How to Make a Set-In Sleeve Into a Puff Sleeve

Written by rebecca mckeown
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How to Make a Set-In Sleeve Into a Puff Sleeve
Puff sleeves add a fun and girlie style to any shirt. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Puff sleeves add a pretty, girlie touch to any short-sleeved shirt. These sleeves, which are tight at the bottom and puffy around the upper arm and shoulder, are a flattering look that is in touch with today's fashion.

People who wish to incorporate the style into their wardrobes without spending money can add this princess-style touch to shirts they already own by turning regular set-in sleeves into puff sleeves.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Shirt
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Matching fabric
  • Elastic
  • Dressmaker's pins
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Safety pin

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  1. 1

    Choose the shirt you want to have puff sleeves. A shirt with looser fitting sleeves will have more of a puff effect. If the sleeves are long, cut them off an inch below where you want them to fall on your arm.

  2. 2

    Use the seam ripper to detach the sleeves from the shirt. Cut out two strips of fabric that are as long as the circumference of your sleeve, plus a few extra inches. The wider you make the strip, the puffier your sleeves will be.

  3. 3

    Use the seam ripper to take out the sleeve's underarm seam so it lays flat. Pin the strips to the cut edges of the sleeves right sides together and sew. This strip adds extra width to your sleeve to make it puffy. Repeat with the other sleeve.

  4. 4

    Turn the shirt inside out and pin the sleeves into the armholes, right sides together. First pin the middle of the sleeve to the shirt's shoulder seam and then pin the ends of the sleeves to where the shirt's side seam is located. You will have extra fabric between the pins; pleat the fabric to make the sleeve fit into the hole and sew. Repeat with the other sleeve.

  5. 5

    Wrap the elastic around your arm where the sleeve will fall. Wrap it tightly, but make sure it's still comfortable and won't cut off your circulation. Cut the elastic a little bit longer than your measurement to ensure seam allowance. Cut another piece that is the same length.

  6. 6

    Turn the shirt inside out. Fold up the edge of the sleeve 1/2 inch. If you are adjusting the length of your sleeve, you need to fold the fabric 1/2 inch, and then another 1/2 inch so that no cut fabric edges are exposed. Pin the fold in place all the way around the sleeve. Repeat for the other sleeve. Sew the fold in place, leaving a pocket on the sleeve to slip the elastic through.

  7. 7

    Attach a safety pin to the end of one elastic piece. Feed the pinned end of the elastic through the pocket in one of the sleeve's hems. When both ends of the elastic meet in the hole, unpin them and sew them together.

    Sew sleeve's underarm seam. Repeat for the other sleeve. Your shirt's sleeves should now be puffy and ready to wear.

Tips and warnings

  • Needles can break when sewing through thick fabric. Please sew carefully and pay attention if you're using a sewing machine.

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