I nailed my colours to the mast on the set in sleeve pattern issue last post. But how to put right a bad job ? Peggy Sagers says “Sleeves are so simple”. Not sure I agree with that, (or much of the rest of the video)
Sleeve drafting is at the complicated end of pattern making. It was surprising to see the contestants in Episode 7 of the Great British Sewing Bee series 2 landed with the problem of drafting sleeves for a sleeveless rtw dress. Lynda was the only one to attempt a set in sleeve, the others were a bit more savvy in interpreting the challenge loosely. Do you think of sleeve drafting as a sewing challenge? My heart still sinks when I pull a stinker of a sleeve pattern out of an envelope. Its often harder to redo than draft from scratch. Sleeves are tricky, the arm articulates, and not in a symmetrical way .
You need some pattern measurements first:-
The distance round the armhole, tape measure on the edge
The distance between the underarm points on the sleeve, CD in the diagram, Top Arm
The total distance round the sleeve top
The distance along the vertical centre line of the sleeve from the Top Arm line to the high point of the sleeve crown, AB in the diagram, Depth of Crown
This is how you might see them relating to each other and body measurements:-
Top Arm , about 2 inches or 5 cms bigger than the measurement on you round your arm, taken high up close to the armpit. Depth of Crown, about one third of the Top Arm measurement, Armhole or Armscye about 4-5 inches or 10-12cms bigger than Top Arm, distance round the top of the sleeve about an inch, 2-3 cms bigger than the armhole.
These are ballpark figures – a coat sleeve needs to be wider than a dress sleeve, some styles sit higher on the shoulder so have slightly more ease in the sleeve head, some lower, having a smaller depth of crown and less ease. If the pattern measurements roughly correspond with this plan, its at least halfway there.
Next you might check the shape of the sleeve head. As mentioned last post, it shouldn’t be symmetrical. Fold the sleeve in four vertically, open it out and check the sleeve head. Drawing straight lines between the points helps to evaluate the shape of the curves.
If you’ve been landed with one of those inexplicably symmetrical sleeves, you might want to try redrawing the curves to give yourself a better fitting line.
Those points where the creases are make convenient balance marks, back, front and the centre one which lines up with the shoulder. Now is the moment to walk the pattern round the armhole and check if its looking good, and the amount of ease is reasonable, repositioning notches on the bodice as necessary.
This much work should get you to a reasonable working pattern stage.