How to make puff sleeves

Making a puff sleeve is not so difficult as it may seem. There are different ways how you can make it but this is how I usually do it. You can use this technic on both short and long sleeves.

Start of with a normal pattern of a normal sleeve in your measurements and draw a cross across the pattern.

Cut among the lines and separate the four pieces so you get space between them.

With this pieces you can make different kinds of patterns depending what kind of puff sleeves you are going to make.

A) By separate the four pieces like this you will get a pattern of the classic puff sleeves.
B) By connecting the upper tips of the pattern pieces you will get a sleeve that is only puffed on the lower part and normal (un-puffed) on the upper.
C) By connecting the middle tips of the two lower pattern parts you will get a pattern that is puffed on your shoulder and normal (un-puffed) on the lower part of the sleeve.

Place your pieces on your fabric like you want them, draw it out and cut your sleeve out.

Zigzag around the edges and then sew the sides of the sleeve together.

To make the puff effect on the upper part of your sleeve take needle and thread and start to sew two set of lines among the markings with big stitches.

Pull the ends of the threads on both sides to get the sleeve wrinkled.

To make the lower part of the sleeve puffed I usually use elastic band.
The elastic band will make it easier to take the sleeve on and off.

Measure your arm and make a ring out of the elastic band. Needle it to the lower part of the sleeve and sew it on. Remember to pull the elastic band as you sew.

Sew the sleeve on to your blouse and you are done!



One of the most distinctive features of 1890s fashion is the huge sleeve. This festive bodice boasts rather large puffed sleeves, perfect for a holiday evening party. The holly ornamentation and rich red silk ensures that it is just the right thing for Christmastime. The Museum does not have the skirt, but it likely would have been matching red, long, full but smooth, with perhaps a train in back. The bodice is lined with cream cotton, has 14 sewn in stays for a perfect fit and an inside 20” waistband of red and white striped ribbon. Both the band and the bodice fasten with hooks and eyes.

It was given to the Museum in 1922 by Mrs. John Julius LaRoche (Virginia Marguerite Tupper b. 1898). Perhaps the garment was worn by her mother, Mary Ramsay Bellinger Tupper (1866-1903) of Charleston.

The Charleston Museum Archives has issues of The Delineator, Butterick’s fashion magazine, from the 1890s. The evening dress shown here, from May 1896, shows bouffant sleeves and artificial flower adornment similar to our holly-bedecked bodice.  With the short sleeves of evening wear, long gloves would have been appropriate, and a feather fan would have added just the right touch. The Delineator encouraged home sewing, giving the pattern number, directions and yardages for current fashions.

Holly has long been associated with Christmas, wrapped in Christian symbolism. But even before that, the Druids believed that holly, with its evergreen leaves, kept the earth beautiful during the bare winter. The Celtic people of pre-Christian Ireland adorned their homes with holly to utilize its mystic and healing properties. And it was the sacred plant of Saturn, the Roman sun god, used during the Saturnalia festival to honor him.

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Puff Sleeve 101

I apologize for how massive this tutorial is but as a visual learner I really wanted to try my best to accommodate those that are like me. This tutorial is in no way perfect but has helped me a TON in achieving the puff sleeve effect I wanted for any of my cosplays. I hope to add more later and I am always willing to help if need be. Please don’t be afraid to message me if you’re ever confused!

First things first: you will need:
Face fabric, Lining fabric, Interfacing, Crinoline

I didn’t put the measurements as everyone has different armbands and sizes they want. For instance, my arms are only 10" round. You really don’t want to miss out on any of the materials as they play a huuuuge roll in getting this figured out correctly.

In case you wanted to use an elastic instead of a band, that will be a whole new story. Essentially, you’ll want to skip sewing the ends together and flip it right sides together, stitch elastic to the lining first, flip it back over with wrong sides touching, and top stitch the elastic from the lining to the face fabric. I will cover this method in another tutorial if I ever run into these sleeve pattern style again.

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