The Burrito Method: An Innovative Way to Sew a Neat Sleeveless Bodice

Burritos are not just for dinner anymore! In fact, the “burrito method” is a handy technique that lets you fully finish the openings on a sleeveless bodice in a flash.

Finish a Bodice using the Burrito Method

Why use the burrito method for sewing garments?

  • This method encloses the neckline and sleeves seams from the inside out.
  • You can use this method with any sleeveless or small cap sleeve bodice pattern that does not require a back seam.
  • The burrito method includes finishing instructions for three openings: the neckline and both sleeve openings.
  • It’s easy enough for a confident beginner to tackle, though I do recommend you know a bit about how garments are sewn together before trying this method.

How to finish a bodice neckline and sleeves using the burrito method

Before you begin, make sure to read through these instructions and your pattern instructions to ensure they’ll work together. In this tutorial, the outer bodice is pictured as a blue floral with a front inset and the lining is green.

What you need:

Bodice with Inset and Lining
  • Sleeveless or small cap sleeve bodice pattern without a back seam
  • Fashion fabric and lining fabric, cut according to your pattern
  • Sewing machine and your usual supplies
  • Serger to finish the raw seam allowances (optional)

First, sew the shoulder seams and neckline

Step 1:

Stitch shoulder seams

Follow the pattern directions to attach your outer front and back bodice together at the shoulder seams. Finish seam allowances as desired or instructed. I used pinking shears, as these edges will all be enclosed and less likely to fray.

Repeat for the bodice lining.

Step 2:

Press shoulder seam open

Press each shoulder seam allowance open or toward the back bodice. 

Step 3:

Match and Pin Neckline

Layer the outer and lining bodice pieces right sides together. Make sure the outer and lining front and back bodices are matched to each other, especially around the neckline. Pin the neckline, matching shoulder seams.

Step 4:

Stitch bodice neckline

Stitch around the entire neckline using the instructed seam allowance. Finish the raw edges as desired or instructed.

Note: The pattern I’m using has an uncommon neckline. Your pattern will likely have a rounded curve, and look different than the pictured neckline.

Step 5:

Clip and Turn Neckline

Clip the neckline to allow it to lay flat once it is turned. Turn the bodice right side out, so that the the outer fabric and lining fabric are wrong sides together. Press the neckline seam.

Next, sew the first arm opening

Step 6:

Once you neckline is done, you can move onto the arm openings. Place the bodice on a flat surface with the outer fabric showing. Arrange the piece so that the back bodice is to your left, and the front bodice is to your right.

Step 7:

Roll the bodice

Beginning at the bottom edge nearest you, roll both the outer and lining together.

Continue rolling the bodice

Continue rolling the bodice until the rolled fabric is directly over the shoulder seam farthest away from you.

Step 8:

Pull out the lining layer

Reach under the bottom edge of the roll and pull the lining layer out from underneath the outer bodice, leaving the rolled fabric in place. This creates the “burrito.”

Step 9: 

Match outer and lining RST

Fold the lining over the rolled fabric, matching the shoulder seam and edges of the sleeve opening on the outer bodice. The lining and outer fabrics will be right sides together.

Pin sleeve together

Pin the sleeve opening, making sure the rolled fabric is away from the seam allowance. Do not pin the side seams.

Step 10:

Stitched Sleeve

Stitch the pinned curve. Carefully avoid stitching over the rolled fabric. Finish the raw edges and clip the curve to allow it to lay flat once it is turned.

Step 11:

Turn the sleeve burrito

Reach between the lining and outer bodice layers and pull gently on the rolled fabric through the top or bottom of the “burrito”. Once it is turned right side out, press neatly.

Finally, sew the last arm opening

Step 12:

Roll the fabric to the second sleeve

Place the bodice flat, with the outer fabric up and the finished sleeve edge farther away from you. Arrange it so the bodice back is to your left and the front bodice is to your right.

Step 13:

Roll the fabric, this time beginning at the top with the finished sleeve edge. Continue rolling down until the fabric lays over the shoulder seam of the unfinished sleeve.

Pull out the second lining layer

Reach under the top edge of the roll and pull the lining layer out from underneath the outer bodice fabric, leaving the rolled fabric in place.

Step 14:

Match and pin the second sleeve

Fold the outer bodice over the rolled fabric, matching the shoulder seam and edges of the sleeve opening on the lining fabric. The outer and lining will be right sides together. Pin the sleeve edge.

Step 15:

Stitch the pinned curve. Again, be mindful that the rolled fabric does not get caught under the stitching. Clip the curve and turn the bodice right side out. Press well.

Finished second sleeve

You have finished all three openings in the bodice! Complete your side seams and project by following the instructions in your pattern. If you would like, you can see how I finished this bodice here.

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