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Fitting Plus-Size Sleeves

Expert pattern solutions to flatter fuller arms

Threads #185, June/July 2016
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Kathleen Cheetham’s article from Threads #185 (June/July 2016) describes how to best fit sleeves for women with fuller arms. She writes:

A basic blouse with set-in sleeves is a classic that many women want to wear. For plus-sized women with very full arms, however, this fundamental garment is often difficult to fit, because the set-in sleeves are usually too slim. Many plus-sized women have biceps measuring 16 inches in circumference or more, and commercial patterns not drafted for fuller figures don’t accommodate such measurements. In this article, I will address the set-in sleeve and its armscye and show how to achieve a smooth and comfortable fit for a fuller arm. I’ll also show you how to avoid pattern-fitting pitfalls that end in frustration.

Before tackling a sleeve’s fit, you must get the bodice fit correct. Sometimes, sleeve complaints have nothing to do with the sleeve at all but are…

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  1. TigerB | | #1

    While this article is very interesting, I feel like it totally dodges the question of fitting very full arms. I have very large upper arms (19 inches!), and I don't want to turn every sleeve into a flutter sleeve. Sometimes I still need a plain sleeve.

    If I need to add three or more inches to a sleeve (wince), I have only been able to get the split and spread method to work (, and then I still have trouble with the sleeve cap most of the time. Have any other techniques to offer?

    Anyway. I wear a lot of knit tops. You can see why.

  2. eboli | | #2

    Sorry, but the picture on page 51 shows a very bad armscye. Look at the fold in the armpit! That mustn't happen. No way! Taking away fabric from the front and adding to the back is for flat-busted women only. Full-busted women like the lady in the picture need the contrary and the armscye should be much nearer to the arm.

    The best way to shape an armscye is to cut the pieces with more seam allowance than usual (about 4 cm), mark the original seam lines with thread, baste the torso and chalk the armscye. Transfer the new seamline to the pattern, add seam allowance if you use a pattern where it's included.

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