Mini-TUTORIAL: Gathered or Puffed? It's all about the Seam Allowances!
Take a close look at the blue top, above. It has gathered sleeve caps that are subtle. When you make a top, dress or blouse with sleeve cap gathers, you have a choice to make them "puffed" or simply gathered into soft folds. It's all about what direction the sleeve cap seam allowances are pressed. (more detailed close-up photos follow)
Directing the seam allowances of gathers one way or the other can make a difference in other areas of a garment, as well. For instance, pressing the seam allowance of a gathered skirt of a dress "up" towards the bodice will encourage the gathers to lay more flat, in smooth folds. Pressing those same gathers "down" (towards the hem) will encourage them to puff-up. The same applies with sleeves gathers at the cuff....pressing the gathered edge towards the cuff will result in a smoother look, while pressing them "up" towards the sleeve will give the gathers a more pronounced puffy look. It's all about what you want and prefer. So remember...despite what the pattern directions say, you do have a choice!