DIY Ruffle Sleeve Top

This super simple ruffle sleeve top is sure to be a new favorite and is totally on trend!  Check out the full tutorial…

I haven’t done too much sewing for myself in the last year or so; pregnancy and birth makes for an ever changing body that’s tricky to fit!

But I’m SO glad I started again and gave this top a try because it is currently my very favorite shirt out of my whole closet. It skims over my belly bulge without being too boxy, it’s got a cute sleeve detail and anything black and white striped is just classic.  I was inspired by a similar top from J. Crew a few months ago and I can’t imagine I’d love the original any more than this one!

It’s super duper easy to recreate, I just encourage you to find the best quality knit fabric you can find.  A sturdy knit (like a cotton/spandex blend) will make all the difference in drape and durability.  I’ve also included a link to an illustration with cutting instructions and all the measurements I used; my shirt fits like a size medium/large.

Ready? Let’s get making!

Supplies:

1-1.5 yards high quality stretch knit
Coordinating thread
Get the illustration with all my measurements here

1. Grab a T-shirt with a great fit to use as a template.  Fold your fabric in half (with the stretch running perpendicular to the fold) and your ready-to-wear (RTW) tee in half lengthwise (from neckline to hem). Lay your RTW tee on your fabric, with folds aligned, and cut out your front bodice by following the lines of your tee.  Be sure to leave a seam allowance  along the shoulder, armhole and side seams (I usually eyeball about 1/2″) and a hem allowance along the bottom (about 1″).

2. Do the same thing for your back bodice and sleeves.  Be sure that the stretch of your fabric is running around the circumference of your sleeve (from underarm seam to fold).  Cut out 2 sleeve ruffles measuring 35″ x 5″ (the direction of stretch doesn’t matter on the ruffles). Be sure to save a long scrap for your neckband!

3.  With right sides together (RST), sew your front to back along shoulder seams and side seams.  Finishing the seam (with a zig zag or serger) is optional with knit fabrics.

4. Sew your first sleeve into a tube by folding it in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the straight edge. Repeat with the second sleeve.

5. Create your ruffles by first sewing the strips into tubes: fold them in half widthwise RST and stitch along the short ends.  Next, gather them along one opening: I like to sew a basting stitch about 1/4″ away from the raw edge, then another basting stitch about 1/4″ from the first line of stitching.  Pull the bobbin thread taut from each line of stitching while pulling the fabric into gathers.

6. With sleeve RIGHT side out and ruffle WRONG side out, slip the bottom of the ruffle over the bottom edge of the sleeve.  Match up gathered edge of ruffle to bottom edge of sleeve and pin, adjusting gathers to fit.  Stitch in place; remove any basting stitch that shows on the right side, if necessary.

7. With bodice WRONG side out and sleeve RIGHT side out, insert bottom of sleeve into bodice armhole until top of sleeve and bodice armhole are flush; pin raw edges together, matching seams and stretching to fit, if necessary.

8. For the neckline: measure around the opening of your neckline and subtract 2″ (give or take 1-2″ depending on the stretchiness of your fabric. This is kind of a trial and error thing!). Cut out a neckband measuring this number x 2″. For example, if your neckline measures 21″, then your neckband would need to be 19″ x 2″.  Stitch neckband into a tube by sewing together along short sides, RST. Fold tube in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and press.

9. Pin neckband to neckline RST by matching raw edges, with neckband seam in center of bodice back, and by inserting pins evenly in 4 places: at shoulder seams and at center front and center back. BASTE neckband to bodice, stretching to fit.  At this point, try on your shirt to determine if the neckband is the proper length.  It should lie flat without any puckering or flopping over.  If so, you’re ready to stitch it on securely, if not, take the band off and either cut it slightly shorter or cut a new longer one!

10.  Once you’ve stitched neckband in place, finish the seam with a zig zag stitch or serger.  Press seam allowance towards bodice, then topstitch close to seam on bodice side using a double needle.  It’s very important that you NOT stretch the fabric while topstitching so that the neckline doesn’t end up wavy and stretched out.

11.  Hem sleeves and bottom of shirt by topstitching with a double needle.

And you’re done!  Try it on and admire your handiwork…doesn’t it look amazing??

Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle

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