Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sleeve Flounces--A Tiny Tutorial!

Sleeve Flounce 6

Sleeve flounces became popular in the mid 18th century and remained popular as long as elbow length sleeves were worn. These, of course, are a style suited to your fancier gowns, as they can get in the way. They're also best suited to lightweight fabrics that can hold a cut edge, though at least one gown in the Victoria and Albert (I believe--I think I saw it in person, but I can't find a picture, either in my own or the V&A site) has hemmed sleeve flounces. The technique I used for my flounces is illustrated in Costume Close-Up. I used the sleeve flounces in Patterns of Fashion for the shape, but as my silk was extremely thick and stiff (I think it may have been overstock rain coat fabric), I altered it so the lower two flounces were half flounces.

Sleeve Ruffle 1 Sleeve Ruffle 2

First, gather your first sleeve flounce and sew it to the back 2/3 or so of the sleeve. This is your longest sleeve flounce. Next, gather your second flounce and attach right over it. The second flounce should be shorter than the first.

Sleeve Flounce 3 Sleeve Flounce 4

Then gather the bottom of your third ruffle and fit it to the bottom of the sleeve. This one goes around the entire sleeve, forming a cuff. It's the shortest of the three ruffles so the others show. Then, gather near the top, and pull to fit. I would recommend finer gathers than I made here, but I was doing the best I could with the fabric I had. This yellow, while gorgeous, was extremely stiff and difficult to work with. See raincoat comment above!

Sleeve Ruffle 5

Sew the flounce down, and add any trim! Baste your sleeve ruffles inside. My dress could've used slightly larger ones, and I probably will make larger ones if I get another opportunity to wear this dress.


  1. I thought I was going to need a small or maybe a medium, but all they had was extra small and large. I ordered the extra small, terrified that I was going to have to send it right back but it fit perfectly!

  2. So I'm NOT the only one who sneaks in raincoat fabric to period dresses? Woo-hoo!