Thursday, January 17, 2013

On Sleeves

Who hasn't been working on a project and had a moment where the sleeves just weren't cooperating and then wished that all clothes throughout all history had been sleeveless, chilly, goosebumpy arms and all?

As I was working on my 1780s blue silk jacket (inspired by a 1790s jacket that I own, naturally) today, I noticed something--as in all my other bodices, the sleeve cap didn't match the armscye. This didn't bother me as it's what I always do. I had tried the jacket on, and was happy with the sleeve fit, so knew the mismatching wasn't an issue.

Every fabric behaves differently. Even the same fabric behaves tends to behave differently when made into two different sleeves--it's rare that I set two sleeves exactly the same. They usually want to do something a little different! I firmly believe in close enough when it comes to patterning sleeves. Get a sleeve that pretty much fits, and fix it in the final fabric.

Now, I wish I had a slightly less messy fabric than this brocaded taffeta to demonstrate this!

Blue Silk Jacket Sleeve

You can see the shoulder strap and the sleeve cap is extending past it on the right. Initially, as I usually do, I matched the edge of the sleeve cap to the edge of the armscye edge. Then I tried it on (I recommend parallel pinning to do this!) and looked at where the sleeve bulged, and then pulled the extra fabric in.

Blue Silk Jacket Sleeve

In this picture, I'm folding the sleeve strap into its normal place.

Blue Silk Jacket Sleeve

And here's the sleeve strap folded into place. I will trim the seam allowances to match, especially since in this jacket they're going to be pressed towards the bodice and the lining will cover the raw edge!

Blue Silk Jacket Sleeve

And just another angle of the same. The strap is on top, with the top of the sleeve extending below.

I hope this is a helpful technique--I know when I started out and thought that I had to match the cap to the armscye perfectly, I had quite a bit of difficulty with sleeves. Now that I don't try for that, sleeves are no more daunting than anything else!

9 comments:

  1. Now see my problem is I can get the top too look fine but then I can't live my arms!

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    1. that should be LIFT my arms are in fact alive.

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    2. Some styles you just can't lift your arms in--mid 1800s ball gowns, for example. A really closely fitted armscye helps with arm lifting in many styles though. It really needs to be right up at your underarm. I don't know if you know this already, but just in case you don't, I thought I'd share :)

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  2. LOVE your fabric as always! I want to see the whole jacket!
    Mary
    http://anhistoricallady.blogspot.com

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  3. So what you've done is to basically lower and trim the top of the sleeve cap?

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  4. I'm no expert at sleeves and the math involved, but in school I learned that the measurement around the whole sleeve cap should be about an inch larger than that of your armscye, and the rest gets eased in. I always try and pin only where the stitching will be because if I pin outside the stitch line, it affects how much you can ease in (because the seam allowance is technically more fabric, it needs to be left to do it's own thing, if that makes any sense).

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    1. That's way more technical than the way I sew! I don't draft new sleeves for each bodice I make, so getting one close to size and then adjusting it for each bodice works well for me.

      It's interesting to hear a more official way of doing it :)

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