adding sleeves to a cowl-neck bodice

cowl neck sleeves 2

When I made my seriously sophisticated dress, I had to add sleeves to the design. I did some research on Pinterest to see what sleeves looked like on a cowl-neck bodice and to see if it would even be worth it to alter the pattern. I loved the seamless look of sleeves built into the design of the bodice rather than the usual set-in sleeve. And with this particular pattern, the sleeves modification turned out to be pretty simple.


First, identify where the shoulder seams are. The Myrtle dress bodice is unique because it’s self-lined, so the actual pattern piece has the shoulder seams in the middle with a fold-line marked. That notch in the center is where I want to extend the pattern.


Decide how much you want to add. At this point I hadn’t yet made a muslin and guessed on how much to add. I wanted the sleeves to effectively cover my shoulders while still maintaining the elegant design in the bodice. I added four inches to the shoulder seam. I simply extended the line using the straight edge of a French curve on both shoulder seams to make it symmetrical.


Then take a French curve (they retail for around $18, and I bought mine with a 50-percent-off coupon at Joann’s) and connect your extended shoulder seam to the side seam. Remember to repeat this process on the back bodice piece. On the Myrtle pattern, the shoulder seams for the front and back pieces are actually different lengths, and I didn’t realize that until I made up a muslin.


See that the back of the sleeves is about half an inch longer than the front? This, dear friends, is why we make muslins! So to reflect that in the pattern piece, I simply measured the new total length of the front shoulder seam and adjusted my extension line on the back shoulder seam.


With this particular pattern, I didn’t have to change anything about the actual bodice construction. The self-lined bodice came together exactly as the pattern instructions indicated. I’d love to try and make this pattern in a sweater knit for fall or even in a silk charmuese or crepe for a dazzling holiday number.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful, and please comment with any questions!

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