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Three Sleeve Varieties for a Gorgeous Garment

Design three high-impact variations
Threads #196, April/May 2018
It’s easy to adapt a straight sleeve to add volume. Sew this bishop sleeve in sheer organza for extra drama. Pattern: Simplicity 8254, modified. Fabric: cotton sateen and silk organza, EmmaOneSock.com.

In recent seasons, the sleeve has been a focal point of fashion. Add one of these unique sleeve varieties to a basic blouse or dress, and you have a showstopping garment. It’s easy to design your own sleeves based on a simple, one-piece sleeve pattern. I’ll show you how to add volume to create three romantic and dramatic sleeves styles, suitable for many woven fabrics. As you create these variations, you’ll learn patternmaking skills you can use to try even more designs. These are just a starting point for your creativity.

No matter how you reinvent a garment sleeve—whether with one of the designs featured or your own original style—be sure to plan the construction. It’s important to make a muslin test garment; this tells you whether the proportions are correct and serves as a construction trial. For the sleeves that follow, the assembly is straightforward: Longer seamlines are gathered to fit shorter adjacent seamlines, creating the intended puffy fullness. Sew the hems, cuffs, or facings in your preferred manner. Put the sleeve pieces together, then attach the sleeve to the bodice.

How to get started

Begin with a one-piece long-sleeve pattern that goes with your garment, preferably one that is straight or slightly tapered. You’ll use it as a starting point for the design process. Because it was drafted to fit the garment, even after your revisions, it will still work.

Getting started patterns

Prepare a one-piece sleeve pattern

1/ Eliminate the elbow dart. If the pattern has a dart, fold it across the sleeve width.

2/ Mark the stitching line. Measure in from the cutting line the seam allowance width. Also mark the finished hemline.

3/ Copy the pattern. Lay the pattern atop a sheet of paper. Anchor it with weights, and run a tracing wheel…

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