The understated grey tone-on-tone stripe fabric of my recent Perfect Match dress provides an opportunity to add some fun details. I like to add a design element over the kick pleat on a pencil skirt; usually this is a button tab copied from an original vintage 1950s pencil skirt in my wardrobe, but this time I thought I’d experiment with a bow instead. And why stop there - I decided to extend the bow theme to the sleeve cuffs too! And the good news is, all the pattern pieces to make this are just simple rectangles.
Kick pleat bow
For the kick pleat bow cut two rectangles:
one 8 ¼” x 7 ¼” for the bow
one 2 ⅜” x 4 ¾” for the ‘knot’ (note: I cut this on the bias so the stripe would run diagonally on the knot)
To prepare the knot, stitch the long edges together using a ⅝” seam allowance, trim the seams down to ¼” and turn right-side out (a tube turner tool comes in handy for this). For the bow, seam along the long edges, this time leaving a small (about ¾”) gap in the stitching at the centre of the seam. Carefully press the seam open (trying to avoid pressing the edges), then rotate the tube so the seam is centred. Seam the short edges, then trim the corners and turn right-side out, using a point turner or knitting needle to gently push out the corners. Press flat. You can slip stitch the gap closed if you want, but since this will be completely hidden it’s not strictly necessary unless the gap is very large (I tend not to bother). Note: the step-by-step photos below are not to scale for the kick pleat bow (they show the small bow for the cuff), but the construction is identical.
To finish the bow, wrap the knot around the larger rectangle so that it bunches up in the middle, and stitch it together by hand at the back. Then hand sew the bow to the back of the skirt above the kick pleat - I attached it at each corner and at the centre knot.
Measure and prepare your sleeves. The cuff will add about 2” to the length of the sleeve, so trim your sleeves to 1 ⅜” shorter than the desired finished length (providing a ⅝” seam allowance).
Cut your rectangles for the cuffs - two of each size:
Cuff: 5 ¼” wide (for a 2” wide cuff plus ⅝” seam allowances), by the width of the bottom edge of the sleeve.
Knot: 5” x 3 ¼”
Bow 6” x 5”
Prepare the knots and bows in the same way as for the bow above, trimming the seam allowances down to ¼” after stitching each seam. Sew the short edges of the cuffs (right sides together) and press the seam open.
Mark where the bowknot should sit: with the dress right side out, lay the sleeve flat, with the seam at one side; find the point exactly opposite the seam and mark with a pin or disappearing ink pen. Position the bowknot ever so slightly forward of this point (which should be more or less in direct line with the shoulder seam), with one short edge aligned with the edge of the sleeve, right sides together; pin. Baste in place ½” from the edge (within the ⅝” seam allowance).
Prepare the cuff: fold in half lengthways and lightly press. Then fold in the ⅝” seam allowance on one side and press.
Sew the cuff to the sleeve: slip the cuff piece over the outside of the sleeve, right sides together. Pin the unfolded long edge of the cuff to the outside of the sleeve, matching seams. Stitch, then grade and press seam allowances towards the cuff.
Draw up the bowknot piece on the inside, adjusting the length to give the cuff the right amount of ‘ruche’ so it resembles a bow. Pin on the inside, and trim the end of the bowknot piece to leave just a seam allowance beyond the cuff seam (I cut off about ¾”).
Finish the cuff on the inside. Turn the garment inside out. Pin or hand baste the folded-in edge of the cuff so it just covers the stitching on the inside, leaving a gap about ¼” either side of the bowknot. Tuck the end under the cuff. Either slipstitch by hand on the inside, or ‘stitch in the ditch’ from the outside to finish the cuff.
Finally, with the dress right-side out again, tuck the smaller bow piece between the cuff and the bowknot. I haven’t stitched mine in place, so they’re easily removable (in order that the dress can be worn under a cardigan or jacket without a weird bulk at the elbow) - they stay in place well enough just tucked through.
And you’re done! Put on your finished dress and enjoy!