Puff sleeve shirred dress

This summer dress is all about the sleeves.

With its billowing dramatic sleeves and gathered “smocked” bodice, it is reminiscent of historical attire. Whether that be Renaissance or Regency in origin, I am not too sure. According to Mood fabrics, the shape of the sleeve most closely resembles that of a ‘Poet sleeve‘ (see the infographic ). A romantic name that for me conjures up Shakespearean costume, though there is also semblance to pirate costume as well! History aside, these sleeves are so fun, if not terribly practical, to wear.


The dress is not made with a ‘pattern’ per se but rather a 2 shapes that you draft onto fabric using your measurements.

Jess Dang does a great job of guiding you through its creation in her YouTube video, see below for why I chose her tutorial in preference to others. It is constructed from 4 pieces in total. The front is the same as the back and the two sleeves are identical as well.


Winning feature: Unlike other patterns + tutorials out there, this dress has the advantage of not being constructed from rectangles.

The tapering of the front and back pieces allows for a comfortable gap for your arm (armscye).

This means the dress does not cut into your underarm and can have a neckline higher than the base of your underarm.

In addition it has channels that are created for elastic at the shoulder and mid-way down the arm.

The shirring (sewing with elastic thread wound onto the bobbin), gives a smocked effect and provides a gentle gather to the skirt.


Shirred dresses tend to be very speedy to whip up, once you’ve got the hang of shirring. However this dress ended up being quite time consuming to make.

I struggled to keep straight lines when shirring, as my fabric did not mark well with chalk and I was trying to sew quite fast.


I used a polyester crepe fabric from Pound Fabrics. It has more body than other polyester crepes (and I found it a little scratchy) so although it created nice gathers at the sleeves, it puffed out at the waist and was very challenging to narrow hem. Hence all the hems are left with multicoloured overlock.


I love Jess’ video and am keen to try some of her other tutorials. I would definitely recommend it! At some point I would love to make this dress out of a linen fabric.


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