Bubble Sleeve Dress Sewing Tutorial

Someone special is featured on the blog today — my sister! She recently graduated from high school and found the perfect dress to wear… but it was WAY expensive. We talked it through and decided it wouldn’t be too hard to make!

The dress we planned to take inspiration from is this Reformation Michaela dress. The bubble sleeves are such a fun touch, paired with a mini length to balance them out. Since I had just completed another project (over on my Instagram) with shirring and already had made a dress with a similar bodice pattern (check it out here), the bodice would be a piece of cake to put together.

As it turns out, I had been attempting to recreate the look of shirring on that last dress I made, but I didn’t know that elastic thread existed, and I didn’t know it was called shirring, so I sewed 1/8″ elastic… not the easiest task, but essentially the same thing! If you have never tried shirring, though, it’s honestly so simple. It makes an incredibly comfortable bodice which is more forgiving when fitting. The trick is winding the bobbin with elastic thread by hand and making sure to not pull to tight or too loose when winding it. Once you have your bobbin ready, load it into the machine, adjust your tension to be a little higher than normal, and sew in a straight line. Repeat the straight stitches across each back panel, sewing about 3/8″ to 1/2″ from the previous line each time. Keeping the lines straight and even is key to getting a clean look.

In the end, we were both thrilled with the result, and Emma even got photos taken by our same wedding photographer, Kayleigh, wearing it! If you are interested in learning how to make this for yourself, head over to Fabric Wholesale Direct for the tutorial!

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