How to Draft Sleeve Flounces

arm flounces

For my Mad Men inspired dress, I simply had to have flounces on the sleeves, which I drafted myself and added to a commercial pattern. I’ve written a tutorial so you can do the same!

You need:
Paper on which to make the pattern
Pen or pencil
Compass (if you don’t have a compass, a piece of string and a pin can substitute)

The full sleeve flounces you see above are a complete circle of fabric. Start by figuring out how wide you need the circle to be at the point you sew it onto your sleeve. To do this, measure the circumference of your sleeve, making sure you take your measurements 5/8″ up from the edge of the fabric as you will use a 5/8″ seam allowance.

How to draft flounceNow, the mathematical bit. It’s really quite easy, so don’t be nervous. You will use  a compass to draw the circles, setting the size of the compass opening as the size of the radius. Oh, you didn’t save your compass from high school math? That’s ok. Take a piece of string and push a pin into the center of your paper, tacking down one end of the string. Measure your radii on the string from the center pinned point out. Hold your pen/pencil at that measured point and rotate it around the pinned center.

Ok, onto, the drafting:
1. Draw a circle that is the same size as the circumference of your sleeve. Remember, circumference is 2*pi*radius. So, the radius you will use to draw the circle = circumference / (2*pi). This is your inner stitch line.

2. Subtract 5/8″ from the radius you used in 1 and draw another circle. This is your inner cut line.

3. Add the length of the finished flounce you want (for reference, mine are 4″) to the radius you used in 1 and draw another circle. This is your outer stitch line.

4. Add 5/8″ to the radius you used in 3 and draw another circle. This is your outer cut line.

flounce paper pattern

You’re done drafting. Now onto the sewing. Cut 4 pieces of fabric from your drafted circle. You will cut along lines 2 and 4. You can cut all four from the same fabric or cut 2 of fashion fabric and 2 of contrast (as I did).

To sew a flounce, sew fabric and contrast right sides together, along the outer stitch line. Trim your seam allowance down (using pinking shears if fabric is prone to raveling, or serge off). Turn right sides out.

flounce ready to sew

Stitch a line of stay stitching just inside of the 5/8″ inner seam allowance. Snip in the seam allowance until just inside of the stay stitch (so that you can ease the curved seam).

sewing on flounceTo sew onto sleeve, place flounce on sleeve with sleeve right side against main flounce fabric. (If you aren’t using a contrast fabric it doesn’t matter which side of the flounce is touching the right side of the sleeve). Sew slowly and carefully just outside the stay stitch line. Pink or serge your seam allowance and you’re done!

Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to clarify.

Also, check out my tutorial for drafting sleeve facings to hide your seam once you’ve added the flounce for an even more polished finish.


Comments 3

  1. I love your website! Love your energy! I want to add a flounce…not a gathered ruffle to the hem of a dress I am making for my daughter. She has larger hips…smaller bust line and works at a library while getting her Master’s degree and I want to help her with her wardrobe but I don’t want it to look homemade. There’s nothing wrong with homemade but I don’t want it to look too homemade. You know what I mean.

    1. Post

      Thanks so much! I totally understand what you mean. A flounce would look great at the hem of a dress and would be an elegant way to balance out a pear shape. Hope your daughter loves the dress!

  2. Hi, I just wanted to say that tour blog and tutorials are a-ma-zing! Your instructions are so clear and nicely given, thank you.

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