As we’re headed into fall everyone is all excited about cardigans and pumpkin spice, and I’m over here thinking that I just can’t bear the thought of wearing sleeves! So if you’re like me (live in a warm climate, are of a “certain age”, and don’t like sleeves) or you just want a new look for a well-loved pattern, I have a solution for you. Flutter sleeves.
Flutter sleeves give a soft feminine look to any knit top or dress pattern designed to have sleeves. It’s important to use fabric with a good drape or you won’t get that pretty flutter effect. I used Phee Fabrics turquoise circular knit and it is the perfect fabric for this hack. So, let’s get to it!
If your sleeve pattern was meant to be cut on the fold, trace it out to be a full piece. Cut the sleeve length at 3″. Draw vertical lines 2.5 – 3″ from each edge, and every 1.5″ in between. Cut along each of the lines from the sleeve bottom leaving about 1/8″ at the top.
Fan the strips out 1.25″ apart at the bottom, and tape them in place. This can get tricky, so take your time and you can do it!
Lay your waxed paper (or whatever you use to trace your patterns) over the spread out paper and trace it with a marker. This is your new traditional flutter sleeve pattern. You may want to add a 1/2″ seam allowance to each end to account for the folds and crinkles made while fanning out the paper.
While I knew that this would make a pretty flutter sleeve, I wanted something a bit more dramatic and cooler. #becauseflorida, #ofacertainage Anyway, on with more hacking!
I decide to make a cap sleeve length flutter sleeve, so I took my paper pattern piece, folded it in half and made a mark 1.5″ down from the underarm edge of the pattern. I made a second mark 4″ down from the center point of the sleeve. I connected the two marks to get the angled line. I cut along the angled line and opened the paper back up.
Once again I fanned the strips out 1.25″ apart at the bottom and taped them in place. Notice how much the curve at the top of the sleeve has changed? This dramatic curve upward told me that I was going to get the fuller fluttery look I was looking for.
Lay your waxed paper over the paper and prepare to trace. Because the paper was cut on an angle earlier, you will need to round out the bottom edge while you are tracing. If you’re going for maximum airflow and flutter like me, your pattern piece is ready to use. If you want the sleeves to connect and have a seam under the arm, you will need to add 1/2″ seam allowance to both ends. Just substitute your new flutter sleeve for the original pattern sleeve and proceed as per pattern directions.
Follow your pattern directions about sewing the front and back of your shirt or dress together at the shoulder seams. Match the sleeve center notch per pattern directions and pin your flutter sleeve to the sleeve opening right sides together, then stitch. Repeat with the other sleeve. If you added the seam allowance to your flutter you will line up the shirt front and back and stitch the side seam from sleeve edge to armpit and down the sides of your shirt. If you want your flutters to flow free, just sew the front and back side seams together and proceed as per pattern.
Did I mention earlier how much I love Phee’s circular knit? We all know that it’s moisture wicking and anti-microbial. It’s also silky soft, drapes beautifully and is super comfortable! Because of the knitting process used during its manufacture it doesn’t run or fray. This makes it perfect for flutter sleeves because you don’t need to hem and can keep them light and fluttery.
So go make yourself something with flutter sleeves, you can wear it under your cardigan, I promise!