At the start of the class, we decided that a short poofy sleeve would be cuter than the long one in the original sample picture, and also that it fits better onto out 8.5×11″ sample sheets.
Because we adjusted the armscye of the block when we made the blouse foundation, we need to adjust the sleeve head to fit into the armscye.
Except…. When we walked the blouse curve against the sleeve head curve, it was impossible to make them fit together. The armscye was significantly larger than the sleeve head. This is not good, because it will not sew well.
When we say “walked the sleeve” or “walked the armscye”, we’re talking about physically placing the sleeve and body pieces together, starting at the under-arm end, and matching up the curves to check their lengths. It’s called walking because you have to do it in little steps. What you want is for your armscye/sleeve notches to match. After that, you want your sleeve to be a good inch larger (1/2″ in half scale) than the armscye it fits into. This gives you enough extra fabric to ease the sleeve into the armscye.
To make things work better, we revised the draft slightly:
Generally, the curves of both the body and sleeve in the underarm area (notch to seam) should be pretty darned similar. This makes them much easier to sew together. There are times when they’re slightly different, especially when you get into historical patterns, but we’ve mostly gotten this down to a science. We no longer do a lot of adding extra fullness or gusseting under the arm. It’s an awkward place to whole bunch of fabric when we mostly life our lives with our arms down at our sides, sitting at desks and using computers and things.
To finish the sleeve:
We haven’t bothered to put the sleeve extension piece onto this half scale piece, since we know we plan to shorten the sleeve. If you are doing this with a full size block with a darted elbow, this bottom line will go through the back half of the sleeve at the bottom. That’s fine; we’re squaring off the bottom.
Now for the fun part… Your curves will probably require some adjusting.
If your sleeve head is too large for your armscye, you have too much curve in the sleeve head. If it is too small for the armscye, you need to have more curve in your sleeve head.
Now we made some styling choices.
This is why it is important to only mark notches in the seam allowance. Anything that looks like a notch screams “Cut on this line, right up to the little cap at the end!” You don’t want to send that message inside your pattern if you’re not serious about having a cut there.
Our block’s bicep measurement was originally 7 1/8″. This already includes a little bit of ease. We are using 7 1/4″ for our band measurement. We plan to use this band with a 1/2″ button. This band will take up 1″ on the arm, but it’s folded up at the bottom so that there’s no raw edge and no hem.
This is an easy piece to draft. Start with a rectangle that is 7 1/4″ long by 2″ tall. Add a 1/2″ button extension to each side of the rectangle. (It is now 8 1/4″ long.) Mark your buttons/button holes 1/2″ from the bottom of the band. My students should all remember this from our simple vest pattern. We need to add notches to the band to indicate how it’s going to be attached to the sleeve. We could just add one to the band that indicates where the sleeve seam falls (at the center of the band), but this doesn’t help to make sure that the button side of the band is on the back of the arm and the buttonhole side is at the front. (Because you want the flap of the band to go backwards. Trust me. It looks weird otherwise.)
What we are going to do instead is to mark notches on both the band and the bottom of the sleeve, so that we can have front and back notches. We’re not gathering the sleeve in the underarm area, so we’ll use our notches to indicate where the gathers go as well. We’re going to put them pretty much right below the notches on the sleeve head – we used a 1 1/2″ measure from each end of the sleeve on the bottom line. On the band, the notches are located 1 1/2″ out from the center of the band. (Ahem. In retrospect, it would have been very appropriate to add two more notches to the band, indicating where the edges of the placket were expected. Whoops!)
Our tiny little placket is also a rectangle, 1 1/2″ long (2 x 3/4″) and 1/2″ wide, with a notch at 3/4″. The notch indicates the end of the placket slit, and the 1/2″ width gives us a finished folded band that is 1/4″ wide.
I’ve been following your series with interest and wanted to ask if you have any suggestions/links/historical examples for those who do want to add some extra fullness under the arm, without looking too awkward to the modern eye? As a woman with ‘statuesque’ shoulders binding in the upper arms is one thing I hit too often (and thus nearly always opt for puff sleeves).
Hi, Myth – Thanks for following! I’m hoping to start a series of historical black drafts, after I finish work on *dumdumDUM* a new block. ;) For the vast majority of body shapes, you don’t want add fullness under the arm. Where the extra fullness of your arm is, exactly, will determine what you want to do. Tf the fullness starts in the shoulder itself (ie, above the arm pit), then first off, I hear ya, sister. That’s one of the first places I have problems. You need extra ease through your sleeve head. Standard is 1″ (1/2″ or less on cheaply made clothes). Try altering your patterns to include 2 – 2 1/2″ (slash and spread the sleeve head, as we did in this post, and fade into the arm). That’s a lot of ease, so you’ll probably need to start you ease stitching 3/4 – 1″ before the normal notches. If you’re normal through the shoulder, and the fullness of your arm is mostly in the tricep area (“wings”), the sleeve head may be fine. You’ll need to widen the sleeve through the upper arm – again, find the offending section of sleeve, slash it and spread it, and fade back in to the rest of the sleeve. Hope that helps!
You’ll never believe this– but I found a phd thesis on developing a whole new system for sleeves. He’s trying to systemtize everything about set in sleeves. (I don’t think this is do-able for a costume designer…. yet!)
Wow! Thanks, Lucia – it’s going to take me a while to work through that one!
I figured I’d defer working through until I have a bodice well established. One needs a good armscye. But you can see that he’s working through the pattern literature and the engineering literature to try to do something a bit more holistic. So, he has a big literature review about all the sleeve draft recommendations pointing out similarities and differences. Then he works through geometry to get zero ease sleeves– also discussing how arm movement and biceps width on the draft interact with the crown. Then afterwards, he adds ease in the cap, relating that to how the cap actually looks in terms of rising ‘up’ — if that’s the word– relative to the no ease sleeve.
On a quick view, it looks interesting and he has mockups so it looks like it works. It also looks like something that would motivate people to write a program to figure out the points! (He’s very CAD oriented generally– coming from architecture.)