Pig in a Poke Sleeve Patterns

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.  sleeve

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.






About jay

I design and draft patterns
This entry was posted in Pattern Making, Techie Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pig in a Poke Sleeve Patterns

  1. mrsmole says:

    I have had a few “go-rounds” with Peggy Sagers over her patterns and lack of fitting and poor design. She now has a sewing show in cable TV and I find myself shouting at the TV screen when she is “expertly” pinning patterns to fit her model who resembles my client Nancy in shape. Like many pattern makers and experts who have blogs with glowing tutorials…they have no idea what to do with a body that is not a perfect size 10 with perfect posture. Curved back, dropping boobs…maybe let’s not mention that irregularity in a class or show. Fashion guru Roberta Carr always drafted sleeves using the 4 section method and could make them look gorgeous on less than perfect women and even make the cuff area drape just perfectly and have the curve of the arm hang straight too. Love your drawing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found this very reassuring, I’ve never found sleeves easy and as an amateur I’ve always assumed it’s my lack of experience. I do prefer trainers to acknowledge that something is difficult but suggest that you can learn the basics rather than say ‘it’s easy’. I go back to – I’ve never found sleeves easy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jay says:

    Sleeves can be harder to fit than trousers.


  4. Morgan says:

    Lately that sinking heart feeling has been increasingly familiar – most recently encountered with Vogue, Butterick and Silhouette (Peggy Sagers), deep sigh.

    Of the sleeve cap block drafting methods I’ve used, I find the 4 section method you explained is logical and is the most straight forward to remember and apply (also used by Natalie Bray Chapt.7, Dress Pattern Designing and Ann Ladbury Complete Pattern Designing) . In comparison, Shoben pages 23-24 http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781136076220_sample_484640.pdf starts by tracing off the armhole shape from the bodice block and trying to follow the list of steps quires a lot of concentration and staying power. However, the Patrick Taylor Low Crown Sleeve method shown on page 32 looks interesting – I wondered if it may be useful when making a quick sleeve for a sleeveless pattern when a personally fitted block isn’t immediately available. I haven’t tried it


    • jay says:

      Thanks for the link Morgan. Shoben’s method is a bit like that used in Aldrich. I use Aldrich a lot for blocks, but think the 4 section method is more intuitive if you are trying to sort out someone else’s sleeve pattern.


  5. Sarah says:

    Are there any patterns out there drafted with an asymmetric sleeve? I’m not all that confident about altering patterns or drafting my own. A pattern that was already somewhat likely to fit me in the sleeve region would be an easier starting point for sure.


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 )

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s