puff the magic sleeves

So after my last successful sewing journey, I realized how much fun it was to “take myself back to college” so to speak and actively design with unusual construction techniques and details. Which, is something I love about 1930’s fashion, which I honestly feel is often over looked. Retro and vintage somehow always seem to mean 1920’s or 1950’s when people use those words.


For example, this stitched down pleated kimono style sleeve that ends up with a leg-o-mutton shape or this neat dress with the gathered dart on the bodice. And I’m not exactly sure whats happening in the last one, but its some kind of folded flounce thing. At any rate, they capture the eye with line, form and construction. That’s a fun combination to make and wear. Massive win-win, here.

As always, we start with a sketch. I’m thinking….. gathered darts to make a puff sleeve so that the sleeve is included in the bodice and not a separate pattern part.



This fits both of the design suggestions I gave myself. It’s a cropped blouse with a gathered dart giving the sleeve a band at the bottom and a pouf over the shoulder. It has a shoulder seam that runs from the top of the neck band, down the gathered poufpouf and across the bottom band of the sleeve. The front of the bodice has a sloping dart from the neckline, and the back of the bodice is contoured into the neckline for a flush fit just above the shoulder blades. I choose a white washed-cotton plain weave fabric and some wood-look buttons (real wooden buttons aren’t washable so in this case, plastic is better). The sleeves are finished with a stitched-down facing.


Put it all together, and it’s super cute with this yoked knit skirt I made a few months ago, or these lacy white and yellow shorts I made last year, which by the way are made out of a curtain valence- but that’s another story.

pufftop copy

In fact, my mother thought it was so cute, she had to borrow my pattern and make her own! She altered the blouse to be a bit longer- she’s not into the crop tops and high waisted bottoms. Here we are together, dressed in matching tops… just like that one time in ’92 when my mom, my sister and I all had matching floral chintz jumpsuits with wide white collars and a little red bow tie. I’d include a picture, but I foolishly asked permission from my mom first and she nixed that idea. Oh well. Cue in the imagination.

mom and me


3 thoughts on “puff the magic sleeves

  1. you should totally post that picture – the one where my eyes are all shut and we look like a trio of goof balls – I need a copy of it in my archives 😉

    1. That requires finding it. Although, I remember having found it somewhat recently, when Michael was born. The search is NOT over! I really want to find it!

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