Zorba, Male Belly Dancer


Henna Design Making "Floating Sleeves" Henna Design


Zorba with Floating Sleeves
"Floating Sleeves"

Zorba with Floating Sleeves
Another set

Zorba with Floating Sleeves
Adds an "Elegant" look!

As I've received many compliments on my "Floating Sleeves", and have even had dance sisters ask me if I'd make them a set, I present a simple pattern and directions to enable just about anyone to make their own. I cannot claim credit for inventing these things, I too simply saw them on a few dancers, liked what I saw, and figured out how to make them! There are, of course, many different ways to do this, and different styles that can be done. This depiction is of long, flowing fabric ends that drape gracefully from the forearm. Bell, flaring, or other styles are certainly possible. Varying the measurements will change the effect as well. They add visual interest, grace and elegance to my costumes, and also hide my farmer's tan! Smile!

The Pattern

Floating Sleeve pattern

Measuring and Cutting

Only two measurements are needed: Measurement "L" is the Length from where you want to wear them on your upper arm, to the mid point of your forearm. NOTE: Your fabric must be twice as long as this measurement or in mathematical terms, "2L". Looking at the pattern above, you will note that measurement L is depicted a total of THREE times - more on that in a moment. Once you have your total length "2L", add 2 more inches to that for the elastic casing.

The other measurement is "C", the Circumference of your upper arm where you want to wear the sleeves - PLUS 1 inch, PLUS what ever seam allowance you prefer to use - I generally end up adding about 1/2 inch for seam allowance, so the total is my upper arm measurement plus 1-1/2 inches.

Now back to the OPTIONAL "3L": If your fabric is majorly "one sided" or otherwise has an unattractive "wrong side", you will probably want to increase the total length using 3L instead of 2L. This extra "L" as indicated on the pattern, will fold back as shown so you have prettiness on both sides of the drape. The two sleeves illustrated in the above pictures didn't require this treatment, however I recently made a set out of sequined fabric that is downright ugly on the wrong-side, hence the need for "3L". Another possibility would be to use a totally different fabric for the inside, third "L".

Once you've measured and calculated, go ahead and cut two pieces of fabric.

Sewing it together.

As I'm not exactly the Goddess's gift to sewing (or Belly Dance!), I take some extra steps that better sewers than I may opt to skip. The first thing I do is use my serger and serge the edges of the fabric. This stabilizes the edge and makes it easier to work with in subsequent steps. An overcast zig-zag stitch or even a small rolled hem with a conventional sewing machine would work too.

Next, if using the 3L measurement scheme, fold back as shown (wrong side to wrong side) and sew the edge down where it meets the main portion, then sew or serge the edges together so that the folded part becomes a double sided piece. You may or may not want to sew or serge the actual fold as well.

Skip to here for regular, "2L" projects.

Sew or serge the top section together, forming a fabric tube - INSIDE OUT!

With the tube still inside out, fold the top end down 1 inch (wrong side to wrong side) and stitch down. This will be your elastic casing. Be sure to leave a 1 inch or so gap somewhere to install the elastic later.

Now turn the project right side out, and do a sanity check fitting on your arm to make sure it fits and is what you like. Remember that the seam is worn on the TOP of your arm, which is kind of counter-intuitive. Then go ahead and install your elastic (I use anti-roll elastic of a slack length of 3/4 of measurement "C") - be sure the elastic's color is compatible with your fabric if its diaphanous!

Lastly, add trim as desired: Sequins, beads, rick-rack, lace, edging, etc. I advise starting and ending the trim at one of the corners, NOT in the bottom of the "V" as shown in the bottom portion of the pattern - that gives the "V" extra strength as the trim bridges it. You may or may not want to add similar trim to the top of the casing - but be aware that trim added in this location will need to be stretchy.

Enjoy dancing with your beautiful new sleeves!


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