Sunday, September 28, 2014

I have learned something important regarding sleeves! A Denim shirt: Kwik Sew 3555

Another September make and another entry in the Fabric Stash contest.  This bit of denim has been sitting around since November waiting for me to get inspired.  I said in the title of this post that I have learned something important about sleeves.  First, I must give some background:

Almost 2 weeks ago, Mrs. Mole wrote a post about poorly fitting sleeves.  I was immediately reminded of the very nice email she sent to me in November after seeing my denim dress where my bodice adjustments forced me to take out a lot of extra sleeve cap ease.  Summarizing her email:  "Meigan, I think that you have removed too much in the sleeve cap as you have drag lines pointing to a need for more height."  She also suggested making a sleeve in gingham so I could see both the horizontal and vertical grain lines.  I was so relieved I got something wearable from the dog's dinner I made out of that dress that I wasn't too stressed.  Then the whole topic dropped out of my mind.

Fast forward to September...I made 2 woven tops (NL 6808 & NL 6407) where I unknowingly adjusted the sleeve incorrectly (again) and had sleeve caps that were not high enough. Then the topic of sleeve caps came up on her blog, and it all came rushing back.

Time to listen to the expert.  I bought gingham at Joann's and made a sleeve with lots of extra cap height for my KS 3555 per Mrs. Mole's suggestions.

You know what? Mrs. Mole was absolutely right.  I drew horizontal and vertical lines on the sleeves in marker.  Here is the sleeve cut in gingham and pinned in place as drafted.  Check it out:

Holy Cow!  Look how that horizontal line is pulled upward!!

So I unpinned the sleeve and let it drop so that the horizontal line becomes horizontal:

Horizontal line is horizontal!
Close up of Sleeve Cap
Each gingham square is 1/4" wide, so we can see that the new seam line should be 1.25" HIGHER at the top of the sleeve cap!   I did not expect it to be that much!!  Shouldn't these sleeves be drafted better???
I redrew my pattern piece adding the extra height needed at the sleeve cap.

Revised pattern piece

So I cut out my denim for my shirt using this revised sleeve.  You know what?  It fits so much better.  I have a full range of motion, and there is no pulling across my shoulder or upper arm.  Woo Hoo!!

Ok, so back to Kwik Sew 3555.  I bought this shirt to make with Craftsy's "The Classic Tailored Shirt" class.  I haven't finished watching the class, but I made this shirt anyway, because I like to (wait for it) "sew on the edge!"  (ha ha ha)  I made the long sleeve version, added a bust dart per "Fit for Real People", and added a sleeve placket from this Thread's magazine article.

On me:

 and on the dressform:

I added the bust dart for shaping and I may add darts in the back as well to remove some of the fullness.  One thing I have noticed is that the shirt is slightly snug where it hits my high hip.  I think that if I were to add a side slit, that slight pulling at the bust would go away.

So here is the important lesson I learned:  Not all sleeves are drafted well!!  When trying a new pattern, make a muslin of the sleeve in gingham.  Cut it out with lots of extra sleeve cap height, mark the grain lines, pin or baste it in, and see what happens!

For the record: I never doubted Mrs. Mole's diagnosis, I just wanted to prove it for myself.


  1. This is a great suggestion. I really like your shirt too. x

  2. Thanks for the helpful info! I never really gave much thought to sleeves either but I can see how correct sleeves have a big impact. I'm guessing the movement is much easier in the sleeve at the shoulder now too? Also, I have bust drag lines to my hip too and I never put it together that it may be a high hip issue. Thank you!
    Great shirt too!

    1. It was probably more of a 'high booty' issue than a 'high hip', but you get the gist... :)

  3. Mrs. Mole certainly knows what she's talking about. I've seen (and worn) sleeves like that but didn't have the know-how to identify the problem. Seeing it in gingham is a real eye opener.

  4. So proud you posted this... I knew some sleeves were not right. but didn't know why or how to fix it.. Mrs. Mole's suggestion of the gingham check is excellent.
    Love your new denim shirt.. Happy sewing.

  5. Yes, adding sleeve height is not what many people know - I did, I have this information in one of my books. I don't always bother, depending on my mood. Some shirts do have this height, and some don't - from now on, you will just be able to look at a pattern and assess whether the sleeve will work.

  6. The gingham really helps to make it clear what changes need to be made. I will be using gingham in future to sort out sleeve fitting issues. Thanks for this post I feel I am learning a lot about fitting from your experiences.


I love your comments and I read every single one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...