Making Lace Sleeves

I wasn’t sure what to title this. It is supposed to be a chemise to wear underneath my grey taffeta kirtle, but I didn’t have very much cotton gauze left. So it ended up being a shirt with lacy sleeves.

I’m still working on the Ana de Mendoza costume, which is based off of this painting. If I was following the painting closely and being accurate I should have used satin or chiffon for the sleeves. But I was worried those materials, along with the grey taffeta would look really boring and flat.

So I decided to use lace instead. My lace fabric stash is a little bit limited, so I used a three yard piece of lace trim which I purchased for $5 from this etsy seller a couple months ago. This lace isn’t the best quality, it’s stretchy and has a sheen to it which screams cheap lace, but the pattern is really pretty and it’s very soft.



In case my doodles in my last post weren’t enough for you, here are more that I made about the undershirt. I’m not sure how much sense these make to other people, but they provide enough information for me!



The lace got chopped into five pieces. First I cut two inches off the top of the three yard length, this was gathered down and used on the neckline of the kirtle. The remainder was cut into four equal (twenty seven inch long) pieces. Two will be used for each sleeve.


I gathered the sleeves down to the measurements listed above.


At the ruffly ends I sewed elastic onto the interior. This isn’t historically accurate at all, but it’s way more convenient than trying to stuff your hands through tiny cuffs!


Here are the two bottom portions of the sleeves.


And one of the top portions.


I sewed them together with a running stitch.


Then sewed more elastic into that seam. Now I had cute, puffy, stretchy, sleeves! Can you think of anything better than that?


I set those aside and switched to making the cotton shirt. This is made from an eighteen by sixty inch piece of cotton gauze. It gets folded in half and a slit is cut in the folded end – this will be the head hole and make it easy to get on and off for fittings throughout the process.

I marked ten inches down from the fold on each side, this is where the sleeves will be attached.


I topstitched the sleeves on, then did up the sides with french seams. Now I could try it on! The sleeves were shorter than I had wanted but since the length was determined by the width of the lace trim i’m not too upset with myself. I think they turned out really cute and are certainly more interesting than chiffon or satin sleeves made with the same pattern.


To figure out the neckline shape I laced myself into the kirtle bodice and drew a line with chalk about one inch away from the neckline. I only did this on one side, since both sides should be the same.



Then I took it off and transferred the chalk markings to the other half of the neckline to make sure everything was even.

I’ve decided (after finishing it) that this neckline is really stupid, I should have made it flat in the center (even though the kirtle isn’t). It looks so silly! But it doesn’t show when the kirtle is worn, so I guess it doesn’t matter.


I finished the hem with some cheap, scratchy lace which i’ve been meaning to use up.


And the neckline was finished with a different lace that has a similar price tag and texture.


That’s it! Pretty ugly all by itself, but when it’s underneath my kirtle I think it looks quite nice. I ended up making a sash of pale blue silk chiffon which gets wrapped around the middle of each sleeve and into a bow!


Here is another worn photo which shows off the sleeves a little bit. They really are too short, but they are cute anyway!

Ana de Mendoza2

Thank you for reading! The blog post about the hat should be up on Friday!

4 thoughts on “Making Lace Sleeves

  1. Nina says:

    Oh wow! That looks really awesome! I agree with you about it looking a bit silly alone, but under the kirtle it looks really nice! The sashes are just the icing on the cake, they make it all come together! Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next 🙂

  2. Anita Betschart says:

    You are so clever, the sleeve length looks perfect, even tho it might not be periodically correct. Looks lovely.

  3. Neena says:

    the top is great. I went to a goodwill store and picked up some curtain lace panels in a bag for a couple of dollars and made sleeves for my queen Victorian dress. It turned out very nice.

  4. Melanie Sands says:

    So amazing. And you are so pretty, too. And so talented. I can barely thread a needle, and the costumes I made for my theatre one-woman plays opr short films never looked anywhere near as pretty as yours do. You are inspiring.

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