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Balloon sleeves Pattern & Sewing tutorial

Balloon sleeves are full and puffy, ballooning out around the arm before typically gathering into a cuff at the hem. It adds a dramatic flair to your clothes.
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The balloon sleeve is no longer a relic of the past. The exaggerated sleeve movement has brought this type of sleeve to the forefront of fashion. I see a lot of tops and dresses with this bulb-like sleeves. The balloon sleeve is gathered at the shoulder and cuff, creating a puffy, balloon-like effect. The fulness can be adjusted by reducing or increasing the amount of fabric gathered. The bottom edge is gathered into a cuff, which is often fitted and sometimes elasticized.
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In the history of clothing fashion, balloon sleeves always had its pride of place. During Renaissance period this type of sleeve was common on gowns of upper class ladies. Today, this voluminous sleeve can be a bold fashion statement.

It can look good on any of us, depending on the length of the sleeve. For eg. if you have wide upper arms, choose a longer balloon sleeve, rather than one which ends on the thickest part of your arm.
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Here is the method of drafting a pattern for the balloon sleeves. And the best way of sewing it.

Pattern for the Balloon sleeves

Step 1. Draft a normal sleeve pattern with your measurements

Determine the length of the sleeve. Make a normal sleeve pattern according to this. This will be the foundation of your balloon sleeve to which you will add volume.

Learn to draft pattern for sleeve sewing here.

Step 2. 2 ways to add the fullness

Decide on how much extra fullness you want on your sleeve.

Add extra to the middle of the sleeve pattern. Add 5 or more inches extra near the center fold of the sleeve.

When you add the fullness in the middle like this the sleeve will be full at the front of the arm. To sew this balloon sleeve, after cutting out the new pattern after adding the extra at the center, make gathering stitches along the top and bottom edges.
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You should make two parallel stitching lines – make long stitches as you need loose stitches which will be easy to pull. Leave thread tails at both ends for both the stitching lines. Make similar stitching lines on the bottom edge too.
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Gather the sleeves by pulling the thread tails. Gather till you get the new sleeve to a normal sleeve pattern width. Design a cuff, ensuring it’s snug but comfortable. Sew the sleeve hem to the cuff.
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2nd method: Add extra fullness by cutting the pattern into several pieces and distributing it evenly so that the shape of the sleeve is not sacrificed.

Mark different sections of the sleeve as shown in the picture.
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Cut out the sections of the sleeve.
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Glue these pieces onto another pattern paper. The cut out pieces should be arranged in the shape of the sleeve, so that you have extra space in between each of them.
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Now cut out the new shape.
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Another way to get the fullness needed for the balloon sleeve is to cut out the normal sleeve pattern as in the picture below.
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Spread and arrange the pieces so that you leave extra space for fullness.
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Now trace around the new sleeve and cut it out.
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Step 3. Gather the top and bottom edges of the sleeve.

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Gather the bottom edge to a band of fabric.
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Related post: How to cut different types of sleeves; How to make a Puff sleeve; Different exaggerated sleeve styles

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
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