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A Summery Flutter Sleeve

June 24, 2012

I do not go sleeveless. Ever. I am lucky to be fairly strong, but my upper arms are not very well defined, so if I can avoid exposing them, I do. This is sometimes tricky, as there are many summer styles that are sleeveless. So, if there's a shirt or dress that I adore, but it comes sans sleeves, I add a flutter sleeve to cover the doughier parts of my upper body.

I love using a lightweight chiffon or knit chiffon, which work great for the dupioni top in this example, but if I'm working with a more casual top, a drapey knit also works fabulously.

This one involves some math, but don't panic. I'll walk you through it (and it's pretty easy)!

First, measure around the upper part of your arm between the two points you wish you to attach your flutter sleeve. The positioning is entirely up to you. Don't sweat it if it's an estimate -- you can alter your flutter sleeve late in the game if you need to. (I had to on this one!)

My first measurement was 10 inches. I'm cutting the flutter as a half-circle, so I have to figure out how long the radius of my half circle is. If a circle's circumference (C) is calculated as 2 x Pi x radius (r), it stands to reason that half a circumference is Pi x radius. So, since we know that the half circumference measurement is 10 inches, we just need to divide that by Pi (3.14) to solve for the length of the radius.

Short version: Divide your measurement by 3.14 to get the radius. For mine, this result is roughly 3.2 inches. I show my work below (someone call my high school geometry teacher!):

1-flutter-sleeve.jpgOnce you know the length of your radius, you have to mark out your semi-circle on paper to start your pattern. Mark an edge of your paper with a point -- this will be the center of your half circle. Measure from that point, and mark the length of the radius, working around your semi-circle with a series of dots.

Eventually, your arc will make a half circle. If it looks sparse, feel free to fill in with more dots. As long as you're marking the length of your radius from the point you marked as center, it will fall within your arc.

3-flutter-sleeve.jpgOnce you've made your series of dots, draw an arc to connect your dots.

4-flutter-sleeve.jpgTo check your work, measure the semi-circle you just drew and see if it matches the first measurement you took.

5-flutter-sleeve.jpgNext, decide how long you want your sleeve to be. I decided on somewhere around 4.5 inches. Add this number to your radius number to get the length of the second radius you'll be using to draft your pattern. Using the exact same center point you used for your first semi-circle, draw in your second, larger semi-circle.

6-flutter-sleeve.jpgUse the paper pattern you just created to cut out your two sleeve pieces.

7-flutter-sleeve.jpgNext, test the dimensions of your sleeve with your garment. I had to cut mine down a little bit -- 10 inches was longer than I really wanted.

Once you have the sizing finalized, it's time to edge finish your sleeves. For the smaller arc which will become the top of the sleeve, I like to stitch a narrow piece of ribbon to the sleeve, and then turn it under and stitch again. This keeps the sleeve from distorting and stretching during wear.

8-flutter-sleeve.jpgOnce my edge is in place, I edge finish the rest of the piece. If you have an overcast or rolled hem foot for your machine, now is the time to use it!

9-flutter-sleeve.jpgOnce the sleeve is finished on all edges, you simply tack it to your garment at the top corners both front and back with a little hand stitching, and you're ready to go!

11-flutter-sleeve.jpgYou can move your placement of your flutter sleeve up or down to suit your taste. You can cut it longer than needed and gather it for a fuller fall. You can also cut it as a full circle instead of a semi circle for even more flutter. This is also a good trick to add a little princess flair to a little girl's wardrobe.

Once you start playing with simple garment altering, you may find yourself inventing all kinds of ways to add new style to existing pieces. Be sure to share those with us on Facebook!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on June 24, 2012 7:59 PM.

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