Dress Detail of The (Election) Year

This is a dress for waving to the huddled masses. This election year I’m in a constant state of  that “bad-taste-in-my-mouth” feeling. But let’s move on – to the dress worn my Mrs Trump (right) at the RNC.  Those sleeves!! Pure, sartorial drama.  Then I came across this!!  Joyce Beatty (left), Democratic Congresswoman from Ohio wore the same dress on the DNC stage.


As a member of the huddled masses, I attempted to recreate that look, specifically the sleeve edge.  About the dress: it was tagged as being a “modern bride” look by the online seller, and is designed by Roksanda Illincic, with a price tag of $2190. Word got around that it sold out within a short time after Mrs. T appeared on the RNC stage.  To knock off the sleeve detail, I had only Mrs. T and Ms B’s photos that were going viral. Well, fine.

Pattern used: No sheath dress for me. The old stand-by, the Renfrew Top by Sewaholic Patterns made another appearance and I made the top quickly so I could move on to the diaphanous “cloud ruffle” at the sleeve edge. Note to remember: making sure that the sleeve hem ends just above the elbow.

Pre-cloud ruffle. For this detail, its best that the sleeve ends just above the elbow.

Fabric Used:  Not sure what fabric was used in the original design, but I bought creamy white cotton/lycra from Sew Much Fabric which they call in Swiss Cotton Knit. It is a tightly knit cotton/lycra. The ruffle detail is silk organza with a tulle underlining for dimension.

Let’s analyze the detail in question. The “ruffles” seem to be made of the same fabric as the dress, but I pulled out some creamy silk organza to give it a translucent, diaphanous look. It also seems that a regular drop down sleeve ruffle was turned up to form the cloud-like formation around the elbows.  Picturesque! Was crinoline or some other underlining used to give dimension to the “clouds”? I decided on a tulle underlining.


How I made it: I completed the Renfrew top, and moved to the sleeve detail. Here’s how it went:

  • I measured the circumference of the sleeve hem, after adjusting it to make it closer fitting.
  • Cut out two rectangles of organza and two of tulle, using the sleeve edge measurement x double the desired length of the ruffle. Remember it’s going to be turned up. Stitch one organza layer and one tulle layer together at the edges and treat as one. Make the other piece the same way.
  • Sew the long edges together in a French seam to form a tube – gotta use a French seam.


  • Gather the top and bottom edge of the tubes. You’re probably thinking, “well, why doesn’t she fold up the tube and gathers all layers with one pass?” Well, it would have been too flat for the look I was going for. That is why I gathered the two edges of both sleeves separately.


  • One gathered edge was sewn right sides together to the sleeve edge. Before turning up the lower edge of the tube, I attached a strip of the knit fabric to it at the ruffled edge. Why?? Because tulle is scratchy, and I wanted a cleaner finish inside.
Sleeve on the left is turned under, but not on the right. Now I see that the “cloud” may end up being too big.
  • By now the length of the ruffle looks too long to me, so I chop it off after careful measuring. Chop, chop. I ran a stitching line as a marker before chopping off.


  • The lower gathered edge (with the knit strip) was turned up and basted inside the sleeve edge, covering the previous seam. (Hold on here! I off-set the turned up edge a little so some diagonal “fluff” forms in the sleeve. It’s looks cloudier that way). From the right side, the only way to neat finish, without the edge rolling over was to top stitch – I used the triple zig zag.

Finally, I think my clouds turned out skimpier than the original Roksanda dress, but I won’t be waving to the crowds anytime soon.


In the interest of honesty in blogging, I still have to finish the hem of the Renfrew top, but I have my sleeve clouds all done! And… I love how they turned out.

I have a little bit of the Swiss cotton knit leftover to replace the clouds with a plain ruffle, should I tire of the organza cloud. We’ll see.

What have you knocked off lately?  For yourself, of course.



8 thoughts on “Dress Detail of The (Election) Year

  1. Cute, cute + I liked the tutorial. I like to copy designers! Last year I liked a red cheetah print St John. They used the print for a top and a dress too. I bought a similar fabric at Fabric dot com and I recently used Loes Hinse’ funnel neck for my pattern to sew it up ( only a year late. lol). My pattern style was different from St. John, but the fabric was very similar. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/333477547380821555/


  2. From the DNC photo it almost looks like one of those bubble skirts they make for little skinny girls… a ‘tube’ on the inside with gathers on both top and bottom of the outer layer. You did a lovely job on your interpretation. Your price tag is better too!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s