Butterfly sleeve is a beautiful sleeve with a puff on top and slightly loose at the hem. It is basically a puffed sleeve but one that doesn’t taper off like the normal puffed sleeve, nor ends in a cuff. It has a very elegant look and is usually paired with low cut gowns. It is a sleeve which is seen in the national costume of Philippines and made popular by the former first lady Imelda.
The model shown here is wearing a slightly flared butterfly sleeves.
Checkout the tutorial to make 3 types of puff sleeves
Usually people confuse this with angel wing sleeve and this diametrically opposite sleeve is sometimes called as butterfly sleeve. But that is not correct. The butterfly sleeve has a very distinct look.My pattern is not an exact replica of the Filippino sleeve but something which resembles it, which you can adopt for your modern dresses.
Make pattern for a butterfly sleeve
To make this sleeve you will have to make a simple sleeve pattern. Checkout this pattern drafting tutorial to make sleeves. Make a paper pattern of this sleeve and keep this on another paper to alter it into butterfly sleeves.
Above is the simple sleeve you should make.To draft butterfly sleeves, you have to make some simple alterations to this pattern. Add 1/2 inch to 1″ to the fold line at A-C. This is for gathers. You can take more if you want more gathers. Remember that whatever you take wll be doubled when you open up the pattern. Take up the line G – Q by about 3 inches upwards. You can take this upto 6 inches as per your preference.
Square up from T & Q. Mark points U & V such that U is one inches inside from point S & V is 2 inches outside of point F. Join in a slight curve to form the armscye. Move the hem depth of the sleeve from D to H which is squared down from E. This will give you enough room at the hem.
Please note that unlike a Plain sleeve, there is no separate front or back sleeve line in butterfly sleeve. Both the front and back sleeve line look the same.
How to sew the butterfly sleeves
Cut out the pattern from the fabric.You should interface the fabric with a fusible interfacing for the sleeve to have structure
Gather the top edge of the sleeve with 2 lines of basting stitches.
Instead of gathering you can also make pleats along the top edge . stitch in place
Stitch the sleeve to the bodice. Start stitching from the center, aligning the shoulder seam and the center fold line of the sleeve. Stitch to either sides.
The stiff look seen in the costumes of Filipino girls is achieved by adding an inside sleeve cap of double of layer of netting or crinoline. A short cut method is to attach an interfacing tape of 1″ along the sleeve puff area.
To make a sleeve heading that will hold its shape fold crinoline net in half. Place pattern for sleeve on crinoline having sleeve cap on netting, placing small dots on fold. Cut out the sleeve cap. Gather crinoline and sleeve as one to fit armhole and insert as one.
It is your preference that matters and what suits your body shape. Make a butterfly sleeve for an old sleeveless top you have ( Like I did) and see if it suits you or not.