Free Sewing Tutorial – Perfectly Polished Armwarmers

Posted on 10 Comments

This free tutorial is part of The Great Knit Fabric Experiment sponsored by Harmony Art Fabrics and Stitch Simple, where you can buy your fabric prewashed and ready to sew. More great free tutorials for sewing with knits at the link or click the logo!

Don’t we all love armwarmers? Now, an armwarmer is basically a tube, and you could cut a rectangle of fabric, sew up one edge, stab a hole for the thumb, and call it day. Because knit doesn’t ravel, that’s actually a pretty acceptable way to create some quick armwarmers. However … I’m calling these Perfectly Polished Armwarmers, with finished hems and a beautifully bound thumbhole, I think you’ll find the difference is worth your time, and you’ll learn to create a self-binding for knit fabrics.

You’ll need:

About 1/2 yard knit fabric with at least 25% stretch and some standard sewing supplies.  I’m using the beautiful Solstice organic cotton interlock from Harmony Art Fabrics, provided prewashed and ready to sew by Stitch Simple.
Standard spool of thread or other circle roughly 1-3/8″ in diameter
Large piece of paper for making your pattern – wrapping paper, tissue paper, etc.
Standard sewing tools and supplies

First, create your pattern. Measure around your palm at the widest part, not including your thumb, that = Palm measurement. Now measure the around your arm where you’d like them to end, that = Arm measurement. Next, measure from that point on your arm down to your knuckles, or wherever on your hand you want them to reach and ADD 1″. That = Length. The seam allowance will take care of making the width just a bit smaller than the actual width of your arm so they’ll be just snug enough. My fabric has about 25% stretch. If you are working with an especially stretchy fabric, you may need to subtract 1/2″ from your palm and arm measurements.

So as an example, my Palm = 7.5″, my Arm = 9″, and my Length = (13.5 +1) = 14.5″.

Draw a vertical line = to your Length line on a large piece of paper, like wrapping paper or tissue paper. I’m using the pretty unbleached tissue paper that came with my Stitch Simple order! Now center a horizontal line the length of your Palm measurement across the top. To do this, divide by 2 and make that the point that intersects the Length line. In my example, 7.5/2 = 3.75. Do the same for your Arm measurement at the bottom, which for me is 9″/2 = 4.5. Connect the side lines. Above is a not-to-scale example.

Cut around your pattern piece, and fold it in half along the length line. Now draw a cutout for the thumb hole. For an average hand, the top of this cutout should be 2.5″ from the Palm line. Centering a standard spool of thread (which measures about 1-3/8″ across) on the edge makes a perfect size. You can even look through the hole of the spool to be sure it’s perfectly centered on the edge. If you can’t find a circle the right size, use a ruler and sketch a half circle roughly 2/3″ wide and deep.

Now cut 2 of these shapes from your chosen knit fabric, being sure you are cutting so the stretch goes across the width of the pattern. Also cut 2 strips from the same or a coordinating fabric 5″ wide (stretch direction) by 1″ long. These are your binding strips.

Hem the top and bottom of the armwarmers by pressing under 1/2″ and sewing with a narrow zigzag that goes just off the raw edges of the fabric.

Fold the armwarmer right sides together and sew a 1/4 seam with a zigzag or stretch stitch, or serger from the arm edge up to the thumbhole and stop.

Turn the armwarmer right side out.

You should be able to open up the thumbhole so that it’s fairly straight and accessible for sewing. Pin a binding strip, right sides together, along the entire length (or “around”) the thumbhole. Sew using a longer-length straight stitch, about 1/4″ from the edge of the hole.

Press the binding first toward the hole, then wrap it all the way around the raw edges to the inside of the armwarmer and press again, and pin in place.

“Stitch in the ditch” from the right side of the fabric, using a longer length straight stitch. I didn’t mark the stitching line in this photo because I want to to be clear that the ‘ditch’ where the binding meets the main part of the armwarmer is the sewing line. Trim any excess binding from inside the thumbhole to 1/8″, and any excess over the side seam.

Turn the armwarmer inside out once more to finish the side seam with a zigzag or serger, again using a 1/4 seam.

Right it once more, and repeat for the other side – now go enjoy your warm, crafty arms!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this free tutorial – please link to it, Facebook it, Tweet it! There are easy-share buttons up at the top. I offer PDF sewing patterns for clothing, accessories, home goods and toys in my etsy shop, You might enjoy my Convertible Fingerless Gloves/Mittens PDF sewing pattern – come browse my shop any time! 

10 thoughts on “Free Sewing Tutorial – Perfectly Polished Armwarmers

  1. I am absolutely giving these a try. My hands get so cold when I'm working at home on the computer.
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Thanks so much for this free tutorial. My 87 year old mums hands are always cold. These will be perfect for her.

  3. Thank you for this tutorial! I have osteo arthritis in my thumbs and frequently have to wear a hand brace which needs a "sock" underneath it. These will be PERFECT!!

  4. My friend has ages spots on her hands and HIDES them. I am making her a flesh color pair of these! THANKS so much. I will let you know how she likes them.

  5. Finally got this pattern tht I need it. I will love it. I will make 1 it. Thank you for send pattern.roslyn

  6. Just completed this project.

    I had never worked with binding strips and as such, I procrastinated about an hour before getting around to those.

    My warmers turned out better than my expectations for a first go!

    I used a 92%/8% Cotton/Spandex shirt I picked up at the local Good Will just for this project earlier today ($3.99).

    One thing, I have long thin fingers and arms, and had to cut binding strips at 7 inches.

    Thank you for posting this tutorial. My arms will be much toastier for tomorrow's morning run!

  7. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I need arm warmers for a costume, so now I know how to make my own ^_^ I also love Ashe's idea of using a t-shirt for material! I'll be doing that to recycle ^_^

  8. This rocked! I made some for a gift, then loved them so much, I had to make a pair for myself. Thanks!!

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  10. Hi. Thank you for the tutorial! I already made armwarmers and fingerless gloves of fake fur (no need for binding 🙂

    Thanks again

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