to do. You (and I) could retire on those dollars!

  18. Tia Dia says:

    Beautiful work, Mrs. Mole! And a huge high five (or sigh of relief) on the sale of the house.

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