How to deflate puff sleeves without sewing

How to Deflate Puff Sleeves Without Sewing?

Sleeves have been a subject of change over time. It becomes the defining factor for many dresses. One such type is the puff sleeves. They have become a new thing in fashion. You will see them in all the fashion shows and many people opting for one. However, the puff sleeve may not be for you.

So how to deflate the puff sleeves without sewing? There are many things to consider when altering clothes. One of them is: can it be done without needing to sew it back together again? Altering a dress by sewing can be a hassle. Luckily, you can easily deflate puff sleeves without having to sew them, and here is how!  

Key Takeaways

  • A puff sleeve is the extra fabric that is on the length of the sleeve bunched up together and sewn to create a sleeve that is bigger in volume.
  • To deflate the puff sleeve, you will need to open the seam of the sleeve and cut out the excess fabric that makes up the puff sleeve, and sew it back together.
  • You can reattach the puff sleeve again, but it would be harder to do on a sleeve that is glued or taped back together.

What is a Puff Sleeve?

A puff sleeve is where the sleeves are puffed up and given an added volume to make them look bigger. This is done by stitching a bunch of fabric by gathering them together in one place. This gives it the puffiness that puff sleeves are known for.

The thing about puff sleeves is that they can be placed anywhere. It can be placed on the top of the shoulder, the middle of the arm, at the opening, or even have the whole sleeve puffed up! It can also contain elastic material so it can stretch out as much as possible without ruining the fabric.

Guide to Deflate Puff Sleeve Without Sewing

All types of puff sleeves, whether they are bell sleeves or puffy sleeves, are all from a regular sleeve pattern. Because of that, it is easy to remove without having to sew it back together. So here are the steps you need to follow to deflate the puff sleeve without sewing.

Step 1: Ripping off the sleeve seam from the dress

First, you need to turn the sleeve right side out. After that, lay the dress down on a flat surface and make all the necessary markings of any extra fabric that you want to get rid of. At this point, you can get your seam ripper and rip out the seam from the body of the dress. You can also get rid of any padding or elastic along the sleeve.

Ripping off the sleeve seam from the dress
Ripping off the sleeve seam from the dress

Step 2: Do it for the other sleeve

Remember, you have two sleeves that you will be working on. So, it is important to do this for the other sleeve right now. This way, whatever measurements you will be doing, you can copy them onto the other sleeve and have the same markings. That way, your sleeves will be of the same length and size so you wouldn’t have to worry about readjusting later.

Do it for the other sleeve
Do it for the other sleeve

Step 3: Measure the armhole

Next, flatten out any excess fabric to get an idea of the armhole. Then, measure the armhole of the sleeve. Get the circumference of the sleeve and allow for about an inch for seam allowance. Mark the line where the sleeve will go on the dress. At this point, you can make alter the sleeve however you want.

Measure the armhole
Measure the armhole

Step 4: Cut the excess fabric

After getting the measurements that will be put back into the main dress, it is time to cut off any excess fabric from the sleeve. This will be all bunched up together and looked crumpled. They won’t make up the actual sleeve but adjacent to it so it will be easy to spot. Use a seam ripper to get rid of the seam and then cut off the excess fabric from the sleeve. Just make sure that there is enough fabric on the inside so you can move your arm around the sleeve.

Cut the excess fabric
Cut the excess fabric

Step 5: Gluing or taping it together

Now that you have all the excess fabric cut off, it is time to glue the sleeve back to the main dress! You can either tape it or glue it together so let’s take a look at how to do that.

Make a small fold on the inner side of the sleeve (this is why it is important to leave at least an inch or two of fabric to allow for this taping). Add the hemp tape on the inside of the fold and then iron over it. Make sure to leave about an ⅛th inch of space between the end of the fabric and hem tape before ironing it. Take a dry iron on medium to medium-high heat and iron over the cloth to make sure the heat is not directly applied.

For fabric glue, do the same fold on the sleeve and line it up with where you want to attach it to the dress. Then, all you have to do is glue it together. If you are using Gorilla Glue, make sure to very slightly wet the surface so that the glue can attach. Then leave the glue to dry (this could take up to 24 hours) and you have a non-puffed sleeve!

And with that, you are done with deflating your puff sleeve without having to do any sort of sewing. All you needed to do was take out the sleeve, cut out the excess fabrics, and reattach the sleeve back to the main dress. It is simple, easy, and quick!

Gluing or taping it together
Gluing or taping it together

Can You Add the Puff Sleeve Back After Deflating?

After a while, you may feel like you want to re-add the puff sleeve after deflating it. The good news is that you can definitely add the puff sleeve back. The bad news is that you may have a bit more work to do if you added hemp tape or fabric glue. With fabric glue and hemp tape, you would have to take them off to properly add the puff sleeve back together.

To do this, you would have to dampen the fabric in cold water and use a wet sponge to smear the glue away. If that does not work, you can get a cotton swap and use acetone to thin out the glue enough so you can open the seam again. The seam would be damaged like this so before sewing it back you will need to cut off the old seam and make a new seam marking.

For hemp tape, just like how you set it with heat, you can use heat to remove it again. It is best to use a steam iron on the highest heat setting and blast the tape with it until the tape comes off. This will also weaken the seam so you might need to make a new seam.

After getting the seam off the sleeve, you can either use a sewing or use fabric glue to bunch up the fabric together and puff up the extra fabric. Sewing would be easier but you can also glue to stick together, and then sew or glue back the sleeve to the main part of the dress. And to get rid of the puff sleeve again, you would have to do all the steps mentioned earlier!


Can you alter any type of puff sleeves?

You could alter any type of puff sleeve. It all depends on your sewing experience if you want to either deflate the puff sleeve or alter it by shortening it.

Can you put back the puff sleeve?

Yes, you can! It is all about gathering the fabric and bunching them together and stitching them. You could also stick them with fabric glue and have them stick together to give them puffiness.

How to get the elastic out of puff sleeves?

To get the elastic out, simply turn the sleeve inside out and use a seam ripper to open the seam. Then, take out any stitching that is holding the elastic and you will be done.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, an easy way to deflate puff sleeves without sewing. Puff sleeves might be the fashion but it is just as important to wear what you think is right. If you don’t like how puff sleeves look, then you can follow the above guidelines and easily take them out. It won’t be a problem and you don’t need any extensive knowledge about sewing. All you need to do is take proper measurements, then cut out the excess fabric, glue the sleeve back, and you will be done!


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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