In Threads#155, Denise Severson, a seamstress, alterations expert, and Association of Sewing and Design Professionals member, shares some of her techniques to make sleeves that fit larger biceps. Denise has developed a number of ways to add sleeve fullness attractively. She’s created garments for herself and for ASDP and Threads challenges. The story, “Bye Bye Biceps Blues” shares several of her methods, but this week and next, there will be additional techniques here at ThreadsMagazine.com
This sleeve variation is pieced from on-grain fabric blocks. There is extra ease, however, because the pieced sleeve is cut and set on the bias. Please note: You may still need to do the basic width alteration to the sleeve pattern. That alteration is explained in the Threads issue no. 155 article.
The Color-Block Bias Sleeve
Cut out fabric blocks on-grain. For a short sleeve, cut two of each blocks in the following sizes:
6-inch square light-colored
6 by 12-inch dark-colored
12 by 18-inch dark-colored
For a longer sleeve, simply calculate a piecing plan that will yield a section large enough for the pattern piece.
Begin piecing the fabric blocks together. Piece two mirror-image fabric sections, for the left and right sleeves. Sew the 6-inch-square blocks to the 6-inch side of the dark-colored blocks with 1/4-inch seam allowances. Press the seam toward the dark fabric. Sew the remaining block to the paired block unit along the 18-inch side. Press the seam allowance to the 18-inch long edge.
Cut out the sleeves. Find the true bias through the light square’s corners. Use a clear ruler and draw the line with a washable marker or chalk. This is the grain line for positioning the pattern piece. Center the sleeve cap along this line. The dark-to-dark piecing seam runs toward the sleeve front.
Proceed with sewing and finishing your garment.
Piece together three on-grain sections to form the sleeve fabric. The sample is shown aligned with the cutting board's true bias mark. Next, the sleeve is cut on the bias from the pieced fabric.
Cut the sleeve pattern from the pieced fabric. Use the light-colored square's corners to make sure you have the true bias.
The directions for the center front panel may be found in Convergence Quilts, by Ricky Tims (C&T Publishing, 2003).
Denise entered this dress in the Threads/Association of Sewing and Design Professionals' 2009 Seams Challenge. The sleeve components are cut and seamed on-grain, then the whole sleeve is cut on the bias. The bias cut creates a forgiving sleeve for larger biceps.