Exactly what it sounds like! We are taking a blouse and up-cycling it with crochet terrarium sleeves.

crochet terrarium sleeves

Inspiration and Design:


Hello again! A while back I shared a Pinafore Thrift Flip with you and many mentioned wanting to see more up-cycling ideas. I loved that you loved it! 

So here I am, once again, just torn into pieces… Erm, that is not what I wanted to say. But there are pieces involved. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Like Iñigo said, back to the beginning. You lovely crafters loved the crochet flipping content and I wanted to create more to share with you. I was toying between different outfits when Rachel Maksy came out with this video “One day Make: Terrarium Sleeves”

Then I just had terrarium sleeves on my mind. After drooling over this make, an insta friend sent a post by @hellolavanderdesigns over and I was lost in the proverbial rabbit hole.

crochet sleeve upcycle

Of course, before I could fully dive down it, I had to convince myself that I had the skills necessary to embark on this adventure. 

Do you also need to be your own cheerleader before starting a project?

The Item?

This time, instead of going thrift hunting, I dived into my closet in search of an item that sparked joy but I didn’t use because of X,Y,Z. 

I had purchased this very vintage remake from a sewist on instagram who didn’t like them anymore. While I love the 2 colors I bought off her, I am not a fan of the choke hold the elastic on the sleeve cap has on my arm.

We are fixing this with crochet. Why?

  1. As I said, I really like this top, makes me feel all Marlyn Monroe on top of a wind vent glam.
  2. I wanted us to explore remaking (upcylcing) pieces in our wardrobe with crochet.
  3. A lovely viewer asked that I make crochet sleeves.
  4. Rachel Maksy was originally going to go for the gathered bust part too.

Other components for crochet sleeve upcycle:

Because the fabric used to sew this top is very soft, using anything thicker than fingering weight yarn didn’t sit well with me. Actually, that’s a bit of a fib, it’s lace weight or bust.

Using a laceweight yarn with a slightly larger hook would imitate the cotton/elastic blend of the blouse.

Aunt Lydias #10 crochet thread and a 2.5mm hook did the job quite well. Unfortunately, I don’t know the color of mine because I already had it in my stash and I tend to throw away labels. But I only used 1 standard size cone for bothe the sleeves and the seaming. 

That’s one good thing about crochet thread, excellent yardage. If you can’t find Aunt Lydias #10, Curio from We crochet is also an excellent choice. Unlike Aunt Lydias, it’s not mercerized but I’m not bothered by this at all.

Terrarium sleeves:

While crocheting a sleeve that is more to our liking is a great way to upcycle, I wanted to take it a step further and make it a mixed media sleeve.

  1. Crochet sleeve cap
  2. Embroider on sleeve
  3. Organza layer to resemble a terrarium.

These are the three basic steps that I had in mind when I started the project.

Crochet Terrarium Sleeves:



These are the steps I followed to create my own terrarium sleeves.

I crocheted a sleeve cap.


Sl st: slip stitch

Sc: single crochet

Sc2dec: single crochet decrease. Insert your hook into the st, yo and pull up a loop, insert your hook into the next st, yo, pull up a loop, yo and pull through 3 loops.

Onto the sleeve (make 2):

Sleeve cap is worked bottom up.

For the sleeve I felt it wise to trace an actual sleeve cap from a sewing pattern. I went witht the Meghan Sleeve found in a Tilly and the Buttons book. I traced it with about ½ larger than needed just to give myself some le-way.

Note: Starting with a sewn pattern gives us the general shape to follow along with our crochet.

If you don’t have a sleeve pattern, simply measure your upper arm and add about 3” to that measurement for extra “mistake” space. Mine measured 11” and I chained to a total of 14”

With your crochet thread and your 2.5mm crochet hook

  • Ch 77, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch, ch1 and turn. (76)
  • Rows 2 and 3: Sc, ch1 and turn (76)
  • Row4: Dc in first st, ch1, sk1, *3 dc, ch1, sk1; rep from *, to last sk1, 2 dc, ch1 and turn.
  • Row5: Sc in each st and ch.
  • Row6: Sl st 5, sc in next, sc until 5 sts remain, leave these sts unworked, ch1 and turn.
  • Rows 7 and 8: Sc.
  • Row9: Sc2dec, sc to 2 sts before end of row, sc2dec, ch1 and turn.
  • Rows 10 – 13: rep row 9.
  • Row14: Sc
  • Row15: rep row 9
  • Rows16-27 rep rows 14 and 15.
  • Rows28 and 29: Sc.
  • Row30: rep row 9
  • Rows31 and 32: Sc
  • Row33: rep row 9
  • Rows34 -35: Sc
  • Row36: rep row 9
  • Rows37 – 38: Sc

Rows 39 – 41: rep row 9

FAsten off and cut yarn.

Crochet Sleeve Embellishments

Once the sleeves are crocheted, embroider witn your chosen stitches. For this, I settled on the woven wheel stitch (Tutorial) and some French Knots. Simple but pretty. 

embroidery for crochet terrarium sleeve. Some french knots

Don’t limit yourself to embroidery, you could also glue some flowers or crochet tiny flowers like Moara Crochet and stitch those on to your sleeve.

embroidery for crochet terrarium sleeves, woven wheel.

After completing the embroidery we need to join our sleeve cap to the blouse. 

To do this:

  1. Following the sleeve shape, cut the blouse sleeve off  ¾” away from the seam.
  2. Fold over and secure with a running stitch
  3. Use 1.5 mm crochet hook to crochet groups of 3sc around the sleeve opening. I crocheted 51 groups. Don’t fasten off, we will use the yarn to attach our sleeve.

Normally when we join our sleeve to the body we do it from the inside with right sides facing. But in this case, I decided to make the seam visible.

  1. Match the underarm of your sleeve cap to the underarm of your blouse, pin. 
  2. Repeat step 1 for top of sleeve cap. 
  3. Ease your sleeve cap around the armhole by gently stretching and pinning to fit around.
  4. Join with sl st’s.
Organza (terrarium)

Now that we have completed our stitching, we must face the organza madness. Use your sewn sleeve cap pattern to cut out the organza. 

Note: for this section I decided to sew with a contrastign green thread so that the stitching would simulate vines. Also, because I’m a scaredy cat, I decided to curl the raw edges of the organza with heat instead of sewing them. 😀

Next, using a threaded needle do a running stitch at the top of the sleeve cap, ¼” away from the raw edge, this will be our gathering thread.

Gather the organza and place the sleeve on top of the crochet one, once again make sure to match the underarm of the crochet sleeve, the blouse and the organza. Pin in place and join to the crochet with whip stitches.

For the bottom raw edges of the sleeve, I sewed a ribbon around and then folded over once. Whip stitched in place.

There you have it, that’s how I made crochet terrarium sleeves or how I upcycled my wardrobe with crochet sleeves. I’m very happy with how they turned out. Of course, You don’t have to make terrarium sleeves, you can simply use this technique to crochet a cap sleeve without the embroidery madness.

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