Hi, I'm Mary Douglass, Sly Fox Fabrics' latest guest blogger and pattern hacker. Today we'll walk through an easy hack to turn any raglan pattern into a cold shoulder top. And soon, I bet you'll be making cold shoulder tops for yourself and even your loved ones!

Let's get started! 

I love the cold shoulder look. Unfortunately, I don’t love the look of my 57 year old arms in the cold shoulder look. So, I made a way to have the best of both worlds…the cold shoulder with just a peek of my arms showing. It’s a simple hack but it adds some detail that makes my sometimes plain shirts just a bit more interesting. Here’s how I did it:

I have an ongoing love affair with tri-blend jersey and I know I’m not the only one. It’s so beautifully lightweight and makes the most incredible summer shirts. I used a piece from Sly Fox that’s charcoal background with big white blossoms. Gorgeous!

I also chose a contrast for the bands around the neck, bottom of the sleeves , and for the cold shoulder opening on the sleeve. I picked an off-white for contrast to show off the opening in the sleeve.

After choosing my fabric, I grabbed my favorite raglan shirt pattern. I’ve tried t-shirts with set in sleeves and I’ve found, for this particular project, that a raglan is the best choice. It gives a little more room to open the sleeve since I can start right at the neckline. Set in t-shirt patterns work fine, too, if you don’t mind a much smaller opening.

I traced the sleeve pattern piece twice (you’ll understand why, trust me), added an inch at the bottom to give just a little more room, then folded it in half lengthwise to find the approximate center.

Draw a line down the crease. Mark lines 1/2 inch to each side of the center line. Make sure you do this on both pattern pieces that you’ve traced.

Now I was able to use a tool that doesn’t see much action in my sewing world…the French Curve. With the curve of my ruler at the bottom of the sleeve and the straighter edge at the neckline, I aligned my ruler first with the line that was closest to the back edge of the sleeve or the taller (longer?) side. With the outside edge of the curve facing the front of the sleeve, find a position for a curve that makes you happy (not sure how else to say that!). For myself, I just wanted a slight opening so I used a slight curve. I used some small pieces of 1/4” quilting tape to mark the start and finish of my curve on my ruler.

After marking the curve that went toward the front of the sleeve, I used my second traced pattern piece to mark the curve that went toward the back of the sleeve. Since I had marked my French Curve with tape, I was able to trace my next curve by lining up the tape with the line that was toward the front of the sleeve.

(See? This is why you need to trace 2 sleeves.)

After I had marked both pattern pieces, one with a curve to the back and one with a curve to the front, I cut out the curve on each piece, like this…

I used a contrasting fabric for binding to finish the cut edges of my curves.

Here are my binding cuts:

   For the cold shoulder opening, I cut the same length as the opening by 1.75”.

   Bottom of the sleeve I cut just slightly smaller by 2”.

I did what I like to call a “cheater” binding, meaning I folded the band for the opening in half lengthwise and pull ever so slightly as I attached it. I then pressed it at a low heat toward the binding edge. Then I stitched it with my coverstitch (double needle, whatever you use for topstitching knits) on the binding side, with this as my end result:

Then I overlapped just the width of the bindings to close the top and bottom of the sleeve…

Now, just put your sleeve in according to your pattern’s instructions! Easy peasy!

Well, I hope this gives someone something new to try…or gives someone who’s uncomfortable with bare arms, some comfort!

 I love MY cold shoulder look!

Thanks for reading!


Mary Douglass has been sewing professionally for over 30 years, and has experience with everything from dance costumes to boat seats. Learn more about her mother-daughter clothing business by visiting her website at www.marysewandso.com or on Facebook.


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing