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Setting in sleeves

Stillsewing | Posted in Patterns on

I recently found this fantastic site and as a result have been inspired to restart sewing again. I have just finished the jacket in Vogue 8206 and taken a vow never to use Vogue patterns again. Even though I reduced the fullness in the top of the sleeves as suggested by Sandra Betzina in her Fast Fit book, they are still too full and tend to give the “home made” look to the garment. I will have another go at pressing the fullness out but I would love to know what patterns other people use and how they get around this problem.

Over the years I have noticed this problem in setting in sleeves has increased. Years ago an amount of fullness was fashionable and acceptable but not so nowadays.

Any suggestions! please.


  1. solosmocker | | #1

    Is it a designer pattern and if so who? Does the photo on the pattern show a fuller sleevehead? Just wondering if this was intentional on the designers part. Isn't Sandra Betzina wonderful? She has an answer to every issue. I am sorry there was so much fullness you couldn't make it work. Sounds like maybe you could do a muslin of the sleeve before you cut into that next piece of fabric. Good luck. You seem determined and I admire that.

    1. Stillsewing | | #2

      Dear Solosmocker Thanks for your interest. The pattern is a simple "very easy Vogue" one, nothing complicated. Lovely unfussy style which is good as I used embroidered linen for the two piece ( I wouldn't call it a suit). The pattern envelope did not have a photo just a sketch and shows quite tailored sleeves in it, hence my disappointment. You are right on two points; should have used a muslin and Sandra Betzina is great. Stillsewing

      1. jjgg | | #3

        Commercial patterns these days are very poorly made, and the American "big 4" are the worst of the worst. They have been adding way to much ease in the sleeve cap, who knows why. The match points on the darts don't always match up, they add the 'ease' to the back shoulder instead of putting a dart in because its easier to draft that way. They are shapeless the seam lengths don't always match up, and they generally don't fit.So its not your imagination that the sleeve is getting harder to put it, its lazy and poor pattern drafting that is the problem.A jacket or coat that is made form a looser weave of wool can accomodate 3 - 4 inches of ease, but a shirt from a thinner shirting type of fabric - cotton, poly, silk, linen etc needs only 1 - 1/2 inches of ease, the patterns are frequently drafted with quite a bit more than that.

        1. Stillsewing | | #4

          Thanks for the reassurance. Sometimes you begin to feel you're beginning to lose it and you do need to talk about these things.

  2. ringadal | | #5


    I am having the same problems with my sleeves.  I am sewing for my 3 year old daughter, and have ended up with puffy sleeves when they were meant to be tailored.  I ended up putting in the ease over most of the sleeve rather than between the two ease markings which did help, but they weren't perfect.  I have also found that even though I selected the pattern size based on my new measurements (after having two children, my waist has grown, but not my hips, figure that :) ) the result was too big, and sloppy looking.  Has anyone found any good pattern companies? 


    1. Ralphetta | | #6

      I don't usually have that problem, but i have very square shoulders.  If I remember correctly, there have been articles in Threads that suggested the necessity of paring down the sleeve cap for some patterns.  Maybe one of the readers can remember which issue, etc.  In other words, it isn't always due to incorrect sewing.

      1. Stillsewing | | #7

        As I mentioned earlier Sandra Betzina referred to this sleeve cap fullness in her book "Fast Fit". It seems that it is a common problem. She shows how to reduce the fullness. In this instance I did not reduce the pattern enough as I felt that if I took that much off a printed pattern that there would not be enough cap left to fill the armhole!

        It was not always like this, as years ago, my mother who always drafted her own patterns was always envious at the speed with which I could set in sleeves. In those days I always used either McCalls or Vogue patterns but sometimes Style and Butterick. Anyway maybe someone can advise us on a standard sleeve that we could always use and ignore the one supplied the pattern or learn how to draft a sleeve pattern to suit the garment.Another thought how do the Marfly patterns score on sleeves?

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