Have you ever tried mixing up different sleeve styles to see what comes out? Well, I decided to test a lantern sleeve and pleated puff sleeve mix. It kind of worked.

Last year, I posted about a Wednesday Addams dress I made in organza, and ever since then, I’ve been thinking I should make something with organza again.

This sleeve seemed like the perfect occasion: Organza is a great material for puff sleeves, and on top of that, pleats look quite cool because it’s transparent.

Basically, I made the upper section of the lantern sleeve into a pleated puff sleeve. I used the sleeves to make a cute blouse. I took some pics during the making of, and I’ll also show you how to draft the pattern, if you want to try it out.

The Pattern

I used the dartless bodice block as a starting point. However, you can also use the basic bodice block. Or convert just the sleeve pattern, if you happen to have an existing blouse/dress pattern with basic sleeves.

  1. As a loose-fit blouse without a bust dart tends to shift backward, we’ll first move the shoulder seam 1cm forward. (This only applies to the dartless block.)
  2. Then, decide how long you want your blouse to be and adjust the length of the bodice pieces. Consider, that there will be a hem band that will add to the bodice length. I cut mine 6cm below the waistline. Measure the new hemline.

3. Besides the hem band, there will be little pleats at the bodice hem. So, first, determine the final hemline circumference by placing a measuring tape around you at the point your blouse hemline will be. Let’s say that’s 100cm.

Divide the measurement in half, as the bodice pattern only covers half of the circumference. In this case, it’s 100cm/2 =50cm. Add four 2cm pleats to the measurement (=8cm).


The dartless bodice hemline is identical both front and back, so you can now divide the measurement in half again: 58cm/2 =29cm. This is how wide the bodice hemline needs to be, both front and back, to include the pleats as well.

Compare the bodice hemline measurement to this measurement to see how much flare you need to add to the side seam.

Divide the pleats evenly along the hem.

4. Draw the new neckline, making it large enough for the head to pass through. Ensure the new neckline flows smoothly between the front and back pieces. Measure the size: You’ll need the measurement to cut the bias facing.

5. Shorten the shoulder line by 1cm both front and back. This is because of the puff sleeve.

The hem band is just a rectangle. The height is twice the final hem band height, for example, 4cm + 4cm =8cm, plus seam allowance on both sides. It will be folded lengthwise in half. The length is your final hem circumference plus seam allowances.

Cut the front and back bodice pieces on the fold.

The Lantern Puff Sleeve Pattern

First, we’ll draft a basic lantern sleeve, using the sleeve block that goes with your bodice.

  1. This is a short sleeve. In this example, the hemline is 9cm below the bicep line. As we moved the shoulder seam forward, we now also need to move the sleeve’s central notch 1cm forward.

2. The lantern sleeve consists of two sections. Make the lower section 6cm high.

Before separating the sections, draw these five vertical lines to add volume. The first one is in the center of the sleeve’s hemline. The second is where the front armhole notch is. The third is between these two. Then, use the distance between the first three lines to draw two more lines on the opposite side.

Separate the two horizontal sections.

3. Using the slash and spread method, add 4cm of volume at each line, as shown. Then, re-draw the lines. “Walk” the horizontal seam to check that the lengths match. Adjust if needed. Mark notches in the center.

4. The lower section is ready. Add an extra 3cm of height to the sleeve cap.

5. Now, we’ll add the box pleats to the mix. First, draw lines where the pleats will go. The one in the center should match the central notches at both ends. Add two more lines on both sides, as shown. There’s more space at the top as the sleeve cap will also be gathered (which will bring the pleats closer together).

Add 8cm of pleat allowance at a right angle between the sections. Draw a guideline in the center of each. Then, fold the two sides of the box pleats so that they meet at the guideline. Add seam allowance and cut the pattern with the pleats folded to get the correct pleat allowance shapes.

These are the pattern pieces to make the lantern puff sleeve. Add notches on both sides of the pleat allowance where needed, and also in the center where the guidelines are. The grainline is in the center of the sleeve.

The bottom piece will be cut 4 times.

Sewing the Blouse

I made the sleeves in organza and the rest of the blouse in some kind of lightweight polyester crepe, coordinating the colors.

I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the hem band in one piece, so, I added side seams.

The Puff Sleeves

I started by preparing the sleeves as I was curious to see what they’d look like.

First, I pinned all the pleats at both ends of the upper section pieces. The organza was quite difficult to work with, but I eventually completed it.

I decided to skip stitching the pleats in place along the lower edge and attach the bottom piece directly. This is because all the stitches were going to be visible and I wanted to avoid an extra row.

The seam allowance was 1cm, so I trimmed half of it off after completing the seam.

At the top edge, I did stitch the pleats in place first and then sewed a row of gathering stitches between the armhole notches.

Then, I attached the second layer of the bottom piece at the hem. This is kind of like a facing that neatly finishes both the hem and the horizontal seam. Before closing the inseam, I pressed the remaining seam allowance down along the lower edge of the facing piece.

All the remaining seams of the blouse are French seams. In the picture above I’m sewing the first row of stitches of the sleeve’s inseam, wrong sides together.

Then, I pressed the hem and pinned the inside of the facing to the horizontal seam. This was actually quite easy to sew because the fabric was transparent!

The lower section became rather wobbly. Normally you’d interface it, but I wanted to maintain the transparent look.

The Blouse Bodice

Now that the sleeves were ready, I sewed the blouse bodice. The first thing was to stay-stitch the neckline and sew the little folds in place at the hemline.

Then, I closed the side seams, shoulder seams, and hem band into a circle.

I attached one edge of the hem band to the wrong side of the bodice hemline first. This is because I wanted to top stitch the remaining edge with the right side on top.

After this, I attached the sleeves: I gathered the sleeve cap to match the armhole and pinned the wrong sides together, matching all the notches and seams. After sewing, I trimmed half of the seam allowance before the second row of stitches of the French seam.

Here you can see the result.

The last step was the neckline. Since I didn’t have any more of the bodice or sleeve fabric or even bias tape in a matching color, I went to my stash to see if I could find anything. There was this lightweight silk that was at least in the same color group.

I cut a strip on the bias, using the neckline measurement, and folded it lengthwise in half. Then, I closed it into a circle and divided it evenly into four sections, marking the points with pins.

The same with the neckline. This way, I could then match the points I marked when pinning and sewing the bias facing to the bodice neckline.

In the picture above I had completed the first seam and pressed the bias facing onto the wrong side. I opted for hand stitches to attach the remaining edge.

The Look

Here’s the blouse with the lantern puff sleeves. These are quite the princess sleeves! 😀

They are like little clouds. I think they’d be less puffy in a different fabric. Send me pics if you end up trying. I’m curious!


  1. wow! it’s so cute. and you’re right the organza is cute. nice to see you doing the modeling

    • Thanks Julie! 🙂 Yeah, organza may be tricky to sew but it sure looks great once you manage to finish the piece. 😀

  2. Minna,
    I love this! They ARE like little clouds and I love it! I think the organza is what makes this so lovely. You are inspiring me – I hope to give this a try one day.

  3. It looks fantastic!! I love the rich color with the transparency, and the differing thicknesses of the pleats really is eye-catching. I often wonder why sewists pin fabric the way you do, with the pins pointing up toward the sewing machine needle, parallel to the fabric edge. I was taught to pin perpendicular to the fabric edge and then just sew over the pins (slow down a bit so the needle hops over the pins, rather than hitting them). The fabric slips less along the pins and I’m also a bit leery removing pins just before the fabric goes under the needle, especially with tricky fabrics like satin, organza, etc. Do you have an oPINion on pin placement? Are there advantages to pinning parallel to the edge of the fabric that I’m not aware of? Maybe in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter…Thank you, Minna – I always enjoy seeing your newsletters in my inbox!

    • Thank you! 🙂 I was tempted to make it in black again but managed to resist. 😀 Yeah, I’ve been wondering when someone would point that out about the pins. I know you’re supposed to pin the other way but I find it easier the way I do. I mean, when I absolutely need to coincide seams, I pin perpendicular but in all other cases no. Except when I try to do the right thing. 😀

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