How to Add Your Own Leather Sleeves

how to add your own leather sleeves

I love all the leather details on tees right now and have wanted to experiment with embellishing a tee for a while. My good friend Susan of Freshly Picked sent me a package of some leather scraps a couple years ago and I’ve been waiting for the perfect project to use this gold leather with. It’s so buttery and soft (just like the precious baby moccs she sells).

how to add your own leather sleeves

We thought about replacing various parts of the tee with this amazing leather: the shoulder (stressed us out thinking about removing so many important seams), the whole sleeve (too stiff), and the pocket (kinda overdone). We settled on replacing just a strip of the sleeve, leaving the natural edge of the leather at the bottom, with a nod to the tuxedo trend. Love how it turned out. It’s been so warm here the last few days. My assistant Sara and I were both commenting about how little short sleeved tees we have in our foggy San Francisco closets, here’s one I’ll want to wear on all sunny days from now on!

Keep reading to see how we made it… (and our if we would do it again tips so you won’t want to throw your sewing machine out the window)

Photography by Liz Stanley. Assisted and modeling by Sara Albers


how to add your own leather sleeves


White tee (tip: avoid any stretchy fabric like slub knit. Our mistake and we paid for it!)
Leather scraps (real or fake), you can buy some on etsy
Nylon coated thread
Leather sewing machine needle
Sewing machine
Seam ripper

Step 1: Measure an areas of the sleeve for leather and add 1/4 inch seam allowance to all sides.

Step 2: Cut a pattern using these measurements from paper. Our leather needed to be 4.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches long, FYI.


Step 3: Cut out 2 pieces of leather using this pattern.

Step 4: Using a seam ripper, remove seam at top of sleeve. If seam is serged, leave serged seam in and cut beside it. Using the paper pattern, cut the area out but 1/4 inch smaller than the paper pattern you made for the leather (might be helpful to make another pattern 1/4 inch smaller).


Step 5: Inside out the shirt and pin the right sides of shirt and leather together. When pinning, only pin along the line you’ll sew as the pins can leave permanent holes in the leather.

Step 6: Using a leather needle and nylon coated thread, sew the three sides using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Tip: we used tape to hold the bottom/exposed edge of the leather to the tshirt to ensure that side aligns perfectly
how to add your own leather sleeves

Tip: For care, spot clean with a bleach stick (benefits of using a white tee!) or dry clean.


Cute idea! I think I’d go with a more matte leather, like how cute would pale pink look?

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