Saturday, November 17, 2012

Renfrew Ruched Sleeve Tutorial – Part 1

A few of you have asked how I drafted the sleeves of the Pyjama Dress and I said I would make a tutorial. This type of dramatic ruched sleeve is achieved by adding pleats around the armhole, a square sleeve and, if desired, an elastic on the inside.

Note: I use Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top as a base in this tutorial, but you don't need it, because I also show you how to draft the pattern using your body measurements. You can still join us if you don't have the pattern!

This pattern allows you to make three types of sleeves with varying degrees of "puffball". View A, the sleeves of the Pyjama Dress, has a very even ruching. View B, is slightly more voluminous, which you can check out here. View C, the sleeves of the Cranberry Bliss, will give you that puffball effect.

Principle behind the ruched sleeve

A ruched sleeve is essentially about adding extra fabric to the top part of the sleeve. The simplest way to go about it to slice the top part of your sleeve and add extra fabric.
This store-bought shirt bellow appears to have been made according to this method. (I've worn this shirt too many times this year! The fabric has piled!)

But I wanted a sleeve with a bit more volume -- not only in the length of the sleeve, but also in the width of the upper part, for more of a "square" look, so the pattern you will make today will look a little different than the above.


Before we start drafting, we need to get our measurements.

Take your three quarter sleeve from your Renfrew pattern (pattern piece 6) and measure the narrowest horizontal part at the bottom of the pattern, according to your size. Alternatively, measure around the biggest part of your forearm (bellow your elbow) and add 1.5 inches. (In my case, for size 4, the value is 10.5 in. Measuring around my forearm, I get 9 + 1.5 = 10.5 in.) This is your value Y
Now measure the largest horizontal part at the top of the Renfrew sleeve pattern. Add one inch to that last measurement. Alternatively, measure around the biggest part of your upper arm (above elbow) and add 1.5 inch. (In my case, the value is 11, so 11 + 1.5 = 12.5 in.). This is your value Z.

Next, take your drafting paper and give it a quick iron on high heat to make it nice and flat. Don’t forget to turn off the steam! (You can do this with any wrinkled paper pattern as well.)


  • Draft a 23 in line in the middle of your paper (A to B).
  • Perpendicular to that line, on one end, draft a line with the length of value Y (points C to D), making sure that A-C = A-D.
  • On the other end, also perpendicular, draft a line equal to value Z (points E and F),  making sure that B-E = B-F.
  • With a ruler, join C to E, and D to F.
  • The next steps are shown in red and blue on diagram.
  • Measure two inches left of B and mark with G.
  • Now here comes the confusing bit:
    Where you place points H an I, will determine how much of a "puffball effect" you want. (This is what I was trying to demonstrate with the blue and red options on the diagram.) For zero puffball and an evenly gathered look (View A, the pyjama dress) measure 3 inches bellow E and 3 inches above F and mark with H and I respectively. For a very slight puffball (view B, the orange shirt I just made which I look forward to showcase fully shortly, not shown on pattern diagram here), measure 2 inches from E and F in the same way. Finally, for a total puff sleeve, '80s-princess-gown style is what you are after (view C, the cranberry bliss shirt) measure 1 inch from points E and F respectively.
    Essentially, the further away points H and I are from point B, the more of a puffball effect you are going to get. Does that make sense?
  • Join G-H and G-I using ruler.
  • Measure 8 inches left of point E and mark point J. Measure 8 inches left of point F and mark point K.
  • Draw a curved line to join J-H and K-F, mimicking the diagram.
  • Congratulations! You've just finished drafting your ruched sleeve pattern.
This pattern is intended for stretch fabric!
If your jersey-knit is medium to thick in weight, you will need to add a thin elastic on the inside -- as I’ve done with both the Pyjama Dress and the Cranberry Bliss. For extra fine jersey with a lot of drape, you can chose whether you want to put the elastic of not. I omitted it for the orange shirt in view B.

Cut your fabric pieces according to pattern instructions, replacing the original sleeve with the ones you've just drafted!

That's it for today, everyone! I will show you how to assemble your sleeves on Tuesday.

In the mean time, please feel free to post any question or comment bellow, and I will do my best-est best to answer as soon as possible.

PART 2 of the tutorial continues here, where I go through the steps of assembly!

1 comment:

  1. Wow - this is great! I discovered your blog through looking at links for the Cami Dress - and this is amazing - I need shoulder emphasis :)
    Thanks so much!


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