Simple Sporty Sleeve Stripes

A couple of simple sleeve stripes can really pull a colorblocked tee together, or elevate any handmade tee or sweatshirt to something special. And they’re super easy to sew. Here’s a tutorial!

I’m using our Zee’s Tee pattern for kids, sized up one size to make a sweatshirt for my son. I didn’t have quite enough of this gorgeous olive sweatshirting to make the body and sleeves, so I chose gray rib knit for the sleeves. I wanted to be sure the finished tee didn’t give away the fact I ran out of the body fabric so planned a gray neckband. Then, hmm, how else to incorporate the two colors? Originally I planned to use the pattern’s included chest pocket in gray. Then a womens’ sweatshirt ad that Amazon keeps pushing on me popped into my head (not affiliate link, just in case you want to check it out). Thanks for the inspo, Amazon! But I’m still not buying that shirt.

I love the result. Here’s how easy they were. I measured the sleeve across at the short sleeve cutting line. It was about 12″ and I added an inch for wiggle room. I decided ⅝” wide was the width of the stripe I wanted and cut a stripe ⅝” + ⅝” to make the stripe and added ¼” + ¼” for seam allowances for a total of 1-3/4″ wide. I sewed this into a tube using a ¼” seam allowance, turned right side out and pressed so the seam was in the center of one side of the tube.

Then I decided my sweatshirting was waaay too bulky for all that and threw it away, LOL. But if you’re using a lighter weight knit like cotton lycra or other jersey and want finished edges for your stripes, by all means follow the instructions in that last paragraph to cut and sew 4 stripes for your tee.

For my bulky knit and casual look, I decided that raw edges would be fine. I cut four stripes each 14″ x 3/4″ wide. Why 3/4″ when I had already said I liked my stripes ⅝” wide? To account for post-wash curling of the edges beyond the stitching line, leaving the area between the stitching lines as the visible stripe.

There’s nothing fancy about sewing the stripes on, the wrong side of the stripe goes against the right side of the sleeve. A little Wash Away Wonder Tape held it in place beautifully. Then I placed the lower stripe ⅝” beneath the first.

Then I folded the sleeve in half to make sure my stripe edges would meet perfectly when the sleeve seam is sewn and trimmed that excess.

A simple edgestitch holds the stripes into place. I used a longer straight stitch because the sleeve has plenty of ease so stretching shouldn’t be an issue. A zigzag, decorative stitch or coverstitch would also be gorgeous.

Zee’s Tee pattern is a boxy cut, slightly oversized T-shirt pattern with chest pocket, yoke, and colorblock views, with both long and short sleeves. The pattern includes sizes 12 months to 11/12 years.

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