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