Online Patternmaking Classes
by Don McCunn
Sleeve Variations Home Page   ►  Week One

Creating the Sleeve Sloper

This first week is about taking measurements, drafting, and fitting the sleeve sloper.



Measurements are the beginning of the process. While measurements are the starting point, do not worry too much about making them overly precise. The Biceps measurement, #10, is vital in verifying that there is adequate fabric in the pattern and the Palm measurement, #12 is vital in verifying that you can get your hand through the sleeve.

To quickly and easily locate specific measurements they are referenced by the numbering system used in the second edition of my book How to Make Sewing Patterns (2016). You can download the chart to your computer as an interactive PDF file that can be saved, printed, and shared across multiple devices. Instructions for doing this are included in the PDF file. Record the measurements taken here in a copy of the Measurement Chart.

You will create the sloper pattern based on the measurements for the arm described on pages 22 through 25, 2nd ed. (pages 18 through 20, 1st ed.). The videos below show how to take all these measurements.

Measuring with a Helper

Do-It-Yourself Measurements

Drafting the Pattern

The procedure I use for drafting a sleeve creates a pattern that usually requires little or no fitting. The description is in my How to Make Sewing Patterns on pages 80 through 82, 2nd ed. (pages 72 through 75, 1st ed.) and the videos below.

When you create the pattern, you will be dividing measurements by 1/2, and 1/3. I show easy ways of dividing measurements by using my Scale Rulers.

In addition to drafting the sleeve pattern, you will need to compare the sleeve to the body of the garment and add sewing notches for the ease. You may also want to add a dart at the elbow. This dart is optional as I showed in the introductory video.

Drafting the Pattern

Comparing to the Body

Marking Sleevecap Ease

Sleeve Darts

Sewing and Fitting the Sleeve

After you have drafted a sleeve, you should sew it into an Upper Torso (aka Bodice) fitting shell to test the fit. I have found that once the sleeve is drafted and adjusted to the Upper Torso (aka Bodice) Sloper, there is usually little if any fitting adjustment required.

However, if you would like to check the fit before you sew it or you find you need to adjust the shape of the sleevecap after an initial trial fitting, I have included a video that shows how you can fit a sleevecap before it is sewn into the body of the garment.

Sewing a sleeve into the body of a garment is one of the more challenging sewing tasks. There are two basic ways you can do this.

  1. First sew the side seam of the body of the garment and the underarm of the sleeve. Then sew the sleevecap into the armscye. This is the approach I show in the video below.
  2. Sew the sleevecap into the armscye first. Then sew the underarm and side seams together. This is the approach I was shown by people who work in the ready-to-wear industry. With this approach if the sleevecap does not match perfectly with the armscye, any mismatch just becomes a little extra seam allowance in the underarm and side seam.

Fitting the Sleeve

Sewing the Sleeve

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