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Hi everyone! It’s Terra from Mama Says Sew.
Have you ever wanted to alter a pattern to make it your own but you didn’t know how? Well today I’m going to show you how to make a simple alteration to a pattern you already have so that you can add flutter sleeves.
If you’ve never drafted your own pattern before, don’t worry! One of the simplest things to do to change a pattern is to add flutter sleeves.
When you add flutter sleeves, you’ll end up gathering them, so there is some room for error.
I’ll also show you two different ways to add flutter sleeves — a lined version and an unlined version.
You can use a pattern that is sleeveless or that has sleeves — it just needs to have a lined bodice.
I love flutter sleeves because they add a dainty little feminine touch. They’re also practical — and keep the sun off of little shoulders.
All you need for this project is a pattern with a basic bodice with a lining and sewing supplies, like fabric, scissors, and thread. You’ll also need a ruler and paper and a pencil.
To start, lay out your front and back bodice pieces, overlapping at the shoulders where the shoulder seam is. This will give you the finished shoulder length minus the seam allowance in the pattern.
Mark where you want the flutter sleeve to start and stop and measure the length.
Now you need to decide how full you want your ruffle to be. I usually like to make them 3 x the length to get a nice full flutter sleeve. Take your length from the last step and multiply by 3 (or less if you want a more subtle flutter sleeve). Then divide that number in half. For example, my length from the last step was 4.5 inches. I multiplied 4.5 by 3, then divided by 2, giving me 6.75 inches total.
Now draw your flutter sleeve. Draw a straight line across the top, then a curved line down to the bottom.
Now add your seam allowance for gathering. I used 1/2 inch for all my seam allowances. The seam allowance shown below will be where the gathering stitches will go, and will be enclosed between the bodice and the bodice lining when you sew your top or dress. The dotted line is where you will hem or add a lining to your flutter sleeve.
Draw a line connecting the dots.
Trace over the lines and this is your pattern piece for your flutter sleeve. You’ll cut two sleeves and two lining pieces, or, if you want an unlined sleeve, just cut two sleeves.
To cut your sleeves, make sure the fold is perpendicular to the selvage. The grainline of your fabric should run the length of the pattern piece.
For a lined sleeve, continue as follows.
With right sides together, sew the lining to the sleeve along the curved edge. Trim your seam.
Turn right sides out and press. Topstitch if desired.
Run two rows of gathering stitches along the flat edges of your flutter sleeves.
After you’ve sewn the bodice and bodice lining together at the shoulder seams, gather the sleeves and pin them along the sleeve opening. Make sure that the raw edges of the sleeve are all within the bodice seam allowance.
Baste the sleeves to the bodice.
Sew the bodice lining to the bodice around the sleeves and the neckline. Trim seam allowances and turn right side out. Now all you need to do is follow the pattern as written to finish your dress or top.
For unlined sleeves, follow the directions above. The only difference is rather than sewing the lining to the sleeve, you’ll turn the curved edge under twice and hem. Curved edges are a little tricky to turn under evenly, but just do a little at a time and press as you go.
Good luck with all your alterations!
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It’s not so scary to alter clothing – check out a few more great tutorials where we share how to make simple alterations to your favorite pieces: