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Sleeve alteration

franma | Posted in Fitting on

Hello to the sewing universe. I recently made a new cover for my dress form to more closely represent my ever changing post 55 body. My dream is to have a Channel type jacket that fits just me. I used Vogue pattern 7975. Drew the original pattern on tracing paper and then pinned the pattern sections to my dress form so that I could alter them to my measurements. Everything has worked great until I came to the sleeve. I had to move the shoulder seam on the bodice 1inch forward and remove 1/2 inch above the bust and 1/2 inch at the waist. I lowered the bustline 1 inch. The sleeve cap had to be redrafted 1inch forward as per instructions in Threads issue May 1999 # 82. When I tried to insert the sleeve in the newly shaped armhole, it looks terrible. The sleeve cap is taut with wrinkles in the front and tension in the elbow. There is excess fabric that can’t be eased in the front on the sleeve cap and even more in the back just past the top of my shoulder. When I lay the under sleeve on top of the side back and side front bodice matched at the side seam, I can see that the arm scye in no way matches the curve of the newly designed arm scye of the bodice. How do I design a new arm scye for the two piece sleeve? Is there an article in a past Threads that tells you how to draft a sleeve for a changed armscye.  


  1. mem | | #1

    hello . I wonder whether you took the same amount of fabric out of the sleeve cap to correspond to the length you took out above the bust?? It sounds as if that might account for the excess fabric you have to ease in . You need to get your sleeve notches matching again on both bodice and sleeve.Start with the side seam  and underam seam or where it would be on the two piece sleeve.Pin them together at the notches and that should show you where the excess is in the sleeve . You should be able to pin it out across your sleeve cap and ease the rest .  I think that the dot on the bodice shoulder point can just be replaced where it was . When you were moving the shoulder forward why was that ?. Do you have a round back ?. Your hem needs to be level across the back if it hitches up in the centre you need to add in across the center  back rather than move your shoulder seam forward.

     When you moved you shoulder forward did you take length off the front bodice shoulder and add it to the back ? Thats how it should be done I think. I havent got my books with me right now but I really recommend the Palmer Pletch book ,Fit for Every Body. It use s real bodies to demonstrate how a problem looks and how it is fixed . VERY good.  Hope i have shed some light and not just confused you more !!

    1. franma | | #2

      Hi, Thanks for your suggestions, I will go back over everything and see if I can spot the problem. To answer your question, yes I have rounded shoulders and my bust is one inch lower than it used to be. I have always been short waisted in the front with my waist line being one inch longer in the c.b. I can't wear even a sleeveless sweater without it pulling up in the back. Last night I was looking through my past issues of Threads and located # 61 from Nov 1995. It's about refining a sleeve to match an altered armscye. None of my friends like to sew so I will attempt this my self. Thank you again

      1. mem | | #3

        What you need to do is let some length into your upper back so that your hem is even across the back. You need to slash your pattern about 3 inches down from the back neck and cut cross the back to the sleeve seam but NOT through it then open it up the amount you are hitched up at the back . This will alter your back but not the sleeve s circumference  so you wont need to alyer the sleeve at all . put some tissue paper in the gap and try it on. With your fit issues get the Fit For Every Body book It is so useful and worth the monney several times over in my view.

        1. franma | | #4

          Thank you so much for your suggestion. The line of reasoning that I have been following is from the new cover that I have constructed for my twenty year old dress form. It does not have arms. When I put the new cover on it fits me exactly as I am at present. I want to make a Chanel style jacket for myself and used Vogue #7975. I applied each piece of the pattern and altered each one matching all of the fitting points. When I put on the bodice which I made up in a muslin, I cant' believe how nicely it fits me. I constructed the two piece sleeve after moving the sleeve cap forward by the amount (1 inch) that the form shoulder seam showed that I had to. When I applied the sleeves they did not hang properly with lots of wrinkles and tension in the elbows. I have thin arms and couldn't figure out why this was happening. I went through my past issues of THREADS and in issue 61 from November 1995, I found an article in the FITTING Section that describes how to fit a sleeve after the armscye has been altered. I followed the advice and saw that I had way too much fabric in the upper sleeve. After pin fitting I could see a tremendous improvement.  I followed the advice about slashing the pattern and redrawing the back sleeve cap. I have presently redrafted the sleeve and am about to cut out another muslin. I'm hoping this is the answer. Luckily, I am very patient and am willing to keep learning. I just wish I had a twin so that things that you want to create and wear could happen in a more timely way. Does the book that you mentioned show you how to draft a sleeve or is it always about altering from a commercial pattern? 


          1. mem | | #5

            I dont have that copy of Threads but it sounds like a good one .

            No this book is about commercial pattern alteration but I have found it really good. I am in a similarly lonely position to you withn regard to help with fitting. I do have Winifred Aldriches  book on Pattern making as weel. Its very good but is metric which isnt a problem to me as I am in Australia. I am making a Chanel Jacket at the moment as well . Are you doing yours withnthe quilting and all?? 

          2. franma | | #6

            I will use a Boucle or any loosely woven fabric that I can find, fabric stores in my part of Virginia are rather disheartening. I will follow the advice from Threads # 121. I don't mind the hand sewing. I always weight vents on skirts, jackets and dresses and see the difference in the way they hang. Instead of buying weights I just use coins (25 cents). I have used curtain chains in the backs of other jackets I have made as I always launder or hand wash fabric before I proceed. Don't like dry cleaners and the havoc they wreak on my creations. With the chain on the inside of hem don't have to remove before hand washing. I will let you know how my new sleeve works out. 

          3. mem | | #7

            Sounds good I am making mine out of a boucle which i have had for 5 years and using the instructions which Susan Khalje gave us a few issues ago. Its going well so far. I am using a Vogue pattern with a 3 piece sleeve which I havent done before so that will be interesting.I look forward to hearing from you

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