Bell Sleeves - Free Pattern and Tutorial


It makes me so happy to see more and more of the 1960's and 1970's fashion coming back in style. I think everyone knows about my love for simple shift dresses (link to my free pattern), but I also love other details like bell sleeves, embroidery, color blocking, and denim. If you follow me on Pinterest this is no surprise. 

Denim Shift Dress/Bell Sleeves Inspiration - Image from Pinterest

Denim Shift Dress/Bell Sleeves Inspiration - Image from Pinterest

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This long sold out denim dress from Zara gave me all kinds of heart eyes. It's a shift dress, denim, and has bell sleeves! I mean, what else could you want. 

I found a denim lookalike knit fabric on sale at JoAnn's a few weeks ago and purchased it with the plan to make a similar dress that could transition into fall. The material sat in my office for a few weeks and I just couldn't finish out small details for the dress in my mind.

So the denim shirt with bell sleeves and split side hem design was born. 

I used my shift dress pattern for the shirt and just altered the length of the pattern and altered the sleeve for the bell effect. It was such a quick, fun, and simple project!

Free downloadable bell sleeves pattern and tutorial.

Free downloadable bell sleeves pattern and tutorial.

What I Used

  • My simple shift dress pattern (it's free and takes less than two seconds to download).
  • My bell sleeve pattern I created (it's also free!). This pattern is one size but can easily be altered to fit any pattern size.
  • 1.5 yards of fabric (I used a knit fabric but actual denim or chambray would be amazing too).

Bell Sleeves Tutorial

1. Alter the length of the shift dress pattern for a shirt.

Measure from the top of your neck to the length you want the top to be and add one inch for the hem. Use that measurement for the front pattern piece.

Measure the nap of your neck to mid bum and add one inch. Use that measurement for the back pattern piece.

For reference, I'm a size four and my back piece was 24.5 inches after it was hemmed. My front piece was 19.5 inches after being hemmed. If you're doing a level hem don't use my measurements (mine has a split seam).

2. Switch out the shift dress sleeves for the bell sleeves pattern.

The bell pattern is one size. If it doesn't fit the size you are, use the the downloadable pattern to adjust the sleeve pattern that fits your size. 

How to alter it to fit a different size: Trace the top (arc) of your pattern on a piece of paper or fabric. Use the downloadable bell sleeve pattern to trace the sides and bottom arc of the downloadable bell sleeve linked above.

3. Follow the shift dress tutorial for the remaining steps.

It's that simple!