DIY Flounce Bell Sleeves (Circle Ruffles)

blush and floral flounce top with floral tree background
I absolutely love bell sleeves! I love them because they add a lovely feminine touch to any garment. When I first started to sew bell sleeves, I would make them by gathering a strip of fabric like in this tutorial. This time around, I decided to do something different and make flounces, or circle ruffles, instead. I love the look of flounces because they flow so elegantly. Flounce bell sleeves are essentially mini circle skirts that are attached to your sleeves.

blush top with floral flounces and velvet circle skirt

I started off with this darling blush top with a small shoulder ruffle. For the flounce bell sleeves, I used a gorgeous double brush poly from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics. By creating mini circle skirts for your sleeves, you achieve this gorgeous flounce. I paired my new top with a circle skirt for ultimate twirl and drape. :) 


To create these flounce bell sleeves, you will need to create mini circle skirts. I used this Circle Skirt Calculator, which you can also use to create your own full size circle skirts.

1. Measure your sleeve opening, where the blue dots are shown.
Take this measurement and double it. 

Example: My sleeve opening was 5 1/2" and I doubled it, so it was 11".

sleeve opening measured with tape measure

This is a screenshot the Circle Skirt Calculator

For this particular top that I was working with, I wanted to go with full circular pieces, so I clicked on full. If you want less volume or don't have enough fabric for full circle pieces, go with the half circle option.

The part that says "Mini, Midi, Maxi" doesn't apply here, since we are not making a full length circle skirt. Decide how long you want your flounces. 
I decided to cut out 5" flounces.

The waist number is going to be the measurement of the sleeve opening.
My measurement was 11".


2. Fold your fabric once, if you're creating a half circle flounce
Fold your fabric twice, if you're creating a full circle flounce

Fold ONCE for a half circle flounce

Fold TWICE for a full circle flounce

3. To cut out your flounces, you will use the Waist Radius number.

The blue line shows where you will use the Waist Radius number. Measure and mark evenly from the corner, until you form a curve, as shown by the purple dots.

After marking your radius, measure evenly from the radius until you form a curve.
Example: I decided to cut out 5" flounces, so I measured 5" from the waist radius to form an even curve.

Here is how the process of marking your flounces looks like:

(In these photos, I folded the fabric twice since I wanted full circle flounces. If you only want half circle flounces, continue to do everything as shown, but with only one fold)


This is how your new flounce piece will look when cut out. 
(It is still folded in this photo)

flounce circle ruffle piece cut out

Phew! We got through the hardest part, hooray! 

Honestly, we are just making tiny circle skirts, there is just a lot of numbers and measuring involved. You can relax now though, we got through it. :)

4. If you are going to hem your flounces, now is the time to do so. 
You can also leave them with a raw edge, if your fabric doesn't fray, like knits.
To hem a circular piece, check out this tutorial here. I promise it's quick and easy!

flounce circle ruffle serged and pinned

New flounce is hemmed and ready to be sewn on!

flounce circle ruffle piece hem

5. With right sides together, pin and sew the flounce to your top.
(The pink dots)

pink shirt with flounce pinned on

All ready and pretty!

refashioned shirt with flounces circle ruffles sewn on

blush flounce top with floral tree background

blush top with flounces and velvet skirt with floral tree background

floral flounce circle ruffle close up

blush and floral flounce circle ruffle top close up


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