Tailored Sleeve Draft
How To Draft A Tailored Sleeve.
This page discusses the reasoning and theory behind my tailored sleeve drafting methods, for those who find the conventional two piece sleeve drafting process a bit of a mystery.
Drafting any sleeve is a mystery for even experienced pattern cutters. Two piece tailored sleeves are even more mysterious. This is because most sleeve drafting systems do not offer any reasoning behind their formulae. Neither do they use the actual armhole the sleeve is meant for. I believe that it is more important to understand what you are doing than to just be able to copy a system without understanding.
Do you find that whenever you try to use a sleeve drafting system you find that the sleeve doesnt really turn out well? You dont really understand what you are doing or why. Often sleeve drafting systems are full of jargon and strange formulae. Almost as if it is meant to be a secret.
Some formulae include seam allowances in their drafts, which can confuse things even more. This is more true of tailoring drafts than pattern maker drafts. My sleeve drafts do not have seam allowances included.
What Are The Basic Measurements Required ?
Basic measurements that we need to construct a sleeve are :
How High Should The Sleeve Head Be ?
The sleeve head height is generally the first measurement to calculate. Normally a tailored sleeve would be around 4 cms shorter than the average armhole height as measured on the flat pattern. This may be adjusted for more or less ease. This represents the actual height of the armhole when it is in place on the body, including the shoulder pad.
How Wide Should The Sleeve Be ?
The bicep is the widest part of a sleeve, but the sleeve head width at its widest part is determined by the head height and the amount of ease required. The head width is normally a little narrower than the bicep width.
Why Does A Sleeve Head Have Ease ?
A sleeve head has ease to allow for the fact that the bicep stands wider than the shoulder. If it were not for the bicep the sleeve could just be as wide and as high as the armhole, with no ease at all. Instead of ease you could use pin tucks, or darts, but ease is the acceptable way.
How Much Ease Is In The Sleeve Head ?
This depends on the fabric and who is making the garment. Some fabrics will take much more ease than others. A factory made sleeve will likely have a limited amount of ease, while a hand tailored sleeve can be made with far more. As the ease is meant to allow for the bicep, most if not all of the ease is on the outer part of the sleeve. The armpit area does not need any ease at all.
Generally a tailored sleeve would have around 3 cms – 4 cms in total. Percentage wise a factory will normally use 6% – 8% of the total armhole. A made to measure jacket would use 10% – 12% of the total armhole circumference.
When a tailor sets a sleeve into an armhole, he may use a number of methods to get a large amount of ease into the sleeve. This may involve a lot of steam iron work.
A dressmaker can use the same methods, but may also use a piece of lofty bias that is stretched on to the sleeve head.
In most sleeve drafts, there is no ease allowed at the front armpit. The sleeve is normally constructed to be the same shape as the armhole at the base of the armhole. This means that there is no lift allowed for. The sleeve is made for an arm that is straight by the sides, rather than lifted at an angle.
The Sleeve Pitch.
Our arms tend to pitch forward, and we tend to move them more forward than back. So, we need to pitch our sleeves slightly forward too. A common fault with sleeves is that they pitch toward the back. Sometimes sleeves are cut deliberately to pitch forward, especially for people who have jobs that require lifting, driving, or riding. A jockey would be an extreme example.
Most sleeve drafts are made without any allowance for arm lift. The front scye and underarm are usually the same shape on the sleeve as on the body. My basic sleeve draft is the same. If you want to allow extra for sleeve draft, I follow up the basic draft with a special adjustment to allow for arm lift. This makes for a wider sleeve and bicep.
High Cut Armholes.
A lot of people think that if there is not enough allowance for arm lift that the armhole needs to be lowered. The opposite is in fact true. Lowering the armhole leads to more restriction and less mobility.
Ready to wear suits tend to have low cut armholes in order to fit as many people as possible. A high cut armhole may seem too tight for someone used to a lower cut, but does in fact allow for greater mobility of the arm, a slimmer body fit and a narrower sleeve.
Checking The Finished Pattern.
When you have finished your pattern, the first thing to check is that all the balance notches match up, and there is the correct amount of ease. Next it is important that when the sleeve is sewn together, all the seams run smoothly into each other. If there is not a smooth run on the pattern then the garment will not look right.
It is very important to check your balance notches. Generally a tailored sleeve requires six notches – Shoulder;Underarm; Front pitch; Back pitch; Front chest; Back blade.
My sleeve draft is comparable to the 50 – 50 English cut, where the top and under sleeves are similar in width. I have not allowed for a “false forearm” in my sleeve draft. The false forearm displaces the forearm seam further under the arm so as not to show. When this is done, the under seam will need to be stretched onto the upper seam, otherwise the front edge will want to follow a straight line, rather than a curved line.
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