Sew puff sleeve on a shirt – tutorial showing how to do this DIY pattern hack to make a gathered sleeve with a banded hem
Hey y’all, today I’m going to share how to sew a puff sleeve. Puff sleeves are an easy pattern hack you can do to any pattern with a fitted sleeve. I’m using my Verbena pattern but this tutorial will show you how I altered the pattern piece so that you can created gathered sleeves on any top.
The puffed sleeves give the top a totally different vibe in my opinion, and I love that such a simple alteration can result in a very different look and feel for the same pattern. To create this look, all you have to do is alter the sleeve pattern piece. You can see how I did that in the video below or on YouTube here.
Make a puff sleeve pattern
As you can see in the video, the first step is to draw lines to divide the sleeve pattern piece. I drew 5, but you could do 3 instead. The important part is that the lines are equally spaced across the sleeve cap and equidistant from the armscye points. If the sleeve piece for your pattern is cut on the fold, the same principle applies and you’d also space your sleeve a little away from the fold to get more puff at the top of the sleeve cap.
Once you have those vertical lines marked, measure the bottom of the sleeve and write down that measurement. Cut the sleeve pattern. You might want to number the pieces to help keep them in order. Then spread the pieces apart as show below to create extra width at the cap and hem to gather. The more you spread the pattern pieces, the puffier your sleeve can be. It’s not necessary to spread each piece the same amount – you might want to spread more at the sleeve head and less toward the side seams so that more of the puff is at the top of the shoulder. You may wish to use a French curve ruler to smooth out the curve of the sleeve cap.
My puff sleeve pattern is in the image below. I taped my pieces to the other paper, but you also might want to do this by tracing onto new pattern paper.
Make the Hem Band Pattern
Use the measurement from the uncut sleeve to determine the hem band length for your sleeve. The hem band will be a rectangle that length. For hem band height, take whatever you want the finished band height to be and multiply by 2, then add inside and outside seam allowances. In my example I wanted a finished band height of 1/2 inch, so I did 1/2″ x 2 = 1″ + 1/2″ inside seam + 1/2″ outside seam = 2 inches.
Sew your puff sleeves
To sew puffy sleeves, you’ll need to start by sewing basting stitches on the sleeve cap and on the sleeve hem. I prefer to use my sewing machine to do this, but you can also hand sew your basting. Then pull on these basting stitches to gather the fabric. The hem should be gathered enough to match the sleeve band in length, and the sleeve cap should be gathered to match the armhole of the bodice in length.
Sew the gathered sleeve right sides together with the bodice – I like to concentrate my extra fabric in the sleeve near the shoulder seam. Then sew the gathered hem to the hem band or cuff. The gathers are what will help your sleeve puff. Note that if you really want the sleeve to puff out, using a woven fabric with less drape than the rayon blend jersey knit fabric I used here will get you that look. And that is how you sew a puff sleeve!