We don’t watch television as a general rule but the other night I caught the tail-end of the famous “puffy shirt” Seinfeld episode at my in-laws’ house. Most assuredly, that puffy shirt was just awful which is why it was such a funny episode destined for “instant classic” status.
Not to get technical, or anything but I would actually classify his shirt as a “bishop shirt.” But that, of course, wouldn’t produce the same sort of snickers and laughs.
A bishop sleeve is a long sleeve that is wider at the bottom than at the top and gathered into a cuff. While the top of the sleeve is usually akin to a set-in sleeve, it can also be gathered or slightly puffed. The primary difference between a puff sleeve gathered into a cuff and a bishop sleeve gathered at the armhole is that a puff sleeve is short and the bishop is long.
An easy way to think about the construction of a bishop sleeve is to imagine a sleeve in the shape of a bell. But I imagine that homemakers quickly discovered that the bell-shaped sleeve got caught in everything so they started putting them into cuffs to retain the general shape but to provide greater control.
Being away from home, I don’t have access to my usual resources but my impression is that this type of sleeve first became popular in the mid-19th century and reached its fullness apogee (isn’t that a great word?) at the end of that century. It became popular again during the mid-20th century. In old movies, you can see the starlets wearing garments featuring this sleeve made from gauzy-like fabrics.
Do you have any patterns/garments that you would classify as having bishop sleeves? Have I left out any important information?