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Three ways to draft a puffed sleeves pattern.

There are three main types of puffed sleeves that are very simple to draft from the basic sleeve pattern. The idea is to create enough extra fabric for gathering, which means to “stretch” the pattern in places were the ruffling will accrue. The “stretching” can be done along the head and hem of a sleeve, but never in the underarm area.

The process itself is not complicated. Start with a paper pattern of a sleeve. Mark the middle third of your pattern with parallel lines 3-4cm apart, cut and open out the pieces. The fuller the sleeve you are after the further you spread the parts. Traditionally it cannot be made more then 5cm. For fuller sleeve cut the strips narrower. In some old pattern making books you can find the pictures of a puffed sleeve draft looking like a fan with the strips cut as narrow as 1cm. How to draft puffed sleeves

Depending on the shape of a sleeve you are after the gathering can be paced on the bottom or top of the sleeve, or both.

Puffed sleeves drafting process:


  • Puffed sleeve with gathering at the head.How to draft puffed sleeves


    The line of the new sleeve does not go parallel to the original pattern all the way, it extends out in places of a “stretch”. The extra fabric is needed to create a volume.

  • Puffed sleeve¬† with the gathering at the bottom.How to draft puffed sleeves


    The bell-shaped sleeve is drafted exactly the same way. Without agathering the bottom of the sleeve hangs freely, creating soft folds.How to draft puffed sleeves

  • Puffed sleeve gathered both at the top and at the bottom.How to draft puffed sleeves

Four common ways to finish a puffed sleeve:


  • ¬†with a bandHow to draft puffed sleeves
  • with ruffleHow to draft puffed sleeves
  • using elasticHow to draft puffed sleeves
  • faced with bias bindingHow to draft puffed sleeves



Puffed sleeve with gathering at the top and straight bottom can be self faced and hemmed, no additional steps required.

How to draft puffed sleeves

6 thoughts on “Three ways to draft a puffed sleeves pattern.

  1. I really like this idea on the sleeves and wondered how to make a full sleeve onto a fitted sleeve and also how to make the bottom to fit around the arm when there is just little gathers at the top

  2. Fitted sleeve pattern is drafted during construction. If we are talking coats, jackets and formal dresses the sleeve is constructed with two seams and may have a small elbow dart (rarely seen in everyday clothing). If we are talking a long sleeve t-shirts, then you don’t have to bother, just take in the ease at the seam as much as you want. Knitted fabrics are very forgiving that way.
    For the second part of the question. Short sleeve with gathered top and fitted around the arm. When drafting your paper pattern overlap the pieces at the bottom enough to make the sleeve hem equal to the circumference of your arm + 2-3cm for ease. If you doing it for the first time make a trial run on scrap of fabric.

  3. Thank you for such a clear and simple process. I want to add a puff sleeve to a sleeveless dress.
    I cannot wear sleeveless garments any more. I have been trying to find a pattern. With a puff sleeve.
    I could not. You solved my problem.

    1. Glad, it was helpful. I would like to see the results.

  4. Thank you thank you! I have just been asked to make a child’s blouse with puffed sleeves almost down to the elbow for her Highland Dancing. I have a basic blouse pattern and will follow your instructions for a sleeve with a ruffle (inserting a piece to make it longer). Phew….. Can start breathing again.

  5. Yayyyy pufffed sleeves. lets see if it works.

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