Puff sleeves

Before following this tutorial, it will help to read our notes on the sleeve block here first.

Puff sleeves

Trace off your sleeve pattern at the desired length. Then draw several straight vertical lines from the sleeve head down to the hem (they should be at right angles to the hem). I drew down the side of a standard ruler to get an even width for each line.

Cut along all the lines you have drawn, cutting right through the pattern piece (i.e. creating several strips).

Now spread out your strips of paper on top of a piece of pattern tracing paper. Spread them a small distance from each other for a slightly puffed sleeve, and a wider distance from each other for a very puffed sleeve. Make sure that the distance between each piece is the same.

Pin or tape your sleeve pieces to the pattern tracing paper below.

Draw around the edge of the sleeve shape you have just created, and cut out your new sleeve pattern piece.

Cut out your new puff sleeve, and attach to your dress! Once you have sewn the shoulder seams, sew 2 or 3 rows of gathering stitches at the head of the sleeve piece. If you want to do the cuff band method rather than an elastic casing (see below), also sew 2 or 3 rows of gathering stitches at the hem. Gather the head until it fits the armhole of your dress, then pin the sleeves to the armholes. Pin the centre point of the sleeve to the shoulder seam, and the edges of the sleeve to the armhole edges. Then pin along the sleeve cap every inch or so, easing the two pieces together where necessary.

Attach the sleeve to the dress with a 3/8” seam allowance. Press towards the sleeve.

Sew the side seams and sleeves of your dress in one continuous seam from top to bottom. You now have two options to finish the bottom of the sleeve: insert an elastic casing, or create a cuff band.

For an elastic casing, simply press the hem up by 1cm, and stitch in place with a twin needle or a zigzag stitch, leaving an opening to insert your elastic.

Measure a length of narrow elastic around your arm, ensuring that it is snug without being too tight. Add on a little extra for joining the ends together, and cut two pieces the same length.

Pass your elastic through the casing you have sewn (using a bodkin is the easiest way to do this!), then sew the ends together with a wide zigzag stitch.

Stitch up the opening in your hem, using the same twin needle or zigzag stitch.

For a cuff band finish, measure around the point of your arm where you want the cuff to go. Since this tutorial is for knit fabrics, it’s worth wrapping a piece of fabric around that point of your arm and measuring that way how long you want it to be so that it is stable without being too tight. Add on ¾” to the length for seam allowances. Draft a cuff band that is this length, by twice the depth you want the finished cuff to be, plus ½” added to the depth for seam allowances. For reference, my piece was 10″ long by 2″ deep and my top size is XS.

Fold the cuff band in half, right sides together, and sew the short end. Press to one side.

Press the cuff band in half lengthways, wrong sides together.

With right sides together and raw edges aligned, pin the cuff band to the sleeve hem. it helps if you mark the mid-point from the seam of each piece with a pin, then match up the seams and the pins.You have already sewn 2 or 3 rows of gathering stitches at the hem of the sleeve piece. Pull on the gathering stitches at the sleeve hem, until the opening matches the cuff band.

Pin the cuff band to the sleeve hem, attach with a ¼” seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance towards the cuff.

Finished cuffed puff sleeve!