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Altering Baby Clothes: Long Sleeves to Short {Plus Ruffles}

I’m still laughing at all your comments about the April Fool’s joke (found here).
That toilet still makes me smirk when I think about it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I love the sale racks at the store. Especially for kids clothes.
I found the two items below at The Baby Gap for $1.97 each.  And then all sale items were 25% off, so I got them for $1.50 each.  Stores always put out of season stuff on sale, to make room for the new stuff.
But don’t let the out of season sales deter you from buying them for the upcoming season.
I always try to keep my eye out for excellent deals, even if they are fall/winter clothes when we’re approaching spring/summer…..or vice versa.  I always look to see if I can do a few adjustments to the item.  Because a quick alteration will allow you to use the clothes when you need them.
(Or buy those sales for the year ahead.  Either way, the consumer wins.)
I bought these a year ago in a size 3-6 months so I could use them this year for the spring and early summer.  I knew I could cut off the sleeves and use them for the warmer weather.
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I chopped off the sleeves and re-cuffed them and then used the sleeve scraps to make ruffles on the diaper cover.  Mmmmm……ruffles always add charm.
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No longer a fall/winter-ish dress.
It’s all ready for the spring and summer months.  I’ll show you, Baby Gap!!!
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And with this one, I removed the sleeves……..and added some different scrap fabric I had, to make the ruffle bum.
Nice and easy and perfect for warmer weather.
How are the sale racks in your area?
Any good deals going on right now?
Use them to your advantage.
Or how about those hand-me-downs that need some altering?  Grab them and make them work for you.
Want to see how I made the changes that I did?

Again, these items started out as long sleeves.
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For cheap.
The Polka Dot Dress:
I cut the sleeves off about 1/4 inch longer than I wanted them, for a seam allowance.
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Then I cut the rest of the sleeve piece open to use for the sleeve cuffs and the ruffles on the bum.  Depending on how much fabric you have from the sleeve, will determine how wide and full your ruffles will be.  I wanted 3 ruffles on the bum and enough for a cuff on the sleeve.  So I cut 4 strips from each sleeve (each were about 1 inch wide)… I had 8 strips total.
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And since I needed the strips to be longer (about twice the length of the area you want to place ruffle is a good guide), I attached 2 strips together to make a longer one…….and ended up with 3 long strips.
(Set the other 2 shorter strips aside for the sleeve cuffs.)
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Then I serged the edges and made a basting/gathering stitch down the center of each long strip.
(Need help with gathering?  Click here.)
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**Serging the edges is not necessary if you don’t have a serger.  You can zig-zag the edges or leave them raw.  They won’t fray if you’re using a knit.  If you’re using a woven cotton from your fabric stash, cut on the bias so it won’t fray………or zig-zag the edges. (Need help with cutting on the bias?  Click here.)
Then gather in the strips and pin them to the back of the diaper cover…..
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……and then sew the strips down, right on top of the basting stitch.
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For the sleeves, I realized that if I just hemmed the sleeve, they would be too wide at the bottom.  The original sleeve was wide and then was gathered at the bottom by the wrist…….so the sleeve would be too wide after cutting it and only hemming it.  (If your sleeve is straight and more narrow, skip the gathering instructions below and just hem the sleeve.)
I made a basting stitch about a 1/4 inch away from the bottom edge of the sleeve and about 2.5 inches long along the sleeve exactly opposite the inner side seam of the shirt.  I ruffled this section in to the size I wanted the sleeve to be at the opening.  (If you’re unsure, compare it to the sleeve opening of another short sleeve shirt that you have.)
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For the cuff, I folded one of the extra strips in half lengthwise and then ironed it flat.
Then I measured the opening of the sleeve where the cuff would be placed and trimmed down this strip to the right length (including a seam allowance).  Then I sewed the two ends together to make a circle.
Then I slid the circle cuff over the outside of the bottom of the sleeve, with right sides together.  Also, be sure to line up the raw edges of the cuff with the raw edge of the sleeve.  Pin the cuff in place with the seam of the cuff matching up with the seam of the sleeve.
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See the gathered fabric of the sleeve under there??
Then stitch the cuff in place, using a zig-zag stitch, to allow for some stretch.  I ended up zig-zagging twice, just fr security.
Then, slide your iron in there and iron the edges towards the inside of the shirt.
Steam a bit from the outside too.
See?  All nice and finished with a smaller sleeve opening.
Do the same thing to the other sleeve.
And the dress and bloomers are now done.  And cute and spring-y as ever.
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The white onesie:
This shirt had some elastic smocking on the sleeve already.  So I just cut off the sleeve right below the smocking and didn’t worry about hemming since knit doesn’t fray much at all.
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For the bum, I ruffled up some woven cotton strips, the same way I did above, and attached it right to the bum of the onesie.
Such a simple alteration to make a onesie an outfit.
(You can do this to your onesies you already have that don’t need the sleeve alteration.)
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And that’s it.

Turning the warmer clothes into cooler clothes can sure save you some money if you think about the potential of the clothes at the store…….or in your closet.

Now go and see what you can find.
And alter it.

Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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