Thursday, January 3, 2013

how to alter sleeve shape

My vision for K's Liberty Christmas dress had a more traditional puffy look to the sleeves rather than the elfin shape of the original Fairy Tale Dress.  This actually isn’t all that tricky to do and I took some photos of the process to share.
Start by tracing your sleeve pattern piece. Then, cut it in half at the underarm. Realign the pieces, overlapping at the shoulder seam notch. Play with it a little until it begins to look more like an ordinary sleeve. (If you feel unsure about sleeve shapes, look at pattern pieces from other garments to see how differnt kinds of sleeves are shaped.) When you have a shape you like, draw in the hem. You want to curve this upwards a little for a sweet short sleeve.  Don’t forget to add a seam allowance on each side of the underarm. The round shape of the tulip sleeve didn’t have a seam.
C ut the new pattern piece out of muslin and try it on. I made a muslin of the Fariy Tale bodice for her Tinkerbell costume, so it didn’t take long to add just one sleeve. This is a worthwhile step to make sure everything works before you cut into precious fabric.
I finished these sleeves with a tiny bias cuff. I simply measured baby girl’s arm and added a couple of inches for ease. I gathered the hem into the cuff to help the sleeves poof even more.  I didn't line the sleeves, so I finished the seams with bias binding.
Voila! Princess sleeves.


  1. Thanks for sharing how you altered the sleeve. I absolutely adore the Liberty dress!

  2. Thanks for explaining the change to the sleeve on such a gorgeous dress. It looks beautiful!

  3. Thank you! I'm pleased you found it useful.

  4. Hi Melanie,
    I nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award. You can see the post here:

    Have a lovely day, Ana Sofia

  5. Ana Sofia, I am so touched! Coming from you, this is a wonderful compliment! I'm so inspired by the exquisite things you make for your darling girl. Thank you.

  6. Hi! I think we are kindred sewing spirits. Your blog always pops up when I am searching for ideas! I am working on a hybrid Puppet Show/Dorothée dress and this sleeve tutorial was just what I needed. Thank you!

  7. Oh, Nicola, I've always wanted a kindred sewing spirit! Im adding your blog to my reader so I don't miss anything. Cheers! :)