Adding Sleeves to a Sleeveless Bodice

Blogger: Chelsey Petrishen


Adding Sleeves to a Sleeveless Bodice

Have you ever wanted to add sleeves to a sleeveless pattern, or take sleeves from one pattern and put them on another? In just a few simple steps you can add or interchange sleeves to a bodice and make your own unique style. 

Lately, I’ve been dreaming of spring days and warmer weather, but it will still be a while before we can wear all of those cute, sleeveless, summer dresses.

I have had my eye on Leiden for some time; it is such a simple and sweet pattern. I love the curved bodice and natural high low hem. It does include an option for flutters, but I knew I had to add a sleeve to keep my daughter warm.

I made the ruffle hem skirt so I wanted to choose a sleeve that would complement that well. After looking through the patterns with sleeves I decided on the Lenox elbow length sleeve with the optional sleeve ruffle to coordinate with the ruffle hem on the Leiden skirt. 

I wanted a fabric that would be a nice transition into spring, something cheerful to brighten up the winter days.  I came across Country Cottage by Michael Miller Fabrics, in one of our favorite colors. 


First let’s discuss the steps for adding a sleeve to a sleeveless bodice and how to tell which sleeveless bodices can accommodate adding a sleeve.

Typically, when adding a sleeve to a sleeveless bodice, you follow the construction of the bodice pattern up until the point where the main and lining arm curves are sewn right sides together. Stop here.

When adding a sleeve, the main and lining bodices are only sewn around the neckline and then turned right side out.

Give the neckline a good press. Finish/sew together the side edges of the bodice.

Sew the front and back main bodice sides right sides together. Press the seams open. Repeat this step for the bodice lining. This will result in a completely finished bodice except around the arm openings.

At this point, follow the tutorial for constructing and attaching the sleeve of the new pattern. It’s that simple!!! 


When looking at sleeveless patterns to see which one can accommodate the addition of a sleeve, it is important to look at the arm curve on the finished garment. The curve should come straight up from the underarm and sit a little wider on the shoulder. If the outer shoulder of the bodice sits more inward on the child’s shoulder, the pattern will not work to accommodate a sleeve.

It’s a great idea to go to the website to look at the final garments on the listings if you ever question if a sleeveless bodice will work. Some of the LLK bodices, I have found, that will work without adjustments are Albany, Ashland, Birmingham, Granada, Holland, Leiden, Lucerne, Manhattan, Milan, Monet, Montrose, and Tekapo


If a pattern has included sleeves, you can typically swap it with another pattern that includes sleeves to mix and match. Simply construct the bodice of the pattern up until the point of the sleeve.

At that point, switch over to the new pattern with the newly desired sleeve to construct and add the different sleeve. Some LLK patterns that have unique sleeves include Glasgow, Nara, Lenox, Lund, Mavora, Melbourne, Nikko, and Westport.

We can’t wait to see all of the beautiful combinations you come up with! 

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