Making a puff sleeve from a regular sleeve pattern

I recently decided to make puff sleeves for a modified version of Butterick’s B5209.

Since this involved a bit of mathematics, I thought I’d share it here.

  • First, take any old sleeve pattern. I used a shortened version of the sleeve from a Bolero pattern.

basic sleeve pattern with markings

  • Mark the middle of the sleeve pattern and draw a line from top to bottom. Then mark 2 equidistant lines either side of this line. I used a distance of 8.5 cm either side of the middle, as that was perfect for the size of my sleeve.

sleeve pattern cut in 4

  • Cut the sleeve pattern along those drawn lines.

sleeve pattern pieces with 3cm distance

  • Lay the pattern pieces out and leave equal gaps in between them. I used a gap of 3cm, but it can be more or less, depending on how puffy you want your sleeve to be.

changing the height of the outer pieces

  • Now align the outer pattern pieces by moving them downwards, so the curve at the top of the sleeves lines up with them. Draw a joining line between the pattern pieces along those curves.

moving outer pieces out by another 3cm

  • Now move those outer pattern pieces outwards at the bottom by the same distance as the gaps between the pattern pieces. (In my case, I moved them out by another 3cm each.) Join them at the bottom by drawing a curved line.

puff sleeve pattern

  • Draw around all the pattern pieces, take them off, and you’ve got a puff sleeve pattern.

Stupidly, I forgot to tak a picture of this, but I used two lines of gathering stitches at the top and achieved this:

puff sleeves gathered at the top

You can also put gathering stitches in the bottom of the sleeves, if you are putting them into a band. I originally planned on doing this, but in the end, finished the bottoms with elastic, so did not need this.

Once you have this, join the front and the back of the sleeves as you normally would, then attach them to your garment.

  • To finish them in a super easy way, simply sew elastic in the bottom of the sleeves.

puff sleeve with elastic band


puff sleeve bottom pinned with elastic

  • Make sure to pin evenly when putting elastic in, line up the middle of the sleeve with the middle of the elastic band, then find the middle of both remaining sections again, line up, pin and so on.

And here we have a finished puff sleeve from the front

puff sleeve front

and from the back

puff sleeve back


Fixing a zip

This is probably something everyone who sews has experienced: you get asked if you can change broken zips, take up trousers and fix holes in shirts.

I don’t really enjoy doing these things, especially as I only have time to sew in the evenings and on weekends.  However, since it was my husband asking and the garment in question a Thomas Hooper hooded jacket which means a lot to him, I couldn’t really say no. (Also, it’s good practice for putting in zips!)

The zip in question had been broken for about 2 years, but he had still been wearing it without being able to close it. (He really loves that jacket…)

The first thing I noticed, when I finally took a good look at the jacket, was how wonky the zip was:


hoody with wonky zip


It just seems incredible to me that it could be this bad. I guess washing and wearing over the years is probably a part of this, as the zip won’t stretch out while the cotton/elastane mix will.

In any case, I took the zip out.

The construction after that was fairly easy, if a bit more time-intense than i had anticipated (, because I have no time-management skills). I think it took me about an hour.

First, I pinned one side of the new zip to the outside of the jacket.


more pins


I sewed this on using a blind stitch foot, as it gives me enough room for the zip. It’s actually my go-to method for zips and I have found it really effective.


sewing on one side


Then it’s on to matching the design on the front. I usually do this by closing the zip and pinning the unsewn side of the zip onto the right side of the jacket where I think it needs to be:



pinned in place


This system works as a guideline of where the zip will sit once it’s closed and makes sure that it doesn’t end up uneven.

After sewing the second side of the zip on, I did some top-stitching. I tried to do this in the same place where it was done with the old zip, but didn’t manage, as the fabric was so stretched out. It’s a shame that it doesn’t really hide the zip either.

Nevertheless, I managed to make the jacket slightly straighter than before.


one complete hoody


This is the finished product on my mannequin, which is admittedly maybe the wrong shape for this jacket. I also just realised that in the picture, the image doesn’t look lined up at all. I swear it’s just the top stitching being pulled outwards, so you can’t see how it matches perfectly. 😉

My husband was over the moon though. I guess sometimes it is worth doing alterations for other people.