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altering sleeve cap + grain

Chase | Posted in Fitting on

Hi everyone–
I’ve finally got a sloper that fits really well except for the sleeve. I had to move the shoulder point forward a quarter inch. I assume I should move the match point on the sleeve cap the same amount. My queston is, do I then change the grain line so that it “points” to the new shoulder point? Will that screw up the rest of the sleeve? Thanks for any help! Centime


  1. jandheurle | | #1

    I make a similar adjustment to all my patterns and then adjust the sleeve so that the shoulder point is exactly halfway between the underarm seam. In order to accomplish this you must lengthen the curve on the back of the sleeve and shorten the front without reducing the cap height. A flexible ruler is useful for this maneuver. Since the amount you have moved your shoulder seam forward is minimal, this should not be difficult. I move my shoulder seam forward quite a bit and it took me a long time to figure out what to do about my sleeve. My new sleeve pattern looks weird, but goes in perfectly.

    1. Chase | | #2

      Thanks, Jan! I'll try this.

    2. SewNancy | | #3

      I also need to move the shoulder forward but I am having trouble understanding what you do to the sleeve. Can you clarify further?


      1. jandheurle | | #8

        I am sorry I wasn't very clear. If you fold your sleeve pattern exactly in half, your shoulder point should be right in the middle. I prefer this because I like to fold my sleeves along the bottom seam when I iron them and I do not mind a crease along the top. This should also be your grain line, although you can cut your sleeve on the bias if you wish. (I beleive there is a Threads article about this not too long ago.) Since you have moved your shoulder point forward, you now need to increase the amount of ease on the back of the sleeve cap and decrease it on the front. Do this by adjusting the curve of the cap but do not reduce the height of the cap. The back of the cap will have a more pronounced curve and the front will be straighter. This works for me. There are many other solutions to this problem. Some people allow the seamline of the sleeve to rotate toward the back of the arm and don't bother to match it to the bodice side seam. Others do not care if the front and back of the sleeve are not the same amount. It took me a long time to figure this out. As I say, my sleeve pattern looks weird, but goes in perfectly. I recently helped a neighbor make a sloper and we made the same adjustment for her.

        1. Debbie4 | | #9

          You may also want to try a two part sleeve if you find that the hang from the shoulder causes the grainline to get wonky.  Good luck!

        2. SewNancy | | #10

          This really doesn't work if you have a 2 piece sleeve, as in a jacket.  I also don't find that I have to change the match pt at all, just matching to the new shoulder line works. 


  2. FitnessNut | | #4

    If I understand your question correctly, you have moved the shoulder point forward on the bodice without changing the circumference of the armscye. The only thing you then need to change is the notch at the cap of the sleeve that matches to the shoulder seam. Move it toward the front the same amount that you moved the shoulder point. This preserves the ratio of ease in the sleeve cap and keeps it divided evenly between the front and back. No other adjustment should be necessary, including the grainline.

    1. Chase | | #5

      Hi Sandy--thanks for your help. I see how that change would make the sleeve cap fit OK, but what about the grain? If the shoulder point on the sleeve cap is off center, won't that make the grain be slightly off? I'm getting a slight diagonal pull from the cap (toward the back). Centime

      1. FitnessNut | | #6

        Normally, the shoulder matchpoint on the sleeve is not on the grainline....it is typically slightly towards the front of the sleeve, so this really shouldn't be an issue. This point is placed on the sleeve by matching the armscye of the bodice to the sleeve, marking the shoulder (of the bodice) and determining how much ease there is left over (dependent on style). The shoulder point is placed in the centre of the ease allowance. Clear as mud?However, if you are making this up in a muslin and things are pulling, an adjustment may be necessary. I suggest releasing your stitches in this area, or from notch to notch through the sleeve cap, and rotating the cap in the armhole until things are hanging correctly. Then mark your shoulder point on your muslin and transfer this to your pattern.Rotating the sleeve cap isn't an unusual customization technique. Things such as posture, the angle at which we hold our arms, and the location of fleshy bits are individual and can affect the way a sleeve sits in the armhole when on the body. If there is a great deal of strain, the entire sleeve cap can be shifted to the front or back, much like a previous poster described. From your description, though, it seems like more of a minor problem, so I would attempt to rotate the sleeve cap first, before getting into more complicated adjustments.Hope this helps.

        1. Chase | | #7

          Thank you! That's really useful.

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