Want something new and fresh to wear, but you don’t want to spend the money? Have no fear! Callie is here! :) For a fraction of the cost of a brand new dress, I’m going to tell you, and show you how you can take a basic from your closet and turn it into a new, fashion forward, (could be) straight from the runway frock.
Just add a Bubble Sleeve!
I should start by saying that it will be to the best of your advantage if you have a basic know-how of sewing. Even if it’s just how to thread a sewing machine, and stitch a line…with that, it’s pretty simple.
Also, I completed this tutorial using a basic ¾ sleeve sweater dress, but if it so pleases you, you could also use a top. A dress may give you a more formal result than a top, but if you’re not a fan of dresses, I advise you to do this using a ¾ sleeve top instead.
—What You’ll Need—
-¼ to 1/2 yard of taffeta fabric ( I advise buying more fabric than you need to stay on the safe side, scraps can always be used for something).
-Basic knit top or dress, preferably with ¾ length sleeves
-¼” wide elastic (about a yard)
-Sewing machine (and basic knowledge of how to use it!)
-Thread (as close to the color of your taffeta)
-Iron and ironing board
-McCalls Pattern #5464 (Make sure you look at the back chart for measurements so you buy the correct size range).
*While doing this, have your directions from the pattern handy for additional information on making an elastic casing, and attaching the sleeve. (Steps #40-47).
Here we go!
Go to the fabric store. This is where you become the designer. Look at the color of your basic, and imagine what color bubble sleeve would complement it best. I went with a lighter blue to complement my navy blue sweater dress. I initially was going to go with black for an edgier feel, but I already had some leftover light blue taffeta and decided to use that up. After seeing the result, I was happy I went with the light blue instead of black.
Grab that McCalls pattern you just bought and find pattern piece #12. This is the lower (bubble) sleeve piece. As you cut it out, leave room around the lines. Don’t cut out the pattern piece on the lines! When cutting out a pattern piece on fabric, it’s much more precise to cut out if it hasn’t already been cut out on the lines…and this way, you won’t end up with any jagged edges.
Find a hard surface with a lot of room and lay out your fabric, so that there are two layers (folded edge toward the bottom). Make sure your grain-line (line on the pattern with an arrow) is parallel to the fabric selvedge. Cut out the pattern piece in your size, making sure you clip the notches (triangles).Step Four:
**REMEMBER! The first rule to sewing is ‘Right Sides Together’, this means when you’re stitching fabric that the right, or correct, sides of the fabric are always sewn together unless stated otherwise.
Separate your two (cut-out) fabric pieces. With right sides together, pin the sides of the sleeve together and stitch.
Use a basting stitch to stitch 2 rows along the upper edge of sleeve (about 1/8 ‘’ apart). Pull the basting stitches to gather the upper edge of sleeve.
I know…elastic?! Don’t get discouraged. It’s really not as tricky as you may think. Simply put, you’re going to ‘hem’ the lower sleeve but are going to leave an opening which creates a casing for your elastic. To make a casing: turn up the raw (ungathered) edge of the sleeve about 1/4 inch, press it with an iron to create a crease. Turn it up a second time just a bit wider than 1/4 inch to allow for stitching. Pin all around. Stitch very close to the fold, leaving an opening for the elastic.(Refer to the directions the came with your pattern for more instruction on how to create the casing).
To measure your elastic, wrap it around your arm where you’d like the sleeve to sit (probably the middle of your forearm) add 1 inch to that length. Pin one end of the elastic to the opening of your casing, or ‘hem’. Pin a safety pin on the other end of the elastic. This is the end you’re going to push through the casing. Push the safety pin through your casing to reach the other end of elastic. Pull the ends to tighten to your desired stretch. Now, pulling the elastic ends away from the fabric, stitch and backstitch them together for additional reinforcement.
Now stitch together the opening of your casing, or ‘hem’. You will likely have to pull the elastic a bit to get it to lay flat on your machine and not have it scrunch up while trying to stitch.
It should look like this:
Now, find your basic. Since mine was a sweater dress, I cut off the ribbed ends of the sleeves to allow more give when I stitched on the bubble sleeve. (You probably don’t need to do this if you’re using any other knit, like a jersey). With right sides together, pin the gathered edge of your sleeve to the sleeve edge of your basic. See picture below for how it should look.
Stitch the lower bubble sleeves to the sleeves of your basic. I recommend stitching 2 or 3 times over for additional reinforcement. Trim your seam allowance.
Turn the bubble sleeves right side out, and you have yourself a new dress!! :)
Now this sweater dress is runway ready. Who would’ve thought you could turn a basic sweater dress into something way more exciting, fashionable, stylish, annnnd glamourous??
Now you can too! Let me know if you try it!! :)