It’s time for the second post about making this years holiday dress! Part one can be read here and is about making the bodice. Today i’ll be going over how I made the sleeves, which i’m excited about because they are my favorite part of this dress. I wasn’t expecting to like them so much, since they are really simple, but I adore how the cuffs turned out. They have little bows on them so my wrists feel like presents!
I started by drafting a full length puff sleeve pattern. They flare out more at the bottom, so they have a slight bell shape but are pretty full at the top too. I probably would have made these wider but I was working with fabric limitations. I’m kind of happy the fabric restricted me, because the shape worked out really nicely and they probably wouldn’t have looked right if they were any bigger.
I turned the bottom five inches of the sleeves edge inward by a half inch and sewed it down. Then turned it inward again so the raw edge was hidden, and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. I did this because the lower few inches of these sleeves have to be left open to allow my hand to pass through. My hands are too big to fit if they are sewn closed all the way to the wrist cuff!
I also gathered the lower edge of the sleeve down to my wrists circumference by hand with a running stitch that was pulled taught as I went.
Then I cut out the lining for the cuffs, which are just rectangles of quilters cotton. I marked guidelines an inch away from each edge, then folded the raw edge up so it touched that line and sewed it in place.
This way every edge of my cuff was finished.
I pinned my sleeves onto the cuffs, with all the raw edges facing upward. Then sewed it down with my machine.
The gathered edge was quite bulky so I topstitched over it several times until it became relatively flat. The backside of these did not look pretty, but they are functional, which is what matters most when it comes to the interiors of garments!
Since these cuffs are very fitted I decided to use hook/eye closures. I sewed two of these into each cuff – one at the top, one at the bottom.
My cuffs fit perfectly at this point, but I realized later that I actually made them too small. The cotton had a tiny bit of stretch to it, so they eased nicely over my wrists. Once I added the top layer of fabric (which didn’t have ANY stretch) to the cuffs, they became much more difficult to hook up and I was left with some red marks after wearing them for long periods of time. Silly mistake on my part.
Once the hooks were sewn in I trimmed the frayed edges at the cuffs.
Then I cut out two pieces of ribbon and stitched them over the top side of the cuff, so all the ugly bits were hidden.
Doesn’t that look so much better?
Now it was time to make the bows for the cuffs. Here are the two lengths of ribbon I cut for them – I’d say I used around ten inches of ribbon for each one. I sewed the ends of the ribbon together so I had two circles, then pressed down in the center of the circle so I had two even loops.
I wanted to use the same ribbon for the centers of the bows, but this ribbon is awfully wide for the centers of such small bows. So I folded the velvet part of the ribbon towards the gold trim and sewed it down. This created a quarter inch wide fold that made my ribbon a half inch smaller, and much more appropriate for these bows.
(I take bows very seriously, clearly)
Then I wrapped the smaller ribbon around the center of each bow and sewed the ends together. And tah-dah, perfect little bows!
I was going to put these on the backs of the cuffs, but they were so cute that I decided to sew them onto the front instead. Here they are pinned in place.
And sewn on!
Then I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. Like I mentioned earlier, I left the lower few inches open so I can fit my hand through.
I sewed the bottom half of the sleeve on first, then gathered the top half so it perfectly fit into the arm opening. Then it was sewed in place with a whip stitch. I’ve been doing puff sleeves this way a lot recently because it lets me better visualize how dense I want the gathers to be before sewing them, which I like.
At this point the interior of the bodice wasn’t looking great. It isn’t that bad, but there are some frayed edges and knots of thread which aren’t nice to look at.
So I cut out a layer of lining from quilters cotton.
Pinned it in place.
And sewed it in with a whip stitch.
Then my bodice, and sleeves, were complete! It still doesn’t look like much. I think this bodice really comes to life when it’s worn, it’s quite…flat looking when it’s just laid out. Luckily I will have worn pictures to share very soon – they should be going up on Wednesday or Thursday.
The final “The making of” post and video about this project will be up tomorrow! And that will be followed by photos of the finished ensemble. I got behind on my Christmas related posts, so you will be getting a lot of posts at once (I hope you don’t mind too much)!
Really quickly I wanted to mention the Christmas themed headpiece I made. It isn’t exciting enough to get it’s own post, but I’m really happy with how it turned out so I wanted to share it with you guys. A tutorial on the process of making it can be watched here, and photos will be below!
Thanks for reading!