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Raglan with Structure

Threads #202, April/May 2019

The unusual treatment of the raglan sleeve shoulder in a vintage Leslie Fay double-knit wool dress makes the garment a tasteful standout. A clever pleat accents the shoulder and marries the structured shape of a set-in sleeve with a raglan style. The pleat has no visible seamline and is maintained by a fabric stay within the dress. It is further supported with a small shoulder pad.

A standard raglan sleeve is easy to sew and generally easy to fit. You can adapt a raglan-sleeve pattern to get the effect that is shown. Begin with a one-piece raglan pattern that includes a shoulder dart. The dart’s tip will be concealed inside the pleat, so the dart mimics a shoulder seam.

Try the process on a test sleeve to determine the desired pleat depth and any other adjustments needed. I recommend using a ponte knit to mimic the soft stability of the original double-knit wool. You may need to lengthen the sleeve to account for the fabric taken up in the pleat, so cut the test sleeve a little longer.

Details Book The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection

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  1. User avater
    mlranson | | #1

    This adaptation is so striking and pretty! Because I have terribly sloping shoulders, I tend to avoid raglan sleeves, even though I love their styling. I'm convinced this approach will enable the raglan to be a more accessible option for me! Now to find a raglan sleeve pattern with a shoulder dart!

  2. MerryAnn33 | | #2

    Aside from pinning lines 1 & 2, the PDF directions do not explain how to secure the pleat. Is it secured at the dart seam and tacked to the stay? The directions are very unclear.

  3. CarolFresia | | #3

    The pleat is formed by pulling the stay up toward the neck edge; you can pin the pleat at this point. Then, baste the stay to the raglan seams to hold it in place. When you sew the final raglan seams, the stay will be anchored in position, and this keep the pleat in its folded position. However, in some cases you make prefer to tack the pleat in place to the shoulder dart's seam allowance, for added security.
    Carol Fresia
    Threads Senior Technical Editor

  4. CarolFresia | | #4

    Hello, mlranson,
    For a tunic that has a raglan sleeve with shoulder dart, try Vogue 8952. You can easily do the same thing with a raglan sleeve that has a full overarm seam instead of a dart. This is nice if you want more opportunities to fit the raglan sleeve. One that I like, which has a neckline similar to the example dress on the back cover, is the dress in the ensemble pattern Vogue 9351.
    Carol Fresia
    Threads Senior Technical Editor

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