28 October 2020

How to Sew Thumbhole Cuffs

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

There’s something so comforting about pulling your sweatshirt, sweater or cardigan sleeves down over your hands when the weather turns cold. This thumbhole hack means you can still hold your cup of tea and work the remote. You are welcome. 

In this extract from my book, Make It Simple, I’m going to show you how to add thumbhole cuffs to your Bertha cardigan, a pattern which is included in the book. It also works great for pretty much any sweatshirt, sweater or cardigan that has cuffs, including our next sewing pattern release, which is coming next week… watch this space! ;)

We also made a little video for those of you who prefer to see movement with your demos...

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons
How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons


YOU WILL NEED

Supplies listed for the pattern you’re making, plus:
  • approx. 0.1m (1/8yd) extra cuff fabric - make sure the fabric you pick for your cuff has good recovery so it doesn’t stretch out of shape
  • small piece of paper, ruler and pencil
How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

Lengthen the cuff pattern to 30cm (11¾in) and widen it to the width of the sleeve in your size 1.5cm (5/8in) above the bottom edge (so it fits the sleeve exactly, rather than needing to stretch to fit). Replace the notches on the original pattern with four thumbhole notches along each (30cm/11¾in) underarm seam at 8cm (3 1/8in) and 14cm (5½in) from each end. Add a grainline arrow running down the length of the pattern piece.

Cut two cuffs, snipping the thumbhole notches.

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

Fold each cuff lengthways, right sides together, bringing together the notched seams. We’re going to sew them together, leaving the thumbholes unstitched. Using a narrow zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine, sew from one end to the first notch and backtack securely. Start sewing again from the second notch to the third notch, backtacking securely at each end. Sew from the fourth notch to the end, backtacking securely.

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the seam allowances open, then fold the cuff in half widthways, wrong sides together, bringing the thumbholes on top of each other. Hold the seam allowances on one side of the thumbhole so they’re together inside the cuff.

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

Reach inside the cuff with your other hand and pinch these seam allowances together from the inside between a finger and thumb. Carefully pull the pinched seam allowances out through the cuff opening so they’re wrong sides out. Pin them together at each end of the thumbhole, pulling the rest of the fabric out of the way. Stitch these seam allowance layers together across the hole with a 12mm (1/2in) seam allowance, being careful not to catch any other layers in the stitching.

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

Turn the cuff right side out again (folded widthways wrong sides together) and do the same with the seam allowances on the other side of the thumbhole. Turn the cuff right sides out again and press. To make the thumbholes extra secure, you can use a wide and short zigzag (5mm wide by 0.7-1mm long) to topstitch a small bartack at each end of the hole. (Bonus points if your cuff now looks like a friendly dolphin – yay!)

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

With the cardigan right side out, slip a cuff over each sleeve, aligning the raw edges. Pin them together, matching underarm seams. Narrow zigzag stitch or overlock. Trim the seam allowances if you didn’t overlock them. Press the cuffs away from the sleeves and press the seam allowances towards the sleeves.

How to sew thumbhole cuffs - Tilly and the Buttons

And there you have it! Snuggly thumbhole cuffs. Now, who's for a cuppa?

*****
Published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant) 2020
Instructional photos © Jane Looker
Model photos © Ellie Smith
Model Phoebe Nickalls

Make It Simple book