How To Shorten Sleeves On A Winter Coat

The store-bought coats might feel really cozy, but they hardly have the sleeve length that you need. It’s a common scenario where the coat that fits you perfectly has sleeves that cover almost your entire arm.

Now, you don’t need to give up on that coat you love simply because the sleeves are a bit long. Why don’t you use your sewing prowess and shorten those sleeves? The process is a lot simpler than it sounds if you follow the right steps.

So, without further ado, let’s take you through the steps you need to take to fix the sleeves on your winter coat.

How To Shorten Sleeves On A Winter Coat?

Shortening the sleeves on a winter coat is pretty easy if you have a bit of sewing skill. Start by measuring the length that you need on those sleeves. Then, turn your sleeve lining out from the wrong side. After this, mark the line and begin cutting. Cut the length of the side seams from the lining. Start stitching the sleeves using matching threads as per the new length. Finally, repeat the same steps on the other sleeve, and snip the excess thread that might be sticking out.

Supplies Required:

Given below is a list of things you will require to shorten the sleeves on your winter coat:

  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing scissors meant for heavyweight fabric
  • Sewing thread that matches the color of the coat
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Needles
  • Pins

Here are the eight steps you need to follow to get the coat sleeves as per your desired length.

Step 1: Measure The Length You Need To Cut

Try the winter coat to note the length that you have to cut. Then, fold your sleeves as per the desired length to mark this new fold using a pin. Check this new length by bending your arm. Also, your coat needs to remain buttoned up. It’s important to measure it twice because once you cut, there is no going back.

Step 2: Turn Your Sleeve Lining Out

Next, look at those side seams after turning your sleeve linings out. Generally, makers leave one opening in one of the side seams of the sleeves to turn the right side of the coat out. Look for the side seam that has the opening.

Well, there are just two sleeves, so finding the one will not be too difficult. After this, rip that seam. But be careful because the lining fabric is generally so thin that it is easy to leave a hole in it while you rip the seams. Using a seam ripper is pretty easy, so that won’t be an issue.

Make sure the opening is big enough for you to turn the entire winter coat right through it. After you remove the stitch, turn that sleeve’s wrong side out through the opening at the side seam. You can choose to turn that other sleeve through the same opening later on. 

Step 3: Mark The Line And Start Cutting

You can clearly see all that is inside. The makers generally stitch together the facing seams and the sleeves. So, rip that too. 

Now, you will get a clear view of how the lining remains stitched to that sleeve. Thus, the best thing you can do is to use a similar finishing method as that of the maker. Of course, it involves loads of ripping. In many cases, you will have to take out the sleeve tab with buttons.

Then, you will get two different sleeves – one each from the lining and the main fabric. 

It is time to start cutting. But how much should you cut? You marked that new fold line at the start. Also, you have a pin there to mark the new fold line. However, you need to keep the exact same seam allowance as you had before. 

Thus, measure the distance and figure out the length that you need to cut from the area below the sleeves. You can use that fold line you left from the earlier fold to measure.

Next, mark your horizontal cutting line. If you want to cut faster, pin those sleeve edges together, mark one straight line as the cutting line. Make the cut using sharp fabric shears. Your winter coat is thick enough for regular scissors to not be able work on it.

Sew a tab at the new length if you have one, and proceed.

Step 4: Cutting The Side Seams’ Length From The Lining

After stitching the side seams of your sleeves, you need to cut off the exact same amount from your lining.

Now, let’s get to the tricky part. How would you connect the sleeves from the lining and from the actual fabric? Start by turning your sleeve the right way. Then, align the side seams of the sleeve, which are two this time and in most cases.

After this, place your hand right through that opening. Make sure to match the sleeve and the lining at a side seam. Next, hold these two together and pull them through the opening present in the lining. Turn your sleeve inside out once more before pinning them together.

After connecting the two seams together at a point, line up those raw edges of your coat and the lining. Keep on pinning all the way round. Following this, make a straight stitch on the side of the main fabric. Though you can get the job done through loads of pins, basting them together is also a good idea because lining fabrics are generally slippery.

Step 5: Start Stitching Using Matching Threads

As you have pinned the lining and the sleeve together, now it is time to start stitching. And you need a matching thread color for that.

Leave the seam allowance at 1 cm or 3/8 inch. Then, select the right needle for the fabric and the sewing machine. Select the right stitch length, i.e., something that is not too small. Keep it around 3 mm for best results.

Proceed slowly, while trying to maintain an equal distance from that edge. This distance can either be 1 cm or 3/8 inch. Now, it is not the easiest thing to sew. So, you will have to stop frequently.

It is important to mention a word of caution here. Many experienced seamstresses are good at sewing over pins. However, the pins need to be so thin that your sewing machine fails to even notice those. If you are not experienced enough in sewing like that, it can be dangerous. In case the needle touches the pin, it will hit you straight and injure you. Thus, it is better to take out the pins while sewing closer to those.

Step 6: Arrange The Lining And The Sleeve After Stitching

You can turn the sleeve on its right side before trying your coat on. Afterward, carefully make the new fold line and press using the right settings of the iron as per the material you are working on. As such, you need to make a permanent new fold.

You will see that this lining sleeve is a little bit longer. Thus, you can fold it over the stitching line. The overlap will impact the way your sleeve hangs and will make it easy for you to move wearing the coat. The lining should not pull the bottom part of the sleeve.

Step 7: Putting The Finishing Touches On The Sleeves

Repeat the same steps for the other sleeve. It helps to work through the same opening. Also, you need to ensure that both these sleeves are cut in the same way and have the same length.

Machine stitch to close the side-seam opening of the lining. Hand stitching will do the job as well if that is easier for you. Finally, you need to secure those sleeve seams right at the bottom.

Tips To Shorten Winter Coat Sleeves

A couple of quick sewing tips will make the job easier than ever for you. It helps if you can start sewing without making a knot. To do this, thread the needle using double threads. Begin sewing and put the needle in that loop.

At the other end of your thread, you will find the loop. The stitching will remain secure but there won’t be any knots present there at all. If you want, you can practice it on a spare piece of fabric to be sure.

You need to sew a couple of reinforcing stitches by hand. So, insert the needle right in the seams to make sure that the stitches aren’t visible. Don’t forget to use the right thread color that matches the coat’s color as closely as possible.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, you have a clear understanding now about how to shorten the sleeves on your winter coat. Now, you will no longer need to deal with uncomfortable sleeves on a comfy coat.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *