Saturday 7 March 2020

How To: Easy Square Neck Puff Sleeve Top

I was inspired by the MIY March Sustainability theme to attack my small scraps box. This is the box where I put leftover fabric that's either a very small piece, or an awkward shape, with hopes of creative ideas for it. I usually use the pieces for pockets, linings, etc. but with this fabric, I really wanted to squeeze a top out of it, since it was leftover from a skirt. And we know how I feel about a matching set 🥰

I'm not 100% sure this is finished yet, I might still do shirring on the whole bodice.. This is also a great example of what a difference the fabric makes in puff sleeves - Although the size I cut the sleeves is pretty much the same as in this dress, and also this top, the look is much more relaxed and less voluminous in this light cotton.

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Fabric, 1 m (I used 100% cotton)  |  Pins  Elastic  |  Scissors  |  Thread & Sewing machine

I. This was what I had - one long piece, and two smaller, almost rectangular pieces. So I immediately figured the long piece would need to be full puff sleeves, and I'd need to find a way to make the two smaller pieces last to make the bodice of the top.
So here were my top pieces - I had to make the other one with a seam horizontally across, but you can hardly notice with the print. I'm a EU36/US4 and you can see from the pics the fit is a bit loose.
II. Then I cut the sleeve pieces (2) which ended up with these measurements:
.. I used the top to trace the curve of the sleeve in the corner:
.. And replicated it on the other corner. Did that for the other sleeve piece as well.
III. Next I took the top pieces and folded and approx. 1.5 cm down from the neckline..
.. Adding two stitches across - one 0.5 cm from the fold, and another so there was just enough space in between for my elastic. I inserted the elastic (cut just a couple cm shorter than the neckline length), secured it at both ends with a few stitches, and topstitched over it to avoid twisting (stretching the length of the neckline out when topstiching over the elastic).
IV. Then did the side seams of the top. I also overlocked the sleeve curves (zig-zag works too).
V. Sleeve time. Here's how they would get attached. The distance marked with the line is where I needed to add my casing for the elastic.
I first overlocked the edges (zigzag if you don't have a serger) and then did an about 2 cm fold - which I transitioned into a 1 cm fold along the bit remaining that will be attached to the underarm curve (just to mark my seam allowance there. Similar to the neckline, I stitched about 0.7 cm from the fold first, and then left a gap just wide enough for the elastic, before the next stitch. I prefer this technique when adding elastic to an edge of a garment, I find it ends up looking more crisp than when you have the elastic right at the fold.
Then I sewed the underarm seams of the sleeves:
VI. Pinned the sleeves along the arm curves on the top, right sides facing, and sewed in place:
Next I put on the top to see how long of an elastic I needed - just pinched the sleeve at the top, pinned that spot and then measured the length, and cut my elastic.
VII. Using a small safety pin I inserted the elastic (I like to pull it through enough for the end with no safety pin to hit the start of the casing, sew that end in place, and then pull the elastic all the way through. This way I make sure I never lose my elastic inside and need to start over. Once I get to the end, I secure the end of the elastic there with a few back and forth stitches.)
VIII. Almost last bit was to repeat the same process on the sleeve hem. First folded 2 cm, added first stitch all around, 0.7 cm from the edge, and then another, making sure to leave a gap to insert the elastic from.
.. And added the elastic (measured to comfortably fit around my arm), sewed its ends together, and closed the gap in the second stitch. It's a bit tricky to see with the print, but I also sewed the part where the sleeve meets the neckline flat by folding the seam allowance towards the center, to create the square neck look.
Then just needed to hem the top itself with a double fold. Scrap has a life!



  1. Love this top, gonna try and have a go of it. I'm a bit anxious as I always follow a pattern, but, I know I can do this, what's the worst that could happen?!

    1. Hi there! I'm sorry about that, my hosting provider has croaked on me & I'm in the process of moving to a new one. I hope to get it done today!

  2. Can you wear this off shoulder?

  3. Yep, why not! Just need to make the elastic at the top of the sleeve firm enough:)

  4. When calculating the measurements for the bodice top and the sleeves, what was the formula that you used?

    1. My methods aren't scientific enough to have formulas most of the time:) Just based on experience and other pieces I've sewn in the past.

  5. so gonna try this out......lovely top though

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