{Sew the Trend} Bell Sleeves

Hey, hey, party people! How are you on this fine Tuesday night? I'm taking a break from sanitizing the whole home of 5 and almost-4 year old's germs, and dedicating the next 30 minutes to maintaining a written record of my sewing projects.

My most recent project is the new bell sleeve blouse from Megan Nielsen, the Dove. View 1 is a super wearable shirt - great for casual wear in fabrics like flannel or chambray, or office attire in lawn, voile, or rayon challis. Views 2 and 3 have a little extra drama in flared sleeves that make great statement pieces - perfect for my "I never wear dresses, but I'd like to feel extra dressed up for Easter" sewing purposes. 

Ya'll took a vote on this stripe shirting or the swiss dot. Swiss dot won, so the shirting became my muslin:

I did my usual pre-muslin adjustments, grading from an XS a the shoulder/bust to a S at the hem. (Bless you, MN, for a size range that lets me believe I'm still an XS!) I also browsed instagram first for other Dove creations, and determined that my petite-ness and aesthetic preference required I take 1 full inch off the length of the cuff. (You can see I made that adjustment in the photo above.)

Here's what I wound up with:

It's a solid starting point, but I've got some work ahead! There are some fit issues to address. Let's start from the top!

I have horizontal lines across the upper bust. In my (petite) case, horizontal lines almost always mean I have excess length. I usually take length out of the upper bust during my pre-muslin process, but didn't this time because I'm new to french darts and wanted a chance to see how they'd shape the garment without fiddling with it first. So I had this coming.

That said - I can't take length away from the upper bust without adding it back at the waist. Any shorter on the sides and you'll see skin. Not what I expected from a designer who drafts for taller women (5'9); but then my chronic addiction to low-rise pants probably plays into that, too.

So how will I do that, without changing the fit of the sleeve? Something like this:

Or, If you want to avoid redrawing the armscye, you can make a diagonal cut like this. As you can see below, the end result is essentially the same. **Remember! Any length adjustment you make to the front bodice you should also make to the back bodice!**

With the upper bust wrinkles taken care of, there's bicep wrinkling to address. Now.. I love where the sleeves end! I took a full inch off the length of the belled cuffs, and the hem hits right where I want them to. But.. the seam hits just below my elbow and causes the upper sleeve to wrinkle when I bend my arm. I think if I split the difference next time, I'll end up with the same length and less wrinkling.

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Lastly... I hate shirting. It need not apply in my apparel projects anymore. I don't iron enough for it to be a practical addition to my wardrobe, and all the starch I needed to keep it looking crisp in photos (fail!) made it fit a lot like a whole shirt made from paper. I don't need an alternative with more drape, I just need easier "wearability." I'll reach for the poplin or chambray next time.


Anyhow, I hope the visuals were helpful! Sometimes I forget that pattern alteration and custom fitting is a foreign concept to new sewists. Good fit is attainable - where could your clothes use a little nip and tuck?