Adding a knit cuff to a pair of pants or sleeves is a very easy thing to do. You can transform a normal pair of pants or pajamas into a pair of jogger pants, and you can add a soft cuff to any sleeve.
This is a good thing to know how to do because once you know how to sew on a cuff, you’re ready to make a lot of other things with knit fabric: shirts, sweatshirts, baby clothes, and more.
What kind of fabric do you use to make a cuff?
You’ll need some knit ribbing. Knit ribbing can be purchased at the fabric store by the yard, or online. (This site has a great variety of colors and is quite reasonably priced).
Another great option, and something I do all the time, is to use upcycled cuffs from other items of clothing. Whenever I have a piece of clothing I no longer want, I check it for good buttons, zipper pulls, AND fabric (cuffs).
You can also use recycled knit clothing that has a lot of stretch to it. The fabric will need to have at least 30% stretch to it for it to work as a cuff.
I do it all the time, and you can get some really cute and unique results. Knit leggings fabric works well. You can usually tell what fabrics will work well for a cuff.
Ribbing will come in different weights and fabric content. Some will stretch more than others. Ribbing with a lot of cotton content will not stretch as much. Use your best judgment when choosing knit ribbing for your particular project.
I’m going to show you how to add a cuff to a pair of pants and sleeves. The pants and shirts can be made of knit fabric AND woven fabrics.
How to Add a Cuff To a Pair of Pants
If the pants need to be shorter, decide the length you want them to be and cut them off. If the pants are the right length, cut off the hem. (Don’t worry, they won’t be too short because you’re adding a few inches of ribbing).
1- Measure the leg opening
Once you have the length figured out, measure the width of the leg opening. If it is wider than 8 inches (adult) or 6 inches (children) then you’ll need to take in the legs. This is easy to do.
Using a writing device mark the desired seam allowance at the bottom of the pants. You may only need to take it in on one side or you may need to even it out and take a little off each side. Start half-way up the leg seam and gradually taper to the point you marked. You can use a sewing machine or serger.
If you have a serger, use it. It will save you time because you won’t have to finish the seams. Once you have the width you want, measure to see how wide it is.
2- Cutting out the cuff
The cuff measurement needs to be about 2 ½ inches less than the width of the leg opening. (Don’t measure the circumference of the leg opening, measure the width of it as it is laying flat, and the fabric doubled). I hope that makes sense.
Subtract that 2 ½ inches from that measurement and that will be how wide you need to make the cuff. (fabric doubled). The height of the cuff is up to you.
Average cuff height (the finished cuff will be folded in half)
Adult: 6-8 inches
Child: 4 inches
Cut two out on the fold.
3- Sewing the cuff
Fold the cuff in half with the RIGHT SIDES FACING TOGETHER.
Sew down the long side.
Fold the sewn cuff in half with WRONG SIDES FACING TOGETHER.
Mark the half-way point with a pin.
4- Cuff Application
If the pants only have one seam, find the halfway point of the leg opening and mark it with a pin.
With the RIGHT SIDE of the pants facing out, place the cuff over the top and around the leg. Align the half-way points and pin in place.
Take it to the sewing machine/serger and starting at the seam, sew all the way around using a 3/8” seam allowance.
Start sewing, adjust the edges and then start sewing again, stretching the cuff as you sew. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
If you used a regular sewing machine you’ll need to finish off the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch. (width 4, length 3).
Do these same steps on the other pant leg.
How to Add a Cuff To a Sleeve
If a knit shirt has been hemmed, most likely the opening is not really wide so you won’t have to take any off the width.
1- Measuring the Cuff Width
Measure the armhole (fabric doubled) and subtract ½ inch. That will be the width measurement (fabric doubled).
Average Sleeve Cuff Height
Adult: 5 inches
Child: 4 inches
Of course, you can make the cuffs as long as you want.
2- Cutting out sleeve cuff
Cut 2 of the cuffs out of the ribbing fabric and place RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, with the stretch of the fabric laying horizontally.
3- Sew down the side.
Turn the right side facing out and mark the halfway points with a pin.
4- Cut off the sleeve hem.
Mark the half-way point with a pin.
5- Sleeve cuff application
With the right side of the sleeve facing out, place the cuff over the top and around the sleeve. Match up halfway points and pin them in place.
Take it to the sewing machine and proceed sewing around just as you did with the pants. Take your time! You’re sewing through three layers of fabric and you’re sewing in a very small space. Start sewing, adjust the edges and then start sewing again, stretching the cuff as you sew.
Finish seam with zigzag stitch if needed.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right?