Experimenting: Sleeves and a Shirred Top


This is a little experiment I did to see how it might be to add sleeves to a shirred top. I challenged myself after many of you have emailed asking if I made the top up there in the banner. Unfortunately, I didn’t. That is a wonderful shirt I had bought from Anthropologie a while ago. Here are a few more pictures of the top of it up close so you can see the construction of it better.


I wanted to do it a bit different, so I made it so both sides were shirred unlike how the Anthro is only shirred in the front. I also just wanted it come to the same place on the front and back so it would be easier to make.


And might I add, I just adore pants with ruffles on them! I made these for my daughter with some of that fabric I used on My Favorite Top. They are so cute on her and she always gets a ton of compliments when she wears them.


To begin, I cut four pieces out of fabric. Two for the top and two for the sleeves. For the top, I made each piece (1/2 chest measurement x 2) for the width and then choose the length I wanted it to be. I kind of guessed with the sleeves, but you need to make sure that when folded in half, they are tall enough to go over the shoulder bringing the shirt at the place where you want it.


Next, I folded the body pieces in half and used a shirt to cut arm holes on the side. Make sure to do this on the side of the fold that is open. Make sure to remember you need a seam allowance of at least .5″ at the top to fold down. I made sure the shirt wasn’t all the way on the fabric when using it for cut the arms because it isn’t coming up to right below her neck.


Then I made the exact same arm hole cuts on the folded sleeves.


I wanted a fluttery sleeve, so I also trimmed the other side to achieve that look. If I were to do this again, I don’t think I would do it because trying to turn the ends in and hem the edges was a pain.

I took the front and back piece and folded the top down 1/4″ toward the wrong side of the fabric. Iron it.


Then folded it down 1/4″ again, ironed, and sewed across.


I forgot a pic, but then I shirred across the top of each piece.


Then I matched up the sleeves to the top, making sure the right side were facing.


This is what it looked like pinned on both body pieces.


A pic from the other side. See how there is a part of the sleeve that doesn’t touch the body pieces? That is the part that will go over the shoulder. If it’s too short, then the shirt won’t fit. If it’s too long, you can probably fix it later by pulling it down underneath the body piece and sewing in place.


Then I sewed them together.


Then on both sides, I turned in the middle non sewed sleeve part a little bit.


Then I turned it in again and sewed it.


Then I pinned the sides together, right sides facing, and sewed down the sides underneath the arm pit. I also made sure to sew some of sleeve part as well. Just a little bit.


Then I turned the sleeves edges under a bit and ironed……


then I tried to turn it under again to conceal the raw edges, but it was giving me trouble. So I cut more fabric off. I got it to work, but it was still a mess. It’s because of the curve at the top. The straighter the sleeve edge is, the easier it will be to turn under. Now, since I have a serger, I could just serge the edge, but I wanted to just use a regular sewing machine to share this.

Then I hemmed the bottom and that’s it. It was a learning experience for sure :) I’m just glad it came out okay and wasn’t a fail! I encourage you to try things out and experiment. You will grow and learn a lot from it, even if it might not turn out quite right.

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  1. says

    thanks for the tutorial..its so nice..i always want to make a shirred dress for my daughters..i can try it using your tutorial…thanks again..:)

  2. Anonymous says

    Thank you thank you thank you Jessica ! I was ONE of the many that asked for a tutorial. You are a genius !!! Claudia

  3. says

    Hi! Great tute, I’m excited to try it. Thought I’d share a few ideas on making it easier for your hems on your sleeves for next time. When I do curvy sleeves like that it’s easier for me to hem before the sides of the shirt/dress are sewn together…. or you could just cut the sleeve so the outside edge is on the fold so there isn’t a need to hem it on that edge, although I don’t know if that would make it too heavy to effectively “flutter” {;0). Hope that helps some for next time!

  4. Rachel, London UK says

    What a great tutorial! I had been looking for one like it for weeks, so you made my weekend. Can finally make the sort of dress that I wanted to for my little girl. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

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