Cap Sleeves: A Short DIY “How To”

As I mentioned in a previous post, the one thing I wished my wedding dress had that it did not was some sort of sleeve. Instead of trying to find a more expensive dress that already had sleeves to my liking (I am VERY picky when it comes to gowns with sleeves), my Mom agreed to work on the sleeves, tailoring them to my style. We ended up nabbing a great deal on the dress and I loved the sleeves my Mom came up with.

DSC_1327To get the cap sleeves as shown on my dress, we did the following:

1. Find a material that matches your dress perfectly. Take your time choosing the material. You want to look flawless.

2. Cut out the shape for each sleeve. The shape is a straight line along the bottom side with a curved edge on the top. Specifically, the top of the curve should be about 4 1/2″ from the bottom at its highest point, 2″ from the bottom at its lowest point and 6-7″ long from start to finish (This may vary depending on how you are built so measure where you want the cap to start and end on your sleeve to ensure the perfect length). I used a protractor to make sure the lines were perfectly spaced and straight. PLEASE NOTE: leave at least 6″ long, 2″ wide tabs on the end of each curve. I think I ended up leaving an 8″ tab on the back portion since I wanted my sleeves to come deep into the back, middle of my dress. The tabs are what you will attach to the inside of the dress. Making them longer gives you wiggle room to determine where you want to place your sleeves so don’t be afraid to leave them long.

3. Hem the edges of the entire piece. The size of your hem should be determined by how much you want the sleeve to cap over your shoulders and how wide you want the straps to be. (I used a 1/2″ hem) Also, note that because of the rounded edge hemming sounds easier said than done. Just be prepared to have to rework the hem a few times to prevent puckering.

HERE’S A TIP:Pin your hem and then iron over it to keep your hem in place while sewing.

4. Attach the end of each tab to the inside of your dress. Make sure you have the dress on and have someone else pin the sleeves into place. You want to make sure the sleeves fall exactly where you want them to. For me, I wanted the sleeve to envelope my shoulder, so we placed the back straps deep into the center of the dress to get that cup.

HERE’S ANOTHER TIP: To get the sleeve to cap more and hide any slight puckering, we made a 1/2″ fold where the cap hit the top of my shoulder and sewed the fold down. This allowed the sleeve to cup around my shoulder for a more “cap” style.

My mom also added beading down the center of the sleeve similar in style to the belt on my dress. She simply used a needle and thread and threaded each bead into place. It is somewhat time consuming but she worked on it during a long road trip and had it completed before the trip was over. Here is a closer picture showing the beading and the 1/2″ fold I mentioned above:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. When we made the sleeves, I had no idea I would be blogging about them so we did not take pictures of each step. Hopefully, the written directions are sufficient to get you the perfect cap sleeves! What a great way to add some sophistication and uniqueness to your special dress. Let me know how yours turn out!


4 thoughts on “Cap Sleeves: A Short DIY “How To”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Only 7” long? Is that accurate? I got more than twice that for my length, am I reading that right?

    • 7″ is the length of the curve (or what becomes the cap). A few sentences after I note to leave at least a 4″ long, 2″ wide tab on each end of the “curve”. The back tab for mine ended up being a bit longer because my dress went a little lower in the back and I wanted them to slant in. I note not to be afraid to leave them longer and also to be sure to measure the cap for your exact body shape. Does that sound more like what you got?

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