Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Attention Grabbing Shirt, Tunic, and Dress Sleeves

Sleeves. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They're hard to fit, often motion restricting (because of the aforementioned fitting issue), and sometimes annoying to sew. But goodness, there are some fun things you can do with sleeves. You can make them long, short, puffed, ruffled, embellished, cuffed, flared, or a mixture of all of the above.

There are three basic types of sleeves. Sleeves can be set in (sewn in at the shoulder), raglan (attached at the neckline), or cut-on (cut as one with the body of the garment). All three types of sleeves have their strong suits and drawbacks. Over the past couple years, cut on sleeves have become popular, in both store-bought clothing and sewing patterns. And I can understand why, cut on sleeves, or more specifically, dolman style sleeves, are relatively easy to draft, quicker and easier than any other type of sleeve to sew, and seem to have fewer fit and range of motion issues than either set in or raglan sleeves do. There are some downsides to dolman sleeves, but overall they are easy to make and look nice on certain garments. And sometimes, all you want are easy sleeves.

When I first noticed the dolman sleeve trend, two years ago, I bought a dolman-sleeved T-shirt, and traced it to make myself a dolman pattern. Since then, I've used that pattern multiple times, and had fun embellishing the sleeves, but I've never thought of re-shaping the sleeves. Dolman sleeves are typically one specific shape, and it never occured to me to change that shape, and still keep the easy sleeves. Someone else however, did think of re-shaping dolman sleeves, and that immediately got my attention!

Mother Grimm designed a pattern with flared dolman sleeves, something I hadn't seen before. I'm a sucker for fun sleeves, so, of course, I signed up to test the pattern - The Lammas Tides Top, Tunic, and Dress Pattern

The pattern is for knits, so upon joining the testing group, I immediately dug through my stash of knit fabric to find something suitable. Well, my knits stash has majorly grown over the past few months, so finding something was no problem at all. Narrowing down what fabric I wanted to use was the hard part! Clearly, to use as many pieces of fabric as possible, I would have to make the pattern more than once, for both me and my sister.

The Lammas Tides pattern comes in 4 lengths, top, peplum, tunic, and dress, with 4 different sleeve lengths, short, medium, long, and longest. As soon as I saw the pattern, I wanted to make the dress with the longest sleeves - it's just such a fun, dramatic, combination! However, I also really wanted to use this black and white double brushed polyester jersey from my fabric stash. And this black and white double brushed polyester jersey was actually not a piece of fabric at all, but a thrifted knit maxi skirt.

There would be no getting a long flared sleeve dress out of a single, size small, maxi skirt. Thus, for my first go at the pattern, I used the skirt, and made a short sleeved top.

And I really, really, really like this short sleeved top! I used a sparkly black cotton/spandex jersey (left over from this tank top) for the waist and neckband to make my shirt a little extra special. And I lettuce-hemmed the sleeves (using a zig-zag stitch on my normal sewing machine), something I'd never done before. The lettuce hem was surprisingly easy and added to the fun flared-ness of the sleeves.

My finished top turned out so well, I couldn't wait to make something else from the pattern - something with the longer, flowy, sleeves that initially drew me in - a dress for my sister!

Once again, I cut a waistband and neckband from my leftover black sparkly jersey. This time, I paired it with a starry black and white jersey my mom bought for my sister back at the beginning on the summer.

The dress, with it's flowy sleeves (made from the "longest" version of the sleeve pattern), and pockets (yes, pockets are included in the pattern!) immensely pleased my little sister.

She wore it to class the day after I finished it, which I can only take as a compliment.

Once my sister's dress was done, it was time to make one for myself, out of some fabric I'd been hoarding for months - a cotton/spandex jersey featuring the Marauder's Map from Harry Potter.

As an avid Harry Potter fan, I bought two yards of this fabric when it first appeared at my Joann's this summer. Then I didn't know what to do with it. So in my fabric stash, it has sat all summer long.

Finally, I decided I might as well use it, and a Marauder's Map dress would be a fun thing to have. I pre-washed my fabric, bought some coordinating maroon jersey for the waist and neckbands, then set to cutting out my dress. 

At which point I realized, with the size of the flared sleeves ,(a) if I wanted to center the print on my dress and (b) if I wanted the print to be right side up on my entire dress then 2 yards of fabric just wasn't enough. At this point, I could have found a different fabric to make the flared sleeve dress out of... But no. 

I'd made my Marauder's Map dress plan, and I was sticking to it! Thus, I drove to Joann's, bought another 2 yards of the fabric, came home, and made my dress.

Once my dress was done, I cut out another set of Lammas Tides waist and neckbands from the Marauder's map fabric. I didn't have enough of the fabric left to make my sister a matching dress, or even shirt, but I could make her a coordinating tunic.

I found this maroon rayon/spandex jersey at Hobby Lobby. It was soft, and comfortable, and coordinated perfectly with the MM fabric! Thus, a tunic for my sister it became.

She'd been requesting some new tunics to wear with leggings for fall, so this was perfect!

After having made 3 different V-necks with this pattern, I decided to try out the round necked version. I think I prefer the V-neck, but the round neck version is also cute.

I lettuce-hemmed both the sleeves (the "long" sleeve pattern option) and the skirt for a little extra ruffly fun-ness. My sister was a fan of this decision. Which is good, since she's the one who actually wears the tunic.

And wear it she has done, with both the tunic and the dress!

Personally, I've worn my top and dress plenty as well (though admittedly, I've worn the top more often than the dress, which is rather dramatic). This pattern has been fun to make, wear, and generally experiment with. And now it's got me thinking of all the other ways I could re-shape dolman sleeves.

If the Lammas Tides pattern interests you at all, it can be found here, and is on sale 25% off through the end of today (10/9/18)

*I received this pattern for free in exchange for testing, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. What a lucky sister! Are you teaching her to sew?

    1. Thanks! She's slowly learning to sew, a little bit at a time :)

  2. Tons of fun!! And that style looks well on both of you.