Gathered Sleeve or Puffed Sleeve?'s All About the Seam Allowances

Monday, November 30, 2009

First...Since many wondered what I'd be making with that luscious striped Japanese knit (shown in a previous post) , you'll see it pictured above, made into the HotPatterns Riviera AnnisetteTop. The Riviera Annisette Top has gathered sleeves, but I chose to alter the sleeve pattern and make long plain sleeves instead. Why? I just felt that there was enough interest in the fabric itself, and didn't want to muddy it up with more details.

Now to begin this discussion of gathered sleeve caps, take a look at the blue top, above. It has gathered sleeves that are very subtle. When you make a top, dress or blouse with sleeve cap gathers, you have a choice to make them "puffed" or simply gathered into soft folds. It's all about the way the sleeve cap seam allowances are pressed.

When the seam allowances are pressed towards the sleeve, you have puffy sleeves like the example to the right.  In my opinion, puffy sleeves are usually better suited to the very young...but to each her own :)

Pressing the seam allowances towards the "body" (neckline) of the garment, results in sleeve cap gathers that lay  "flatter", and present more subtle folds.  It's a small detail, but one that is usually kinder to a mature figure.

Directing the seam allowances of gathers one way or the other can make a difference in other areas of a garment. For instance, pressing the seam allowance of a gathered skirt of a dress "up" towards the bodice will encourage the gathers to lay more flat, in smooth folds. Pressing those same gathers "down" (towards the hem) , will encourage the gathers to puff-up.  It's all about the look you prefer...and now you know you have a choice.
Sewing Notes: Yokes on both of the tops shown interfaced with PRO-SHEER ELEGANCE Fusible Interfacing from