Fashion Upgrades- Boho Sleeves

Modeling boho sleeves

Fashion Upgrades- Boho Sleeves

there is no excuse for lame sleeves, lucky readers,

not while you have me in your life. Today’s post was inspired by those lovely thermal sweaters Free People makes around Winter time. But it’s not thermal weather, and honestly it’s too easy not to just do yourself. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about right now, we’ll just get to the program.

I used a simple shirt from the gap, a couple of coordinating cotton fat quarters, and a pretty floral lace. If that doesn’t just scream millennial fashion, than you are probably too avant-garde for this blog and should go start your own and sleeve the rest of us in peace.

This project will require some prep work, and I have only given you thorough instructions for the purpose of not wasting your time. But it’s totally worth it. Check out this great Before/After:

two alt views of sleeves before and after

I can’t promise that sewing on boho sleeves will make your coffee turn into a succulent, though…in fact I can promise it won’t. sorry for the false advertising


lindsey mae

Fashion Upgrades – Boho Sleeves


long sleeve shirt-
I used this style from the GAP in Green Stripe
If you want a cheaper option, this basic crew is available on Amazon

1.5 to 2 yds crochet cotton lace trim

Here are some options:
Simple White lace flowers
Black roses, if you want a darker trim

2 cotton fat quarters in different coordinating colors- I used the fabric quarter brand available at Joann’s

This is the green I used

I’ve been unable to find the patterned color for you. Of course, you can use whatever you have lying around, the strips just need to be long enough.

thread (matching)
fabric (or sharp) scissors
ruler or straight edge
pins (optional)


Step 0-

When working with cotton fabric- always always ALWAYS do this first: Put it in your washer on a regular cycle, dry on low heat, and iron flat.

If you don’t do this, you’re just asking for the fabric to warp when you wash your project for the first time. There’s nothing fun about wasting time like that.

Use the straight edge to trim each fat quarter into a perfect square. I used a pen to draw straight lines before trimming, just to make things a little easier.

Step 1-

Measure the circumference of the sleeve opening- press flat, measure across, then multiply the measurement by 2. Here is what you will need to cut based on this information:

lace pieces: circumference + 1″
middle cotton piece: (circumference + 2″ ) long by 2″ wide
end cotton piece: (circumference + 5″) long by 3″ wide

so for example: My sleeve opening measured 7″ in circumference, so here were the measurements of my fabric:

lace: 8″
solid green (middle) cotton piece: 9″ by 2″
patterned (end) cotton piece: 12″ by 3″

Boho Sleeve components
Left to right: End strips, Middle Strips, Cotton trim

then fray check the edges of each piece. Failing to secure the ends with fray check will undue all of your diligent hand sewing.

Step 2-

Flip the sleeve of your shirt inside out. Take a middle cotton piece, and place it so the wrong sides are together (the right side is out facing you), pin if necessary. Try to align the edges of your cotton with any seams in the shirt.

Use a running stitch to sew an 1/8″ seam around. Now assuming you have purchased a shirt like I have, that has some stretch, you are going to have to sew some give into the fabric. This is where my naivetΓ© shows through- I rather unscientifically bunch the cotton as I go along.

Basically, you just want to have enough give so that the seam doesn’t pop when your stretchy shirt stretches while the not-stretchy-at-all cotton does not. So here’s the goal: even though this strip is 2 inches longer than the circumference, the ends should meet perfectly- not overhang. If you do this, you shouldn’t have any problems.

That said….

There is a better way to do this: it’s called a catch stitch, and if you have success with it, more power to you. I’ve posted the link to a tutorial on how to do this by the lovely Ashley at Apartment Therapy.

Sew up the two ends of the cotton fabric to complete this first layer.

Green middle layer sewn to shirt sleeve

I very intentionally did this to that the seam was visible on the outside, because I like the raw, unfinished look it gives. If you are a perfectionist and hate this idea, you can always do this with the right sides of the fabric facing.

Step 3-

Turn the shirt back right side out. secure the cotton trim all the way around so that it evenly splits the shirt and the first cotton layer.

Trim added, covers the seam between the first cotton layer and the original shirt

Step 4-

Turn the shirt back inside out. Align the edge of an outer cotton piece with the previous seam. Again, make sure the wrong sides are facing each other. This time, whip stitch around the perimeter.

Do not allow any give this time- because the two cotton pieces have the same amount of stretch you shouldn’t have to worry about the seam breaking. There will be overlap.

Once you have whip stitched all the way around, switch back to a running stitch, secure the edge of the end piece across at an angle, by running stitch about 1/8th inch from the edge.

Running stitch around the entire edge of the perimeter, folding down the top of the fabric as you go- again, you want only a 1/8th inch seam.

Notice how the final layer is finished with the running stitch. Refer to picture for how to overlap the sleeve

Repeat these boho sleeves instructions with the other side. Remember to mirror the outer cotton layer from the other side.

Step 5-

Go be your beautiful, boho sleeves self

Completed boho sleeves close up

boho sleeves, casually

Modeling boho sleeves

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