How to Remove Sleeves from a Denim Jacket


I have a denim jacket I bought two years ago in a haste. I worked in downtown Indianapolis in a prime shopping district and randomly picked up the jacket between two conference calls. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I thought going for a walk (aka shopping) was a great idea. I just remember being on the phone walking and suddenly having a Loft bag in my hand.

Like most things that are bought in a haste and without a plan, the jacket hasn't gotten much wear over the past two years. It had long sleeves, the length was shorter than I wanted it to be, and despite getting an XS it was still rather large on me (not because I'm tiny but the jacket was just odd).

I've always hated the long sleeves the most and after much deliberation (about 15 seconds to be exact) I decided to remove the sleeves. I don't mind it being too short if it's a vest. A short denim vest feels more fitting and like something I would wear on a summer evening.

So meet the former long sleeved denim jacket that is now denim vest. I already love it so much more.

Although this was a super easy refashion, it wasn't just cutting off the sleeves and be done. It's always always always worth your time to inspect seams and determine how it is sewn first. Just like you use different makeup remover when you wear waterproof mascara, you'll create a better action plan when you know what you're working with.


  1. Turn the jacket inside out and inspect the seams. You will notice only two seams are visible but there are actually three seams. The invisible seam was the first seam when it was sewn together, followed by two exterior seams (see the image with the two arrows). 
  2. Rather than picking all the seams out, the invisible seam is the only one that needs to be removed. Use a scissors or a seam picker for this. It was rather time consuming, but so worth it!
  3. Cut the sleeves off making sure you're cutting right next to that first exterior seam. This will minimize fraying and hide any small fraying that does happen. Look how clean that arm hole is below. Isn't it beautiful?
  4. And, that's it! Now try it on and see how much more you love it! 

So what about you? Do you have something hanging in your closet that you just never reach for? 

Take it out and try it on. Try to pinpoint at least two reasons you never wear it (is it too short, too big, sleeves too long?) and how you would fix those issues. Look at the seams and see if it's an easy fix (like removing the sleeves) or if it's something a tailor could fix. If it is, schedule some time for you to fix it or take it to a tailor. If not, donate it.

A clutter closet makes getting dressed difficult. And it takes the fun out of getting dressed. 

Start working through your closet one unworn piece at a time. Create a fix it plan or donate it. You'll slowly start creating a wardrobe you love (and that fits you!) without spending much money. 

Mindy Meyer