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How to Crop a Sweatshirt & Shorten the Sleeves

Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition
DIY Prada Sweater Dupe

Like most of you, I’ve been spending a looooot of time chilling in sweats.

They’re comfy. They’re warm. And if no one is around to see me in my slovenliness, does my slovenliness even exist?

I think not.

But even I couldn’t lounge comfortably in this too-long sweatshirt.

refashionista how to crop a sweatshirt before
Am I short? Or is this sweatshirt just super long?

I’ve found that a lot of sweatshirts of the low-end variety tend to run incredibly long, and I just don’t get it. Who are these for? I’m 5’4″, which is an average height for women. I do. not. understand.

Everything else about my sweatshirt fit just fine, but I felt ridiculous in it.

refashionista how to crop a sweatshirt before 2
I mean, making dorky poses didn’t help.

I could not settle for this, friends, and nor should you!

Here’s how to shorten a sweatshirt, (including the sleeves)!

If you have a sweatshirt that you think would look better cropped/shortened, you’ll be happy to know this is a pretty simple process.

While I’m shortening a sweatshirt that’s fairly fitted to right above my hips, this would also work really well for a more oversized sweatshirt.

You could also crop it higher if you want to set your midriff freeeeee! You do you.

You might also like this tutorial wherein I show you how to shorten a sweater.

To get started, grab a couple of safety pins.

refashionista holding two safety pins
Yeeessssss…you two will do nicely!

Mark the bottom of your sweatshirt where you want to cut it.

marking bottom of sweatshirt with safety pin
Right here!

Make sure to allow for the reattachment of that bottom band. In other words, pin a couple of inches higher than you actually want it to end.

Next, mark a sleeve the same way (allowing for the sleeve cuff to be added on later).

marking sweatshirt sleeve with safety pin
You only need to mark one sleeve!

Now, cut a straight line where you pinned your sweatshirt.

cutting off bottom of sweatshirt
Just like this.

Fold the bottom over as you go to keep it even (without the need for more measuring/marking).

folding bottom of sweatshirt over while cutting
Works like a charm!

Then, cut off the bottom band.

cutting off bottom band of sweatshirt
Three easy pieces.

I left a little bit of the sweatshirt fabric on the band as I wasn’t totally sure my sewing machine would be able to sew through the thickness of the band’s seam and the top part. I was basically leaving myself with a Plan B.

Time cut into those sleeves!

Make a straight cut across the sleeve where you marked it with the safety pin.

cutting off sleeve of sweatshirt
Snnnip!

Then, lay the cut-off part over the other sleeve, and cut it to the same length.

cutting off second sleeve
This is why you didn’t need to pin both sleeves!

Cut off each of the sleeve bands.

cutting of sweatshirt sleeve band
Just like the bottom of the sweatshirt!

Now we’re gonna re-attach everything!

Place the bottom band around the bottom of the sweatshirt, with right sides facing each other.

bottom band wrapped around bottom of sweatshirt
See what I mean?

Now, pin the bottom band to the bottom of the sweatshirt.

Make sure to pull the elastic taut as you pin!

When you’re done, it should look like this.

pinning bottom band to sweatshirt
It’s all coming together!

Repeat this step for each sleeve.

pinning band to sweatshirt sleeve
Easy so far, right?

Now for the fun part!

Sew the bottom band down, using the top row of stitching on the elastic as a guide.

Make sure to pull the elastic towards you a little as you sew so the fabric doesn’t bunch up!

sewing bottom band onto cropped sweatshirt
See (look where I’m pointing)?

Do the same for each sleeve.

sewing band onto sleeve
This is the finicky part!

As noted above, this part is a little tricky. Just sew slowly & carefully, and you’ll be fine!

Trim off any excess fabric.

Since I was able to sew through the bottom band seam & the sweatshirt just fine, I didn’t end up needing the Plan B seam allowance I left myself.

trimming off excess fabric
Just a little trim!

Press all of your new seams.

To make sure everything lays down properly, you’ll want to iron your new seams flat.

ironing seams
The almost-final step!

That’s it! For your final step, revel in the comfort of your custom-fitted sweatshirt!

How to crop a sweatshirt after
Much improved, I say!

I really like how, with just a few simple tweaks, I was able to take something I would never wear and turn it into a cozy stay-at-home staple.

how to crop a sweatshirt after 2
Styled here with the same pair of Uggs I’ve been wearing almost daily around the house for months.
refashionista looking at shortened sleeve
Yay! They no longer cover my hands!

All-in-all I’m pleased with how this turned out.

Is this one of my more exciting refashions? Oh heck no. But is it a really practical one that I know I’ll get lots of wear out of? Heck yeah!

If you have a sweatshirt languishing in a drawer somewhere that could use the same treatment, I hope you’ll give this a try!

Cheers!

refashionista How to Crop a sweatshirt before and after
Yield: 1 Cropped Sweatshirt

How to Crop a Sweatshirt & Shorten the Sleeves

How to Crop a Sweatshirt Pin 8

Learn how to shorten a sweatshirt, including the sleeves! If you have a sweatshirt that's too long, this tutorial is for you.

Active Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $1

Materials

  • 1 too-long sweatshirt

Tools

  • 2 safety pins
  • fabric scissors
  • stick pins
  • sewing machine
  • matching thread

Instructions

  1. Mark the bottom of your sweatshirt where you want to cut it with a safety pin. Make sure to allow 2" additional length for when you reattach the bottom band.
  2. Mark a sleeve the same way (allowing for the sleeve cuff to be added on later).
  3. Cut a straight line where you pinned your sweatshirt.
  4. Cut off the bottom band.
  5. Make a straight cut across the sleeve where you marked it with the safety pin.
  6. Lay the cut-off part over the other sleeve, and cut it to the same length.
  7. Cut off each of the sleeve bands.
  8. Place the bottom band around the bottom of the sweatshirt, with right sides facing each other.
  9. Pin the bottom band to the bottom of the sweatshirt.
  10. Pin the sleeve cuffs the sleeves (using the same technique as you used for the bottom band).
  11. Sew the bottom band down, using the top row of stitching on the elastic as a guide.
  12. Sew the sleeve cuffs down, repeating the same technique as Step 11.
  13. Trim off any excess fabric
  14. Press your new seams.
Crumple Tie Dye Technique: Sweatshirt Edition
DIY Prada Sweater Dupe

42 thoughts on “How to Crop a Sweatshirt & Shorten the Sleeves”

  1. Thank you! I am 5’3″ and wear somewhere between L & XL sweatshirt. Living in Northern Wisconsin most of the year I wear a shirt under the sweatshirt. I ordered this great Hawaiian shirt. It got here and I could wear it as a dress. Looking at it I thought “OK there must be a way to shorten this thing”. (And if there is I have more that are too long. Found your site and instructions. Thank you!!!!! I am on my way to having shirts that are the correct length for my body, not someone else’s idea of what should fit.

    Reply
  2. I have been reading your blog and loving it! I found it originally on Pinterest. I notice you do most of your refashions with things that are too big. I would love to see some ideas on to refashion things that are too small. I’m a size 16 and few things are too big on me, unfortunately!

    Reply
  3. Can I just say I absolutely love your blog. I’ve been here for years now and you’re the ONLY blog I read! I also love the ”recipe” you write at the end to make the refashion. I will start printing them out as a ”sewing recipe book by Refashionista”. Maybe you could write a book? 😉 Wishing you all the best in 2021. Greetings from UK!

    Reply
  4. If you want to elongate, you can follow similar steps. Cut just under the bust and add a contrast colour and re-sew.
    It’s great to Jillian looking better!

    Reply
  5. Everyone knows how creative you are. It must be difficult to do something basic, but it is so helpful to so many people. How many people are saying, “What a great idea! I can do that!” It is nice for beginners, they don’t have to worry about fraying. BTW I love your eyebrows! They look so great with your wig. You really have the face to rock short hair.

    Reply
  6. I laughed when you mentioned about butt getting bigger so arms must be longer. I used to have problems buying one-piece bathing suits. I have a longer torso so would have to get a bigger size. Although I am a size 4 on the bottom I wear a size 12 bathing suit. So they figured if you wear a size 12 then you would want the little skirt part and look matronly. Luckily that has changed.

    Reply
  7. You look terrific. You are such inspiration to all. I have always wonder the best way to go about fixing a sweatshirt that was too long. Being only 5′ 2″ most everything needs some sort of alteration. You have been a tremendous help. Thank you!!

    Reply
  8. First of all I am so happy to read you and to see you in great shape !!! Thank you, thank you for this beautiful tutorial that will serve me well because I start in sewing. Very soon to have your positive news !

    Reply
  9. I have a couple of sweatshirts that need alteration. Thanks for the tutorial. Now I just need to get off my lazy behind and get it done. You look great and I hope you are feeling so much better. Your posts make my day!

    Reply
  10. Haha this is awesome but please…. is there an easy trick like this for EXTENDING shirts???? my awkward wrists are always poking out!

    Reply
  11. Brilliant! I think that tutorial provided the skills and confidence to do this one. Love it! I’m also wanting to redo the scratchy neck binding on t-shirts, maybe make them bigger in the process.
    A post from you always makes my day and inspires. Thank you, beautiful girl!

    Reply
  12. Thanks! This is great because most all of my sweatshirts are too long. And by the way, you are looking great. Hope you are feeling good too!

    Reply
  13. I did this several years ago. I was given a promotional jacket by a company I did freelance work for. I picked the XL size and discovered that it was made by yet another company that says that when your butt gets bigger, your arms get longer. I had my son try it on (he is 6′ 7″ or two meters tall) and the sleeves were too long for him too! I didn’t need to shorten the jacket, just the arms.

    Reply
  14. Love this — and it looks like I can actually manage this one! (Working on those sewing chops.) Do you know of a way (an easy one, but of course) to refashion the neckline so it’s a bit more open? I usually just cut the neck ribbing out of tee shirts, but that looks so scraggly and unfinished.

    Reply
  15. Great job! You look cute as a button in it, too. I can’t wear things that short as I need to hide my big belly, but I do think that length looks adorable on you flat-bellied beauties.

    So wonderful to see a post from you. I hope you are feeling better every day and enjoying your life to the fullest.

    Best wishes!

    Reply
  16. So good to see you, Jillian. You are rocking the hair, too! You just showed me a way easier way to re do the sleeves…thanks. Keep well.

    Reply
  17. I’m 5’1 and I want a sweatshirt to cover my booty, not show my tummy! But, this is a great tutorial and I often need to shorten my sleeves, and this is an easy way to do it!

    Reply
  18. I do enjoy your emails and love your attitude! I wish I was as small and adorable as you but my problems are in the other direction – do you have any tips for enlarging to fit my large belly or waist/hip adjustments?

    Reply
  19. Thank you! Love your goofy poses, love your tutorials, whether simple or complex. Just appreciate you sharing your creativity and make-it-happen attitude with all of us! And sharing the hard bits, too—I’m so glad that your chemo is over. Yay! Hope your hair will start coming back soon. Will be fun to see if it’s changed, no? Hugs from Oakland, CA!

    Reply

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