…besides that sleeves are evil and the bane of every seamstress’ existence…
|The boneyard of fabric scraps…and sleeves. At least they can become trim for the gown, and not go totally to waste.|
I’ve been obsessive about this new Robe a l’Anglaise, getting the fit just right, and settling, once and for all, the issue of armscyes and sleeves.
Sleeves of one cut or another have gone on and off this bodice countless times in the last three days. Finally last night I decided to crack the nut and figure out what the hell is up with sleeves…and how to beat them at their evil games.
So here are some things I have learned about sleeves in the past 24 hours…
- 17 inches seems to be the magic number for the circumference of the armscyes. (PLEASE tell me if I’ve got this wrong, master pattern drafters!) I measured the armscyes of a handful of my ready-made patterns, and they all ended up to be 17 inches.
- The length of the seam line of the sleeve head should match that 17 inches, if the sleeve cap is to be set in smoothly, a la 18th century.
- If the armscye binds, drop the underarm seam – picked up from The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns.
- It’s better (for me) to have a high and narrow sleeve head rather than a long and shallow one. (though I am not totally sure of the benefits and drawbacks of both, at this point)
- Always add ease at the side seams. Always. Do it.
- Mark the grain lines of the sleeve (vertical line from shoulder point, horizontal line at bicep) before basting the mock-up to the bodice, and trying on – the vertical line should hang nice and straight from the shoulder. If it doesn’t, rotate the sleeve cap fore or aft until the line is straight. For me, I have shoulders that roll forward, so I needed to rotate my sleeve cap forward in the armscye.
|“The Perfect Fit” on the left, and a marked-up sleeve toile on the right.|
I’ve gone through four versions of this Anglaise sleeve – two of them in final fabric – and I think I *finally* have a working sleeve, but I have to be honest – sleeves are evil, horrible things and I still don’t fully understand them. If anybody out there has any tips, tricks, and insights for drafting perfect sleeves, please share them in the comments!