These past two weeks I've been leading a sew along in the Blank Slate Patterns Facebook group (head over there if you aren't already part of the group!). We've been making Zippy and Zinnia jackets and today I'd like to share a pattern hack to add thumbholes to the sleeve cuffs. While my post is specifically axed towards these two patterns, the principle is applicable to any shirt or jacket pattern with cuff sleeves.
Adding thumbholes to your cuffs is really a very easy hack, you mostly just need to get the math right. And I'm going to do that for you. The basic idea is that when you sew the short ends of the cuff piece together to form a tube, you don't sew the entire length of that seam, but you leave two openings. These will then align as you fold your cuff to form the thumbhole. All right, enough talk. Let's start with the Zippy jacket.
The math for the Zippy is easy since the pattern piece is a nice round 5" high. For little hands a 1" opening works well, so I decided to alternate 3 1" seams with 2 1" openings. After folding the cuff, your thumbhole will end up exactly in the middle, with 0.5" on each side. (The pattern has a 0.5" seam allowance so you'll "lose" half and inch on each side after attaching the cuff to the sleeve).
Drawn out on the pattern piece:
Now we transfer this onto the fabric after folding the cuff piece short ends together (right sides together). Draw the lines to be stitched at 0.5" from the edge of the fabric. I like using a quilting ruler for this:
Now stitch on the lines. Don't forget to backstitch at the start and end of each seam!
After sewing your three 1" seams, press open and then fold the cuff in half on the fold line, right sides out and align the holes. Pin so the don't move around. Now you're going to topstitch around them to keep them nicely in place. If you're making a small size like me, you're probably going to have to put your sewing machine foot inside the cuff:
Congratulations, you've just made a thumbhole!
Now because of your topstitching you won't be able to fold open the cuff completely anymore in order to attach the cuff according to the pattern instructions. It can still be done this way, it's just a little more finicky. Place the sleeve inside the cuff, right sides together, Making sure to line up the seams. Now fold back one layer of the cuff as far as you can and attach the cuff to the sleeve.
Turn the sleeve inside out and fold back the inside layer of the cuff to cover the seam you just made. Then topstitch on the outside of the sleeve following the seam from the previous step and catching both layers of the cuff. Again, this is best done with the needle inside the circle you're sewing, especially for smaller sizes.
And you're done!
If you're making a women's shirt, I recommend a hole of about 2". These are the measurements I used for my Zinnia:
And if you don't have the patterns yet, these a discount until the end of the sew along! You can get either or both pattens for 10% off using the code ZINZIPPY. Valid through August 30, 2015. Go grab your copy here! (Affiliate link)
Now go sew some thumbholes!