Showing posts with label red ruffles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label red ruffles. Show all posts

Friday, 2 December 2011

How to make ruffled (rose) sleeves

Ok ladies, and gentlemen it's time to get our sewing on! I posted my A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose dress with the feature of the dress being these sleeves that resemble ... can you guess? Roses. I thought I would take this opportunity to show you just how to make these sweet sleeves yourselves. Heck, why stop at sleeves? The possibilities are endless! An embellished skirt, bodice, elbows ... what ever tickles your fancy. Let's 3D the hell out of our new outfits!

Bear with me lovely people as this is my first tutorial, so be nice! Scroll down for the  detailed videos after reading the instructions.


  • Two cut out sleeve pieces - what ever style will best suit your dress! Cap sleeves, long sleeves short sleeves.
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Fabric - you'll want to use a fabric that looks good on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric as both will be visible on your sleeves. Depending on what look you are after, it's better to use firmer fabrics such as cottons, dupion, taffeta, organza; fabrics that have a bit of body to them. Softer fabrics like chiffon and georgette would flop. Mind you, that could create an interesting effect ... ok.. focus.
Cutting the fabric

To make the ruffles we need to cut the fabric into long strips. These strips will be gathered and attached to our sleeves.

You'll notice on my sleeves that the edges of the ruffles are raw. It gives it that textured look which goes with the wildness of the ruffles. You'll notice though, that the edges aren't fraying all over the place and it's all got to do with how I cut the fabric.

There is one very important step to take when cutting your fabric in preparation for the ruffles, and that's to cut it on the bias. If you cut the fabric on the straight grain, it'll start fraying continuously until it resembles a hula skirt - and not in a good way.

I've shown a photo of silk dupion below, as the grain line in this fabric is the most visible. The black arrow shows the direction of the grain line. The red arrow shows the direction that you want to be cutting the fabric (the bias).

Look at the difference in the fabric edge cut on the straight grain and fabric edge cut on the bias. The fabric threads on the bias edge have got no where to go, they're packed in and contained. The straight grain look like they're having an identity crisis and trying to resemble spaghetti. Not a good look.

Cut the material into long strips on the bias. You can make them any width you like. The wider the strips, the fuller (and wider) your look will be. I chose to cut my strips 6 cm's wide. The actual width of each strip once attached to your sleeve will be half the width of the strip as we will be folding these strips in half. Therefore the ruffles on my sleeve  are actually 3 cm's wide. So keep that in mind for your cutting. If you want the ruffles to stick out 10 cm's, your strips are going to need to be 20 cm's wide. Got it?! As for the length of your sleeves there is no rule, you just need more of them if they're short so the longer the better.

All right! Once we've got our cut out strips, we are ready to prepare them for ruffling. The ruffles are created by pulling on a gathering stitch so our next step is .. yes you guessed it, a gathering stitch!
We want to create two rows of gathering stitches 1/4 inch on either side of the centre of our strips and sewn straight down the length of each strip of fabric. A gathering stitch is made using a large size stitch on your sewing machine. On my Janome I set the length of the stitch to 4 and reduce the tension of the thread to 3 to make it easier to 'gather-up' the stitches.

To define the centre of each strip of fabric, fold the strip in half all the way down the length of the strip and lightly press with an iron. This will mark the centre of the strip. Sew a loose stitch parallel to the centre mark 1/4 inch away on either side. Make sure you leave thread tails on either end to make it easier to gather up the stitches.

Once you have made two gathering stitches down the length of the strips, pull on the bobbin thread tails to gather up the fabric. Don't worry about making the gathers even. That's the beauty of this technique, is that the more irregularities the better! I gathered mine so that they were tighter in some spots and looser in others. You don't want to over gather your strips either, or you're going to run out of fabric real fast! 

The sleeve pieces

Now it's time to cut out and prepare our sleeve pieces. This is what we will be attaching the ruffles to.

Hem your sleeves before you attach the ruffles.  I've used black thread for so that my stitching lines are obvious.

Next, using chalk or one of those fancy pens that comes off with water, mark your seam allowance along the raw edges of your sleeve. My seam allowance is 1.5cm all the way around. We want to make sure when attaching our ruffles that we don't attach them within the seam allowance.

Now let's make us some roses! Watch the video to watch how I attach the make and attach the ruffles.

Video - Part 1

Video - Part 2

Hope you found this post helpful and good luck with your rose sleeves/embellishments!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose - Vogue 1230

Yeah sure, roses are pretty; they smell good and they make for good perfume. But after making this dress, my favourite rose ... is made out of cotton. Cotton with a shiny lame blend to be precise.

I bought this shiny smack-you-in-the-face red while honeymooning in Hawaii (along with a good many other fabrics!) and the moment I saw it I started fantasising about it's possibilities in dress form. Even though I was sitting on beaches with the love of my life, lathered in inappropriate amounts of sunscreen (my skin aint getting any younger!) with Janome safely far away at home in Melbourne, Australia ... I could not switch my sewing brain off. In fact, relaxing on the sand sipping mojitos and making sandcastles (it's a hard life) actually increased my drive for creativity. What idea started forming in my mind as I stared at this shiny red cotton fabric? Roses. Of course. I must be a marketers dream, I have such mainstream associations. I knew I wanted to make a dress for my good friends wedding coming up early December, and thought that a cute cocktail dress with this fabric should fit the bill perfectly. So I started going through the catalogue in my mind of what I wanted the dress to look like and I knew I wanted to make the bodice using a pattern I'd played with before, Vogue 1230.

Looks a bit different huh! Especially in the lilac colour. I'd used the bodice before on my red lace Michelle my belle dress and I loved the flattering pleats on the bodice and the round neck line on the front and the back of the bodice. It's also a more conservative neckline and gives a more 'church' cleavage, versus the 'hello I'm female' neckline, which I have to admit, I'm a tad partial to. (Guilty!) So the only part of this pattern that I used is the bodice and I made my own sleeves (clearly) and skirt. I cut the bodice 1.5cm below the waist point on the pattern, which added the seam allowance and then joined it to my skirt that I'd made with my own pattern, which meant that I now how a waist seam.

What's nice about the neckline with the pleats is it gives a really pretty shape, but doesn't take away from the feature which is the sleeves. I didn't want to make the dress too busy.

You know, every day my brain starts thinking overtime of new design ideas and ways to chop and change a pattern. I'm constantly thinking of how I can make something look classic, but with a twist. The thing about trying out new things, is that most of it is in your head and until you try it you don't know if it's going to work or not. A LOT of things that I've translated from my brain onto fabric ends up being a massive fail. I have sad, sad piles of UFO's (un finished objects) lying (squashed unceremoniously) dejectedly in my over crowded closet. That's why it's so nice when an idea you have cooking in your brain actually WORKS!

I have to admit it readers, I am in LOVE with how this turned out! I'd been working on (speaking of sewing fails) a skirt made up in white silk dupion with the same concept as the sleeves but on a massive scale, and as beautiful as it looked on Diana my maniquin, it sadly made me look like an over fed chicken. I haven't given up on it yet, I will do something with it I swear! I was soooo disappointed when the skirt didn't turn out, and I couldn't get it off my mind. So I had the ah-ha moment when I had the idea of using this look not on the skirt but on the sleeves, to make it look sort of like roses! Oh boy that got me excited. I'm sure somewhere far away in my sewing room, my Janome started flashing on and off repeatedly in anticipation. Bless. Here's a photo of the chicken skirt if you're curious  - don't laugh!

You see, there's always something to learn from every sewing experience, so I'm glad I put all the effort into this half finished skirt. Though it took many hours and over seven metres of silk dupion, and I'm not going to even tell you how much that cost me cause it makes me break out into a sweat just thinking about it.

Let's move on.

I made the same adjustments with the bodice of this dress as I did with the other version. I shortened the bodice by a few cm's  - my usual as I'm short bodiced, and because I have a smaller back, I removed area from the shoulder blades area by creating a small dart on the back pattern pieces. My Doctor husband tells me that bone at the shoulder blades is called the 'Scapula(e).' I told my husband I'm pretty sure the correct medical term is 'chicken wings.' The jury is still out on who is correct ...

The result of removing that area gives the back neck more of a slightly squarer result, but I still think it looks good and at least this way my sleeves won't keep sliding down my shoulders.

I used an invisible zipper to close the dress, and fully lined the bodice and skirt, but not the sleeves. I also added a line of red lace to the lining hem, which is becoming a bit of standard for all my dresses at the moment.

Now for my favourite part the sleeves! I cut out two sleeves and gathered them at the top so that they would fit the arm hole perfectly. I added rows of raw edged fabric to give it a bit of a rough-ish look. I cut it on the bias though to stop it from fraying.

I'm really into textured 3D looks at the moment, and I really think this sleeve effect looks like a whole bunch of roses, especially in this striking red.

Each sleeve has about a 1/4 of a metre sewn onto it, bringing the sleeve to life. I love how when I lay the dress down, it looks like there are invisible arms inside, the sleeves stay up! It's alliiiiivve!

Interested in making these rose sleeves yourself? Keep an eye on my blog, in the next few weeks I'll be putting up a tutorial showing how I made them. Guess what - it involves no hand stitching! Seriously!

In conclusion, I'm so happy with how the dress turned out and I'm looking forward to wearing it to my good friends wedding. Looks like it's colour appropriate for Christmas functions this year too! Yay!