Monday, March 24, 2014

How to turn your shirt sleeves into puffy banded sleeves

For the Soda Pop Polo sew-along I decided to create a simple every-day-Princess look. Because let's be clear, I love princess dresses, but they may not be so practical for the playground.

Using the Soda Pop Polo Shirt PDF Pattern, I created the cute little tunic above; I simply cut a portion off the length of the shirt and added a gathered skirt to it with a bias tape trim.
The ruffle collar is already part of the pattern, so that one was easy. However, the sleeves took some more time.

Puffy sleeves are not difficult and you can pretty much change any shirt sleeve into a puffy sleeve. This tutorial shows you how to create puffy sleeves that work for pattern pieces that are cut on the fold. Although it's possible to turn sleeves that are not cut on the fold into puffy sleeves too, we'll save that tutorial for another time.

First, you will want to use a short sleeve pattern piece, and you'll want to shorten the bottom edge of the pattern piece by quite a bit. The best way to go about this is measuring your child from shoulder to where you want the sleeve to approximately hit, and add 3/8" seam allowance to that measurement. Hemming allowance is not needed as the sleeve will be bound and not hemmed.

Now, as per the instructions, you would be placing the long, straight edge on the fold, but we're not going to do that.

Instead, we're going to slide that edge quite a bit away from the fabric fold. The amount you're sliding your pattern piece away from the fold will determine how puffy your sleeve is, so for super puffy sleeves you may want to slide your piece away as much as 5 inches, or perhaps even more (make a test sleeve if you're not sure!).
For this shirt, I've placed my pattern piece approximately 2 inches away from the fold.
Now, cut around the sleeve pattern piece as shown in the picture below; you'll curve around the top and bottom of the sleeve piece approximately 3/8" to allow for some gathering in the sleeve and sleeve head. Make sure you keep the underarm seam intact; don't curve around that edge.

Now, use the sleeve you just cut as a template to cut the other sleeve.

Since I wanted a Snow White tunic, I added very simple strips of knit fabric to the sleeves. I wanted a playful and fun look, not a sharp costume look, so I cut red knit strips without measuring, just eyeballing the width.
I attached them right onto the sleeves (right side of the strips is up, and the right side of the sleeve is up) with a simple zigzag stitch.
I did not measure where to exactly place my strips as I wanted a loose look for the sleeves.

Now we'll need to cut the band for our sleeves. I measured around my daughter's arm for this and added 1/2" - for seam allowance and a little bit ease. Make sure you cut the band four times as wide as you want it to be, as it will be sewn bias-tape style.
Trim the edges of the strips to fit the sleeves.

My strip for the band was 3.25 inches wide.

Fold it in half along the length and give it a good press. Unfold; you have now created a crease.

 Using the crease as a guideline, fold in the two raw edges towards the crease. Give it a good press.

Fold in half along the length again, enclosing the raw long edges in the process. Give it a good press.

 Alright, time to gather our sleeve bottom and add that band to it.
Use a gathering stitch along the bottom edge of the sleeve and gather the fabric by pulling on the bobbin threads until the sleeve bottom is approximately the same width as the band.

Depending on how much you placed your pattern piece away from the fold, you will have to gather more or less to meet the width of the sleeve band. Your sleeve may look a bit different than mine.

Fully unfold the sleeve band, and align the raw edge of the sleeve band with its right side against the wrong side of the gathered sleeve.
Pin in place and sew together along the crease line, closest to the raw edge.

Flip the band over to the right side of the sleeve and fold it back into the premade folds. You are enclosing the raw edge of the sleeve in the sleeve band.

Pin in place, make sure you cover up the previously made stitching, and sew close to the folded edge. Repeat for the other sleeve.

Fancy sleeves!

Now we're ready to start setting in the sleeves, but first: it's important that puffy sleeves are set atop a narrower shoulder. Otherwise they will 'hang' off the shoulder instead of stand up on that shoulder perky and proud.
Because a polo shirt pattern, which I used for this tunic, has traditionally wider shoulders than say, a regular fitted shirt, I trimmed off about 1" at the shoulder, and curved back out to the underarm.

Depending on the shirt pattern you're using, you may not need to trim the shoulder.

We'll now need to gather the sleeve head (that's the top of the sleeve) to make it fit into the armhole. This will add the puff to your sleeve!
As you can see, at this point it's still much too big to fit in.

Use a gathering stitch along the sleeve head and, pulling on the bobbin threads, move your fabric so it gathers the sleeve to fit approximately into the armhole.

That's it! You can now sew your sleeve into the armhole as you would do with a regular sleeve, and finish your shirt as instructed.
You will not need to hem your sleeve after you've set it in.


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