Monday, September 7, 2015

Would they Wear That? Dolman tops

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I (Major Moma) am reading Tim Gunn's book The Fashion Bible (affiliate link) and am quite enjoying learning the history behind the garments we wear today.  So in the spirit of Mr. Gunn's book, I thought I would share a little history about a style of top I am making for Abi's Back-to-School wardrobe.

Tee shirts are an absolute must for today's wardrobe but I think they can look sloppy or boring so I love it when I can find a tee that has some fun shape to it.  And the "dolman" shirt is perfect for adding that little something special to a basic tee.  Also, the cut is quite comfortable so there is no sacrifice for fashion!

Wikapedia traces the origins of the Doman to Turkish court clothing and describes a woman's dolman top as "dolman sleeve is a sleeve set into a very low armscye; in fact, the armscye may extend to the waistline, in which case there will be no underarm seam in the blouse. Dolman sleeves were very popular in ladies clothing during the Civil War. They returned to popular fashion in the mid 1980s with dolman sleeves on acid and stone-washed denim jackets geared towards teenage boys and girls. They had the effect of making the shoulders look sloped therefore minimizing the appearance of the waist."


I am guessing that it is the '80s fashion revival that has brought the dolman back on trend for us today.  See! there was some good fashion in the '80s!

If you are not as interested in the history of fashion but need to know what makes a dolman sleeve a dolman, has a much less illuminating description:

a sleeve tapered from a very large armhole to fit closely at the wrist,used on women's garments.
A short sleeve version of this top is wonderfully simple because the sleeve is cut onto the front and back.  What that means is that there are only two pieces to the pattern!  (unless you opt for binding the neckline)

The longer sleeve version has a sleeve that attaches to that dropped shoulder and is quite fitted on the arm while the under arm is left loose and breezy.

There are two dolman sleeve patterns on my cutting table right now; Shwin & Shwin's Day Tripper top and Jaile's 3352.  But there are other options if you want to sew this style for your tween.

A pattern I have not tried but have seen good things written about is the Carlie by EYMM.  It comes in sizes into the high tweens/teens and has a trendy high/low thing going on too.
Pattern's for Pirates has a woman's dolman called the Pumpkin Spice that comes in an XXS that according to the measurements would fit a size 10 or 12 tween girl.  This pattern has a couple different design options and if it is as good as the other P4P patterns I have sewn, it is sure to be a winner.

Sew Much Ado has two dolman tops in it's shop.  One is for children and only goes up to size 10 and the other is for women and starts at XS.  One of these may work for your tween.  Check out the measurements and see ...


Jaile's 3352 comes in sizes 2T to 22 Woman's.  So this is a pattern that can really fit all the girls/ladies in your family.

The Day Tripper also is not a children's pattern.  It is designed for women but the XS is an option for the older tweens.  (Plus, you can sew one up for you too just to make the purchase worth it, right?)

And finally, if you are more of a Draft-it-Yourself gal or simply don't have the cash to spend on one more pattern during the school buying frenzy, Becca's Creative Notions has a tutorial on how to use your normal tee-shirt pattern to draft a dolman sleeve tee-shirt.

Sooo,,. Would your tween wear a dolman top?


  1. I've tried the Carly pattern and it wasn't good. It was huge round the chest, but really tight round the tummy. And I'd gone up a few sizes, for a very slim girl, because dd wanted a loose fitting dolman top for dance. It went straight in the scrap bin and I've not dared use it again for fear of wasting fabric. Tbh whenever I've seen it on other kids it looks the same, an odd fit.

    1. Those are some good tips. It is so disappointing when a pattern does not meet expectations.

  2. My teenage sister says yes she likes dolman style sleeves. Also shirts like Create Kids Couture's Milan top with single or double sleeves she says that it her favorite style.


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