Emulating Designer Sleeve Details..

Whilst browsing runway shows of the designers and trawling through Pinterest for inspirational images suitable for sleeve designs and Sleevefest I came across a couple of images that looked gorgeous and maybe even achievable. Two of them were from Valentino and the third from Cavalli. I adore looking at the beautiful workmanship of the top designer it’s like a piece of art…stunning.

The first image from a Valentino design is a barely-there raglan sleeve…more of a shoulder covering…in fact I found a picture of the dress back and it’s pretty much backless. Beautiful isn’t it?

I like to think that I can use the inspiration for a possible alternative to a raglan sleeve adaptation, so I set about trying to create something like it yet wearable for everyday. I’ll go through the process of how I did it. Firstly, you need a use-able pattern base and that means finding a fitted dress or top with a raglan sleeve. I found a couple of examples and I’m sure you could find many more. How about McCalls 6883 or Vogue 8902


Vogue 8902

Vogue 8902

McCalls 6883

If you study the inspiration photo. You can see that the banded effect starts half way up from the under arm. This means you’ll need a facing which goes around the armholes and underneath. I suggest you make a toile of the top of your dress/top and get a good fit around your arm and shoulders. Once you’ve done that you can start pattern hacking. In the next 2 photos you can see raglan-style pattern sections of the front, back and sleeve. In photo 2 the armhole notch and red dotted line on the sleeve show the new shorter length sleeve and matching marker. I’ve also drawn on a red line that indicates the armhole and neckline facing shape.

I made a length of bias tubing of about 1cm wide and cut it into sections. Using the little capped sleeve muslin piece as a base, I laid the tubes over and followed the contours of the sleeve. I pinned them in place and then used a piece of ribbon (seam tape would be better) and basted it across the tubes to secure them.

Finally, I unpinned the muslin piece and attached the banded section to the front and back bodices. My example is all in muslin fabric, but I’m pleased with how it turned out and I think it worked well. By wearing a bra with clear straps this look can be totally bra friendly. Another idea would be to use a sheer sleeve base like chiffon underneath the bands. You could stitch the bands in place onto the chiffon for a more structured effect that holds the bands in place. Wouldn’t that be pretty too?

The next designer details I want to talk about are fluted cuffs. Very on trend and give a nice feminine touch to a sleeve. I love the delicate sheer version  in the photo at the top of this post…again by Valentino, and I can see this working on a short sleeve too. Any fairly lightweight to sheer fabric would work well with a fluted cuff. A basic straight sleeve pattern will be perfect as a start point. Try it short, elbow length or even soup dipping full length…ha! Or how about a double layer like on this sleeve by Acne studios.

A soft gauzy cotton would work well in that version. Another idea is to add the effect onto a shirt or blouse cuff like this gorgeous Cavalli one. Try Butterick 5526 as a start point.

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

On the photos it looks as though there may be a bit of gathering of the flounce effects involved too though I’m going to go through the process of making a circular flounce now, as shown on the sheer sleeve by Valentino, but if you want gathers as well, just make your circle shapes with a bigger circumference..

So, firstly, you need the measurement of the bottom of your sleeve or cuff including seam allowance. Once you have this you can work out the diameter and radius of your circle shape needed for the flounce. Here’s a great web page that allows you to find out the radius of a circle so you can make your own pattern….For instance… a lower sleeve edge of 22cm(including seams) generates a radius of 3.5cm and you can use a pencil and compass to draw a circle with it set at 3.5cm. Then decide on your cuff length and draw a second circle. Viola! You have your flounce pattern.

Alternatively you can use a straight cuff pattern piece or lower sleeve section as a start point. Divide it up and spread into a circle shape like this:…. Draw a circle around it by connecting the sections and you have your cuff pattern shape.

To hem your circular cuffs why not try roll hemming with a roll hem foot on your sewing machine…or overlock around once and just turn up the depth of the overlocking stitches…or try my method for roll hemming using an overlocker as I wrote about here.

I really love getting inspiration from the top designers and I hope you feel inspired yourself to try one of these techniques too. Why not start off by practising in muslin fabric?

See you next time sewists!

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  1. July 20, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Thank you for this inspiring post. The first inspiration is absolutely stunning and as someone who never shows my back it is a no-go. But I can be inspired to make my own version. Thanks for that!

    • Diane G
      July 20, 2017 / 10:09 am

      Thank you so much Ghislaine. Your lovely comment means I achieved my goal to inspire sewists to try new things yet making them everyday wearable.

  2. July 20, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Love these, especially the first one! A really nice variation on off-the-shoulder style 👌

    • Diane G
      July 20, 2017 / 8:06 pm

      It’s a bit different isn’t it Helen? I’m glad you like them 🙂

  3. Tobilola
    July 28, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    Hi Diane , I just discovered your page on Instagram and I love what you are doing here.

    • Diane G
      July 29, 2017 / 5:57 am

      Thanks so much for the kind comment Tobilola

  4. Monika
    July 29, 2017 / 5:48 am

    I don’t know how you do it but ypu make it look so easy!

    • Diane G
      July 29, 2017 / 5:59 am

      Aww. You’re too kind thanks Monika x

  5. August 16, 2017 / 4:22 am

    Look at that dress with the strap-py sleeves and back! Sometimes these designers get it perfect!

    • Diane G
      August 16, 2017 / 9:45 am

      It’s a stunner isn’t it Linda?

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