Upcycled Birthday Princess Dress, Part VIII: Paned Sleeves

To add to the “princess” look of this dress I wanted to do paned sleeves– you may know them as “Snow White sleeves”– where a contrasting-colored lining peeks through slashes in the outer sleeve. However, since I didn’t want to make two separate layers I decided to simply insert strips of white satin into the main purple sleeve, pleating the purple fabric so it looked like the white was a separate inner sleeve. For the technique I relied heavily on this tutorial, which is awesome.

For my basic sleeve pattern I wasn’t confident enough to draft my own– I really didn’t feel like measuring and guessing about the best curved shape, so I raided the $1 pattern bin at my local store and picked out a girls’ pattern that had puffed sleeves to use. I cut the sleeves out, then cut each one into four pieces and inserted 2.5″ wide strips of white satin between them, ironing the 1/4″ seam allowances towards the purple fabric .


I topstitched a narrow zigzag along the seam edges in silver thread for a little sparkle. The topstitching also helped to really sell the illusion of double layers.


I stitched down inverted pleats to bring the purple sleeve back to its original size (minus the 1″ total seam allowance for the insertion seams), letting the white fabric just peek through. Since the sleeve was originally gathered at the top and bottom, the 1″ reduction in width left it plenty big enough– too big, actually, I had to do some surreptitious gathering under the arm to get it to fit.

After inserting the sleeves I’d intended to continue the side-lacing inverted pleat up the bodice and along the sleeve as well, but it just looked weird with the gathering, so I just finished off the pleat on the bodice only by stitching a long fold up each right next to the lacing loops. This will encourage smooth folding of the extra fabric when the bodice is laced up.


Finally, I cut two strips of fabric to make the sleeve cuffs and gathered the bottom edge of each sleeve to a cuff, right sides together. Before folding the cuff up and stitching it down on the inside I stitched in a short section of elastic on the underarm side, to let the cuff expand up to an inch around the upper arm if necessary.


I actually had a lot of trouble with the cuffs, mostly trying to estimate how much space I’d need to allow for the elastic while keeping the cuff snug against the arm. I needed it snug because otherwise the sleeve wouldn’t “puff” much due to the lack of gathering on most of it– I didn’t want to gather the paned sections because they looked much better sewn flat, and they took up most of the sleeve. You can see here that the sleeves look rather deflated– not puffy at all when hanging on the dress form. However, the elastic cuffs are just snug enough that I can place them higher up on the arm, creating the puffed effect when worn.

Anyway, the sleeves are really the last complicated part of this dress! All I need to do now is attach the rose embellishments and perhaps think of something to do with the neckline! Very excited!

2 thoughts on “Upcycled Birthday Princess Dress, Part VIII: Paned Sleeves

  1. Pingback: Page not found | It's All Frosting...

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