Silk Balloon Sleeve Top

I think I should call 2017 the year of the top around here! There was the black and white  the pink one, the blue one, the white one – and now this one. I promise you I have been sewing other types of clothing too!


This one is in a gorgeous raisin coloured burgundy-brown – I love this colour! The fabric is a power loomed silk dupion which has a smoother texture than the more rustic hand loomed variety. It was a remnant left over from making some bridesmaids dresses years ago, so it was great to finally use it up:

PatternScissorsCloth buttons

As I was planning to make a top that I would probably hand wash, I threw the silk in the washing machine to preshrink it. This roughed it up nicely –  it dulled the finish and created some extra texture via crinkles! It still retained its crispness which was important for the style I had planned.


Yes – another cropped top! This time I wanted a mid length balloon sleeve, and designed one with a mixture of seaming and pleats to create the fullness.

PatternScissorsCloth sleeve

The dupion works well and has just enough crispness, but I feel like it has become a bit squashed under my jacket! A fabric with a bit more body would stand up better so I’m on the lookout for The Perfect Brocade.


PatternScissorsCloth sleeve1

The neckline was the trickiest bit to sew! I tried sewing the binding on three times and each time a pucker formed in the same place. The sort of pucker you would expect to press out, but this fabric was not forgiving:

PatternScissorsCloth pucker text

A brainwave came to me later that the problem point was right on the neck curve, and I could have tried sewing that part in the opposite direction, as due to its weave dupion responds well to directional sewing. I might go back and fix it later.

Na – let’s get real – I won’t ever!

The back is buttoned and I got these gorgeous engraved tagua buttons dyed to match the silk. They’re a little on the big side, but I liked the button too much to let that put me off.

PatternScissorsCloth buttonholes

These are the first buttonholes done on my new sewing machine! That is part of the reason I am showing a summer top in the middle of winter, because it has been finished for a while but just needed buttonholes.


(By the way, I’m very excited about my new machine – a blog post is coming one day!)

So – not really much else to say about this top, except I wear it whenever I can. I’m loving all the voluminous sleeves showing and feel the need for a few more – suddenly everything else in my wardrobe seems the wrong proportion! Are you loving big sleeves too?

And do you throw your silk fabric in the washing machine? 😉


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Designer, Patternmaker, Blogger Of All Things Sewing. Follow as I share projects, patterns, and my favourite tricks of the trade.

26 thoughts on “Silk Balloon Sleeve Top

  1. Lovely Top,
    I work with silk dupion quite a lot and always throw it in the washing machine. I read that it means that if once the garment is made up and you spill a drink down it, it won’t leave a watermark stain, as apparently it would if you did not pre-wash.

    Thank you for your blog, I love seeing you in my inbox!


    1. Thank you Marysiap! That’s a great point about preventing a watermark. I have made them in the past with a leaky iron!


  2. The top looks great and I do like how you have drafted the sleeves – please could you tell us more about this aspect. How did you alter a basic sleeve draft to get this effect? I am feeling inspired!


    1. Thanks Anne! For the sleeve, I added a seam to the front and back, curving them to add extra volume, and also added an inverted pleat to the hem edge. I might do a tutorial!


  3. Lovely topp, awesome sleeves – I definitely need some. And yes, I always wash silk. Both pre making and as a garment. Only ever send some structured garments like coats and jackets to the dry cleaners (And even that is very rare). I’m of the mind that awesome and precious garments have been made for thousands of years, with no dry cleaning available, so why should I go that route? Gentle hand washing will do if neither normal nor gentle cycle of the washing machine is a good idea.


    1. Good point about washing silk centuries ago! I prewashed mine in the machine, but I do handwash the finished garment as I want to protect that gorgeous rich colour.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Silks can go into the washer with the rest of the natural fibers. I don’t dry them into oblivion, but I will toss them into a dryer with the rest of the load. Slightly damp cottons, silks, and linens then get put on their hangers and let finish drying on a rack before they go upstairs into the (jam-packed) closet.

    My sense that my wardrobe proportions want changing is not so much about sleeves — as a Woman of a Certain Age, I always wear sleeves, and I like interesting sleeves. My yearning is for longer blouses and tops. The neat, stop-at-the-waist shirtwaists and jackets of the past decade now look … well, just wrong to my tired old eyes.

    I still like asymmetric hems for tops, trews, and skirts. I want something longer on top to complement those design elements.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ooh! I wonder what this would look like under a vest? That would be an extra layer for warmth, but with the sleeves on full display…

    As for throwing silk in the washer–I toss everything in there, it’s gotta be machine washable to be in my closet! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one is self-drafted and is quite a different fit to the Burda T-shirt. (Especially in the armhole – this one is much closer fitting.)


  6. Lovely that is my kind of sleeve I have used it on so many items, I love the colour too. I know what you mean about not going back to fix stuff I always feel there is something else to make and I will do better next time 😉 xx


    1. Every time I put it on I think “I must fix that pucker”, but I never do! Then I tell myself that most people will never notice it anyway, and that 99% is still an A+!


  7. I embraced the big sleeve last summer. I am looking forward to spring to be able to indulge again. It is way too cold here for anything without full length sleeves at the moment.

    The colour of your top is really pretty. I have some silk duponi that I inherited that you have inspired me to use.


    1. Definitely long sleeve weather at the moment!
      Silk dupion can be so dressy (I can’t get past the bridesmaid thing) but making it into a cute top is one way of turning it into everyday wear.


  8. I loved sewing with silk dupioni, and pre washed like you. My only washing issue was stain removal, and I’ve left some faded patches under the arms where I removed sweat stains. Might have to see if I can scoop those armholes lower to fix my dress!


  9. This is so lovely! and the colour is ooh,absolutely perfect. I sometimes toss a silk dupion in the machine too, particular if it’s not a formal thing. I love the matte, slubby, distressed look it gets afterwards. 🙂


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