A New Way to Fit SleevesDraft for the arm, then drape the shoulder
I long for an haute couture sleeve. That is, I crave a sleeve that is custom-fitted to my arm and shoulder and that works within the garment’s armscye. After years—or a lifetime—of wearing clothes made to fit a standardized consumer, many of us have forgotten what a correct fit is. There are so many different bodies, arms, sizes, and shapes, we shouldn’t be critical of a pattern or a ready-to-wear garment that doesn’t fit. After all, commercial patterns depend on average dimensions, and nobody is average. We need to learn how to get a pattern to fit well, and then use the results to improve and simplify our sewing.
A good fit is a comfortable arm covering that fits beautifully into a bodice that conforms to the body. Extra wrinkles and baggy or tight areas are all symptoms of an improper fit. Comfort is a must. It doesn’t come from making a sleeve bigger—it comes from the right fit. As my friend Kenneth D. King says of fitting, “It’s either too big, too small, or the wrong shape.” Most of us need to make some changes to a standard pattern to get the shape right.
Multi-size patterns are helpful for some aspects of fitting, but blending between sizes isn’t the best solution for sleeves. Instead, I’ll show you where a sleeve’s fit can go wrong, how to measure the body and draft a sleeve, and, finally, how to drape the sleeve cap when attaching it to the bodice on the body. This ensures a truly custom sleeve with an attractive and comfortable fit. Once you’ve established this sleeve, use it as a template for future garments.
Anatomy and the pattern
The design and cut of garments and patterns…