Making a sleeve-slider

Make a slider for lymphedema management

Making instructions and 10 pictures showing how to use the slider to put on a sleeve.

Photo 5 After the sleeve has been pulled over the slider.

By Leda Raptis

Compression therapy is central to lymphedema management.  However, putting a compression garment on can be difficult. This may lead to poor adherence to treatment, which is likely to negate any benefit achieved via months of laborious bandaging. A solution to this difficulty is a slider.

A slider is a tube made out of slippery cloth such as nylon.  It goes on your arm first, followed by the compression garment, and is then removed.

Sliders are commercially available and can be purchased over the Web ( or from your local fitter.  But these sliders can be expensive.  A cheaper alternative is to sew one yourself.  Here are some simple instructions on how to make an arm slider.


  • Nylon cloth (1.2m is enough for 3 sliders), as used for the outer shell of windbreaker coats, or “nylon taffeta”, or spinaker-sail cloth. The advantage of the latter is that it does not fray, which makes it easier to sew, since it does not need hemming.
  • Thread, in matching color
  • Paper, ~1.1 in length (newspaper is OK, or you can tape pieces together)
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

Cutting instructions

  • Using the ruler and pen, draw the pattern in Figure 1 on a sheet of newspaper; then cut out the shape.
Figure 1: Cutting and Sewing Guide
  • Test the nylon to find out which direction is most slippery. Wet the thumb and index fingers, pinch the cloth and slide back and forth in one direction, then at a 90 degree angle. Most materials are more slippery in one direction than the other.  It is important to sew the cloth so as to take advantage of its most slippery direction. Usually it is along the length of the bolt, that is you need to buy 1.2m, not 0.5 meters as it would be in the case that the slippery direction was across the cloth.   The width is usually 1.5m, so that you can make 3 sliders with the 1.2m (Fig. 1). Spinnaker-cloth is equally slippery in both directions.  You can get it from sail-makers.
Figure 2 – Slippery direction test
  • Spread the material on a cutting table so that the most slippery direction is lengthwise as shown by the arrow (Figure 1 A, repeated below).  Pin the pattern on top.
  • Cut out the shape shown in Figure 1 A.  The size shown fits most arms but it can be made bigger if necessary.
  • Cut a strip of 34x5cm and a strip of 30x6cm for the stirrup (Figure 1 B).

Sewing instructions

  1. Fold along the dotted lines (see Figure 1A), placing the two less slippery sides together, and sew the three sides (b,c,d) in straight stitch; then hem in zig-zag.
  2. Turn the tube inside out and sew the three sides (b,c,d) with a straight stitch at 2mm from the edge.
  3. Fold the edges of the strips and sew to make sturdy strips of 34×1.5cm and 30x2cm.
  4. Sew the 34cm strip (e) along the wider end of the slider (a). Then insert the 30cm strip (f) as shown, fold (e) over it and sew it to the 34cm strip.  Do several passes to ensure strength.
Figure 1: repeated – Cutting and Sewing Guide

Using the slider

  1. Fold the narrower end of the slider (c,d) inside the wider one as shown in Figure 1C.
  2. Pass the arm inside.
  3. Pull the compression sleeve on top of the slider. It should slide easily.
  4. Remove the slider:  Hold the sleeve and pull from the stirrup, by passing a door handle or the foot through the loop.

A photo essay on using the slider and sleeve

Photo 1: Whole Sleeve – Slider
Photo 2: Sewing the Stirrup
Photo 3: Slider folded. Note the red section has been tucked inside the blue pocket.
Photo 4: The arm is inside the slider.
Photo 5: After the sleeve has been pulled on over slider. You can see the blue slider through the sleeve.
Photo 6: Hold the sleeve, and with a foot (or door knob, or friend) pull the slider out
Photo 7: Keep pulling the slider out. You see the red material under the sleeve as the slider unfolds.
Photo 8: Continue to draw the slider out from under the sleeve
Photo 9: The last of the slider is removed from the sleeve
Photo 10: Finished. The sleeve is in place. Note the removal of the slider goes quite quickly and easily.

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