6 March 2014

Sewing Coco 4: Finish the Sleeves + Sew the Hem

We’re so nearly there with making Coco! In this post, I’ll walk you through finishing the sleeves – first without cuffs, then with cuffs – and stitching the hem. Let’s get going…

Finishing sleeves without cuffs

Fold the bottom edge of each sleeve under by 2cm (3/4 in), wrong sides together, pressing and pinning in place. Try your Coco on and adjust the sleeve hems if you need to until you’re happy with the length.

Set your machine to the zigzag stitch and to the width and length of stitch you’re using for topstitching (I’m using 2.5 x 2.5). Zigzag topstitch the bottom edge of each sleeve using a 15mm (5/8 in) seam allowance.

TIP: When sewing a smallish loop such as the sleeve hem, be careful not to stretch out the fabric. It’s less likely to stretch out if, rather than wrapping it around the sewing machine free arm, you keep the loop of the sleeve facing up on the machine and sew along the inside.

Finishing sleeves with cuffs

The cuffs – which are an optional attachment for the three quarter length sleeves – are constructed in a similar way to the funnel neck.

You should have cut two cuff pieces. Fold each cuff widthways, right sides together, and pin the short ends together. Snip a small notch at each end of the fold – this will help us align the cuffs to the sleeves in a minute.

Zigzag stitch the short ends of each cuff using the stitch setting you’re using to join seams (I’m using 1.5 width x 2.2 length). Trim the seam allowances to help reduce bulk, and press them open.

Now fold each cuff lengthways, wrong sides together, matching the seam lines and notches, and pin the long edges together. Set your machine to either straight or zigzag stitch and a 4mm stitch length, then baste (tack) together the long edges of each cuff using a 10mm (3/8 in) seam allowance.

TIP: When sewing a smallish loop such as the cuff, be careful not to stretch out the fabric. It’s less likely to stretch out if, rather than wrapping it around the sewing machine free arm, you keep the loop of the cuff facing up on the machine and sew along the inside.

Slip one cuff over the end of each sleeve, right sides together, aligning the basted edges of the cuff to the raw edge of the sleeve, matching the seam lines and notches. Pin each cuff to the sleeve, then zigzag stitch them together (1.5 width x 2.2 length).

Press each cuff away from the sleeve and press the seam allowances towards the inside of the sleeve. Zigzag topstitch (2.5 width x 2.5 length) the seam allowances to the sleeve, just below the seam line. To wear the garment, roll half of the cuff over so it just covers the seam line. If you want to, you can secure the end of each cuff to the sleeve with a couple of hand stitches to stop it unfolding.

Sewing the hem

Right, now to sew the hem. Fold the bottom edge of the garment to the inside by 2cm (3/4 in), pressing and pinning in place. If you’re making the top version, fold the ends of the hem in ever so slightly so they don’t show on the outside of the side splits.

Now try your Coco on. Are you happy with the length of the hemline? Now’s the time to make it slightly shorter if you want to – repin it, press it again neatly, and chop off any excess length so the folded under seam on the hem is 2cm (3/4 in). (If you’d prefer it longer next time you make it, see the post on lengthening the pattern.)

If the hem on your fabric looks a little wibbly, you can try applying hemming tape (like you did on the neckline) to give it a bit more structure.

Once you’re happy with the hemline, straight or zigzag topstitch (2.5 width x 2.5 length) the hem using a 15mm (5/8 in) seam allowance.

And that’s it! If you’re adding pockets, we’ll cover that in the next post in the Coco sewalong. If not, your Coco is finished! Woop! Please leave a link in the comments to a photo - or you can tweet me - I'd love to see...


  1. Hi Tilly, although I'm not sewing this top it's still useful seeing your thought processes and suggestions to making up the top. One question/suggestion: when attaching the cuff, why did you sew all three layers together at once? The alternative would be to sew one edge of the cuff to the sleeve, then fold up the other edge and sew that over the seam allowance (like in a cuff on a blouse), thereby enclosing the seam. It could either be sewn by hand or with the machine (a twin stitch might be nice). Not sure if I am missing something though? Rachel :-)

    1. So glad it's useful! The pattern uses this technique firstly because it's a rolled cuff, not the kind of cuff you'd get on a blouse, so you won't see the raw edges on the outside of the garment, and secondly because it's much easier to sew edges like this on knits rather than trying to fold and stitch one second edge under (you'll often see a similar finish on knit necklines), and this top is aimed at beginners. I hope that makes sense!

    2. Gotcha - thanks for clarifying :-)

  2. Tilly your tutorials are amazing! You always make it to easy to understand, so I don't go and pull my hair out over it! Thanks from me and my hair! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Thank you, I'm so pleased to hear that!

  3. I sewed my first Coco last night. Love love love it. Have been wearing it all day - and have only now realised my silly mistake over the sleeves - had put cuffs onto full length sleeves. This has been annoying me all day, each time washing up and so on. Am going to get unpicking and hack that sleeve back to 3/4 length now I have read this. Thanks for a great tutorial!

  4. I was just thinking that for those who don't like to top stitch with a zigzag stitch they could just use a slightly longer straight stitch (2.5 - 3) and stretch the fabric slightly as they sew it. It gives as flexible seam, but in a straight edge. I found that technique was discussed when someone was using a machine that didn't have zigzag and it works very well.

  5. Yay! I finished my first coco in practice fabric which was pink with white polka dots. It was so easy to follow your pattern and the blog posts helped too. I cannot wait to make my second from this beautiful fabric http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/sewing-patchwork/fabric/woodland-knits-polka-knit

  6. Tilly thank you so much for such a great pattern, I LOVE my Coco dress and am busy saving up for more fabric so I can make more!!! Thank you for making handmade so fabulous! Theres a wee pic of my finished item here.... http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/cd/41/e7/cd41e7dfb9dfd8d8cd6db1b3b1a9cbba.jpg

  7. Hi Tilly! I've just finished my second Coco, this time in stretchy T-shirt fabric (which may have been a bad choice...). I've used a zigzag stitch and the hem, neckline and cuffs are rolling up. Do you have any advice on how to fix it, please?! Thanks x


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