Adding Sleeves to a RTW Dress


My sister is getting married next month in May, and she found THIS dress at, but for her modest requirements asked if I could add sleeves to it for 10 of her bridesmaids, myself included. This is the dress as pictured on the website:

I said yes! I really love the look of this dress, and adding sleeves is really pretty easy to do. If you look closely, the sleeves are not exactly where they should be because this dress wasn’t meant to have them. They don’t lay flat in some places when being worn, but it still works. I think it partly bugs me because I know it isn’t right, maybe other people won’t even notice it? (Just want you to be aware).

This is the sleeve pattern I used for sizes Xsmall + Small. You can download and print it for personal use.

Here’s a quick little tutorial of how I inserted the sleeves if you need a little review:

1// First off, you will need 2 dresses (**see below), one for cutting out the sleeves so your fabric matches the dress. I bought a size XL and was able to get about 12-14 sleeves out of it.

2// Cut out sleeves, *to skip having to hem the sleeve, use the bottom hem of the dress for the bottom of your sleeve!

3//Prep sleeves. Hem if you didn’t you your dress hemline, add two rows of ease stitching around the top of the sleeve, at 1/4″ and 1/2″. (refer to marking on my pattern).

4// Sew the under arm seam of your sleeves.

5// Insert the sleeve, making sure to line up the underarm seams, and center tops of arm hole and sleeve. Gently pull ease stitching, and evenly spread any gathers until the sleeve fits just right, pin.

6// When sewing in the sleeve, make sure to sew directly on top of the outmost stitching on the bias binding already sewn to the dress. This is a great guide, and makes your sleeves look like they were an original part of the dress. Make sure everything looks good, fix anything that might have gotten caught in the seam, remove easing stitches, and you’re all done!

*remains of the dress I used for sleeves:
This tutorial would work well for tops, and other RTW dresses too. Just make sure your sleeve pattern is a close fit to the arm hole.

**If anyone is interested, I have about 2-3 sets of sleeves I am willing to mail out for free (left over from my bridesmaids dresses) if you don’t want to buy a whole other dress just to cut out two sleeves. Email me at: if you’re interested! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Adding Sleeves to a RTW Dress

  1. This is the first time I have heard of a wedding party having such inexpensive dresses. What a great idea. I hope this becomes a trend, Nice job on the sleeves.


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