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Mini-TUTORIAL: Gathered or Puffed? It's all about the Seam Allowances!

The Riviera Annisette Top is one of my favorite styles from HotPatterns, and a perfect style to demonstrate how manipulating the shoulder seam allowances can change the look of a garment with a gathered sleeve.  This is a revised post (with some new information) of one I first published here in 2009...for my newer blog followers or those who may have missed it the first time. This is one of Hotpatterns' earlier styles, and it's on Clearance Sale at www.HotPatterns.com   ...but I am not sure how long it will be on sale or even still available. I am not affiliated, just a big fan.

So...about those 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)

When the seam allowances are pressed towards the sleeve, you have puffy sleeves like the example to the right. 

Pressing the seam allowances towards the "body" (neckline) of the garment, results in sleeve cap gathers that lay  "flatter", and present more subtle folds.  It's a small detail, but one that is usually kinder to "women of a certain age."  (smile)

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!

Sewing Notes: Fabric is a light sweater knit bought many years ago. The Yoke is interfaced with PRO-SHEER Elegance LIGHT Fusible Interfacing from  ~FASHION SEWING SUPPLY~

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Blogger Bunny said...

Thanks, Pam. It's great that you expressed that we "do have a choice". As a new sewist, eons ago, I thought the pattern was sacrosanct and if I didn't follow it exactly something horrid would happen. With info from such a credible source as yourself, hopefully it won't take others the years it took me to make different choices. Thanks for that.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

I love this post and am wondering if altering a normal tee sleeve to have those gathers would be a solution to my large biceps?

I never realized how good those gathers could look by pressing the seam allowances towards the body of the garment (I'm older and agree that "puffed' sleeves are an ingenue look that would look silly on me at my age).

I should buy that pattern! Thanks for sharing!

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this information. The pressing the seams up for a skirt tip is one that I do not recall reading about before.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an awesome tip - so simple and I never knew which direction I pressed could make the difference in "puffy" or "flatter"! Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Lynda from Toronto

11:54 AM  
Blogger Coco said...

Great tip!

7:21 AM  

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