How To: Balloon Sleeve Top

When it comes to puff sleeves I think go big or go home. These pathetic ones I experimented with a few weeks ago no longer even qualify as puff sleeves to me.

The things that impact how puffy/full your sleeves will be:

  • Material – The more stiff the fabric, the puffier the end result
  • Length of the sleeve piece
  • Width of the sleeve piece

TOOLS:
Fabric (how puffy sleeves become depends on fabric type – the more drape the more subtle the sleeves. I used a stretchy poly-cotton, not very stiff)  |  Scissors  Pins  |  Elastic  |  Thread & sewing machine
I. Measurements of my top pieces (I’m a EU36/US4) – using very stretchy fabric:

II. First I cut out a basic pattern for the sleeve curve..

.. And measured its width – around 17 cm. I rounded that up to 18 cm.

To get my sleeve piece width, I multiplied that 18 cm by 4 = 72 cm. For the length I just measured down from my shoulder and the length I wanted was about 34 cm.

Then I took one of my sleeve pieces, folded it in half and placed my pattern in the top-right corner like so, to cut along the curve.

Opening back up I had this. I added a basting stitch starting and finishing about 8 cm from the edges (where you see the ends of the threads). Repeated for the other sleeve piece.

III. Before I gathered the sleeve, I did the shoulder seams of the top. Then I gathered enough for the length to match..

.. And pinned the sleeves in place + sewed them.

IV. Next I pinned the sides and sewed them.

V. And folded the hem of the sleeve, sewing a casing there (leaving a gap for elastic to go in). With a small safety pin I inserted my elastic, cut to a comfortable length to go around my arm.

I then had this. I could have kept it at that, but wanted a more finished look for the sleeves.

So I did some quick cuffs. Just cut a piece of fabric twice as wide as the gathered end of the sleeve, and about 12 cm wide. Sewed it into a circle, pressed the halfway fold with my iron, and pinned right side to right side, sewing in place.

Then I had this. I folded the cuff along the halfway press..

.. And then again at the seam allowance and pinned in place on the reverse, where I hand-sewed in it place.

And had my ready cuff:

Love love love.
xo,
Julia

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