Alexander Wang, AW13, New York.
This post forms the third part of a series about The Fullness and Shaping of Sleeves (read Part 1 or Part 2). In the first two posts we talked about how you need to make certain decisions about the fullness and angle of your sleeve. In this post we will talk about how you can then use seams, darts, gathers and tucks to shape the sleeve and body pieces of your garment.
We are going to return to the idea of shaping the body and sleeves of a garment out of a single piece of fabric. We will then work into this piece of fabric to create the shaping that we want for our sleeve.
There are endless variations of sleeve and body combinations that can be created starting from this point but we are going to cover a few key variations that form the foundation for a wide variety of sleeves:
- Seam line along outside of arm
- Dart on shoulder line
- Shaping that leads to a raglan shape
- Shaping fabric around shoulder point
The diagrams showing each of these changes have all been intentionally simplified to focus on the sleeves, so they do not show the shaping that may be needed in the body section of the patterns.
Seam Line Along Outside of Arm
There are two main slopes that you need to consider when seaming into the fabric to create shape. The first slope is from the neck down to the shoulder point, and the next slope is from the shoulder point down along the outside of the arm.
The first example we will use takes these two slopes into account by turning this into one continuous seam line that travels along the outside edge of the arm.
The following are some examples of these types of sleeves from a range of old patterns on The Cutting Class Pinterest:
This sleeve principle can be applied to sleeves that are close to the body, as well as much more oversized sleeves such as in this coat from Jil Sander.
Jil Sander, AW12, Milan.
Dart on Shoulder Line
Another way of designing is to start from the sleeve and design in towards the body instead. In this example, we are going to start as though the fabric is draped over the arms, with the straight grain of the fabric running down each arm. In this case, the slope of fabric over the arm is already taken care of, but we still need to account for the slope between the neckline and shoulder point.
This can be done by creating a dart in the fabric along the shoulder line. This is a popular technique for oversized garments or for very thick or patterned fabric as it reduces the amount of seams needed on the sleeve area.
Note that when you are draping and creating patterns like this you are making the sleeve the priority in terms of grain line. This means that your centre front and centre back seams are going to fall through the bias of the fabric and this will mean that you will need to construct these seams more carefully then you would normally need to as the bias grain will make them less stable, and more likely to stretch and pull out of shape.
Shaping Leads to Raglan Shape
Looking at shapes like these two designs, you can begin to see how you could introduce raglan seam lines. These raglan seam lines can be decorative and purely used to create interesting panel lines.
The raglan lines can also be very functional in terms of achieving the fit that you need, as the added panel lines will give you the chance to remove some of the excess fabric from the underarm area and create a more tight fitting sleeve.
The fact that the sleeve is now cut separately from the front and back pattern pieces means that you can also change the grain line of both raglan pieces to run down the arm.
The following photo from designer Heta Vajavarra shows a jacket sleeve that has both an outside seam line, and a raglan panel line.
Photo by Aava Anttinen»
The same basic idea also works for the sleeve version that we did with the shoulder dart. In the diagram below you can see how the dart just becomes a part of the raglan pattern. This pattern version also means that you can make the centre front and centre back of the bodice patterns run on the straight grain.
The following are some examples of different raglan sleeve variations from a range of old patterns on The Cutting Class Pinterest:
Shaping Fabric Around Shoulder Point
Another option is to use gathers or tucks to hinge the fabric around the shoulder point, rather than creating the shaping with seams or darts.
You can see examples of different styles of gathered sleeves in these image from old patterns:
In the following images from Alexander Wang’s Autumn-Winter 2013 collection you can also see how tucks could be used to create sleeves that fold around the shoulder curve as well.
Old pattern images were found on Pinterest»
Sleeve and pattern diagrams by The Cutting Class»