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    Rivington Sleeve Hack

    I don’t know about you but my feed has been FULL of amazing puff sleeves, and I’ve been envisioning a Rivington tshirt hack to change up the basic sleeves into a PUFF!


    As the weather is still incredibly warm here, t-shirt dresses have been in high rotation in my wardrobe. I’ve had this old Gap dress set aside to repurpose…..because the fabric is so gorgeous and luxe that I couldn’t give it away!


    I decided that I’d use the fabric to make the body of the Rivington t-shirt and use a cotton poplin for the puffed sleeves. After examining the dress a bit more, I ended up not recutting the dress into a Rivington tshirt, but instead just chopping off the sleeves, since it was so very similar to the Rivington shape.



    Shortly after taking these photos I asked in a poll on Instagram if you thought I should keep it as a dress or hack it into a shirt, and you decided….a shirt! You can follow my step by step below to see how it went and make your own puffed sleeve hack!


    Even though I decided to repurpose an old t-shirt dress, you could easily make your own puffed sleeve tshirt using The Rivington tshirt pattern which you could also easily hack into a dress if you wanted! As you probably know, The Rivington is one of my more recent sewing patterns and is a simple but luxe t-shirt that comes with two different necklines – vneck and crew!



    For the sleeve hack, I used a medium weight crisp cotton, but you could use any lightweight to mediumweight wovens such as cotton lawn that is opaque, cotton poplin, denim or chambray, viscose challis, linen and linen blends.


    I purchased 1/2 meter of fabric which was just enough for the sleeves. Keep in mind how much volume you plan to add to your shirt/dress when purchasing your fabric and the width of your fabric.

    a t-shirt dress or shirt
    Rivington t-shirt sleeve pattern (you can do this with any sleeve pattern you have though!)
    1/2 yard or meter to 1 yard/meter of fabric for the sleeves
    Paper for drafting the pattern
    Matching thread

    How to hack it!


    First, you’ll want to trace a copy of your original pattern, since we’re going to be cutting up the pattern to allow for the puff volume.



    Next, following the grainline, you’ll want to make one vertical line approximately in the center of your sleeve. Then, draw 4 more lines (2 on either side) about 1″ apart from one another. In total, you’ll have 5 lines that are spaced 1″ apart.



    Now, cut along each line you just drew.



    Now, you’ll want to lay your cut up sleeve on top of a large piece of pattern paper. You can number your cut pattern pieces so you keep them in order. Tape down the right side sleeve piece.



    Keeping your cut sleeve pieces in order s t r e t c h them out as shown below. I spaced mine out with 3″ in between. You can stretch them at smaller increments for a less puffy sleeve or more space for an even fuller puff sleeve. Align the pieces so the bottom edge is straight, keeping the slight upper sleeve outward curve. Once you’re happy with the placement, tape all the pieces down.

    Next, you’ll want to measure up 3-5″ at the center of your new sleeve. I used 3″ on my sleeve but you can increase or decrease this number based on if you’d like a higher reaching puff or not. This extra space is going to give your fabric room to fall over the shoulder…basically creates the puff along with the gathers.



    Now, starting at the center 3″ extension, trace a new cutting line, as shown below:

    The last pattern adjustment to make is the length of the sleeve! I added about 6″ to the lower length of my sleeve, so that the puffed sleeve would finish below my elbow. I didn’t have enough paper length to draw this in, so I just added it as I cut out my sleeve! Which reminds me to say that this sleeve is very forgiving! So, have fun with this pattern hack and don’t worry about perfection!



    To sew in this sleeve, you’ll want to gather the top sleeve edges starting approx at the point where you’ve started to ease upwards to the 3″. Pull up the gathers to fit.



    I finished the bottom edge of my sleeve by adding a casing and 1/4″ elastic.



    And voila! You have a beautiful puffed sleeve!



    In the end, I did decide to cut the dress into a shirt length! While I love the dress, I’m going to get a lot more wears from the shirt as it’s a bit less fancy and just enough vavavoom for everyday.


    Let me know if you decide to hack your Rivington into a puffed sleeve – I’d love to see! If you have any questions, drop a comment below!


    If you like pattern hacking and want to learn more, check out my course, Hack It.

    Happy pattern hacking!


    • September 17, 2021


      Did you serge the edge of your sleeve then turn it under to make an elastic casing? I see a serged edge on the inside.

      • September 17, 2021

        I did! You don’t even see the serging once it’s on the body 🙂


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