Emery Dress Sew-Along: Making It Sleeveless


Hi all! Welcome to part 17 of the Emery Dress Sew-Along, where we're going to talk about how to make the dress sleeveless! There are not a lot of images here because it's all based on your personal choices, but I will touch on some things you will want to think about when opting to not sew on the sleeves. And how gorgeous is Marrie's sleeveless version above? Gets you thinking about doing this yourself, right?

Before we jump into it, let me apologize for this being a day late! I've enjoyed the sew-along so far, but I have to be honest, it's a lot of work to keep up with! So I find myself struggling to keep up on the posts. A smarter person would be writing these days or weeks in advance, but clearly I'm not that person! Anyhoo, let's get to the topic at hand!


Garments are drafted to either have sleeves or not. Rare are the items that can do both without any changes to the way the upper bust and armscye area fit. If you decide to go the sleeveless route, ideally you would have made a few changes to the pattern prior to cutting it all out. Whether you decide to go sleeveless early or late in the construction phase, here are some things to consider:

  • The armscye will be a bit low for a sleeveless dress, since that is not how it was drafted, so you will want to raise the armscye at the side seam to land a bit higher. Know that making these kinds of changes while still using the sleeve will create changes in the way the sleeve fits and any changes done to one must be changed to match on the other, but since you won't be sewing on the sleeve that is no longer a concern and you can change the armscye at will!
  • The upper bust area will likely feel too large, since there is ease there to ensure movement in your arms once the sleeve is attached. Consider folding the area from the bust to the armscye across the upper bust and removing fabric from that area. Please make a new muslin after making any pattern changes!
  • The shoulder seam is not shaped to be sleeveless and you might want to consider reshaping it to land on a more flattering spot on your shoulder. Just omitting the sleeve will result in a "muscle tee" rather than a "tank" or something more shapely. But again, since you're not adding the sleeve, you can rework that area as much as you like. If you are doing these kinds of things, I suggest tracing off the original pattern piece so it remains complete while you manipulate the traced version.


I prefer to use a classic bias binding method for finishing necklines and armscye edges that don't have facings. To learn how to do this in two different ways, check out the posts I did for Craftsy earlier in the year. You can see one method here that is a tiny bit harder as the sewing and pressing must be rather precise, and you can see an easier method here that in the end has the same result. 

Both of these tutorials are demonstrated on a neckline (as pictured above), but these methods can be used on any hole that you want to bind, so just ignore that part! 

And really, that's all there is to it! Let me know if anyone has questions on how to do this in the comments, and let me know if you're thinking of making it sleeveless! See you back here again soon to finish up the bow and hem! Yippie!!! 

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