Fitted Sleeve Issues

This is a summary of the content in the articles on Understanding the Sleeve.

What is the Ideal (one-piece) Fitted Sleeve?

  1. It follows the curve of the arm, rather than flaring away from the arm
  2. It has minimal ease in the bicep; this minimal amount you need for a comfortable garment that allows movement
  3. It has minimal ease in the sleeve cap; just enough ease to sew the sleeve into the bodice, without gathers or tucks

Not everyone can have the ideal Fitted Sleeve

Sometimes, in order to achieve the first two points above, means you can't achieve the third point.  This means you will end up with gathers or tucks in the sleeve-head.  Again, this is not a problem in and of itself, it just means that in order to have a sleeve that looks fitted (doesn't flare away from the arm) and has enough ease for movement, you will have excess ease, in the form of gathers and tucks, in the curve of the sleeve.

Having said that, you could create some darts to get rid of the excess ease,or put a seam line down the middle and remove the excess at the shoulder point by making the seam line curved.  It then becomes a two-piece sleeve.

So to reiterate: you sometimes can't get all three of the ideals in a one-piece sleeve block, unless you put in some darts.

Who will have this problem?

  • If you have a bicep that is disproportionately larger than the rest of your body*.
  • If you have other Fitting Issues such as a rounded upper back and forward sloping shoulders

*Here is a (rough) guide to some standard (Australian) bicep measurements, and what I deduced Vogue patterns use for their bicep measurements.

The Bottom Line

If you have a larger bicep than normal, using your bicep measurement (and adding ease) will be the first step to getting a better fitting sleeve, but whether or not you need to add more than 2 inches ease is something you need to figure out by making a toile and checking it out.  Make sure when you put on the toile that you reach both arms forward, and back, and up, etc.. rather than just standing normally.  Unless you also have a disproportionately small Cap Height, you will end up with excess ease in the sleeve cap.

If your biceps seem to be in the 'normal' range, but you have other fitting issues, you may need more than 2 inches ease in the bicep.  Again, once you have made your toile, make sure you try moving your arms in all the ways you would in the course of a day, and see if there is any tightness and constriction.  If there is, you will need to work out how much extra ease you need.  You will also end up with excess ease in the sleeve cap.

In both of the cases above, if you would prefer the sleeve cap to have the minimal ease, you could reduce the Cap Height, and have a more Flared Sleeve rather than a Fitted Sleeve.  This means (obviously) that your Fitted Sleeve won't be very Fitted.  But then.... how fitted does a fitted sleeve have to be, to be a fitted sleeve?

Examples

The two images below show where there may be insufficient ease to allow arm movement, even though there is sufficient ease for the bicep itself.  You can also see the ramifications for the amount of ease in the sleeve cap.

Image 1:

  • The brown sleeve has the correct Cap Height for a fitted look and a bicep measurement that is sufficient for the bicep itself, but there is insufficient ease for arm movement, as shown.
  • The yellow sleeve has the correct bicep measurement to allow the full range of movement necessary.  There is minimum ease in the sleeve head, which means there will not be any gathers.  However, the low Cap Height (needed for to achieve minimum ease in the sleeve cap) means that the sleeve isn't really the ideal fitted sleeve; it will flare away from the body.
  • The dashed black line shows what will happen if the correct Cap Height and the correct Bicep measurement is used.  You can see that the length of this line will be significantly more than either of the other two.  This means there will be excess ease in the sleeve cap, which will result in gathers or tucks.

bicep-ease-01


Image 2:

  • The brown sleeve has the correct Cap Height for a fitted look and a bicep measurement that is sufficient for the bicep itself, but there is insufficient ease for arm movement, as shown.
  • The yellow sleeve has the correct bicep measurement to allow the full range of movement necessary.  There is minimum ease in the sleeve head, which means there will not be any gathers.  However, the low Cap Height means that the sleeve isn't really the ideal fitted sleeve; it will flare away from the body.
  • The dashed black line shows what will happen if the correct Cap Height and the correct Bicep measurement is used.  You can see that the length of this line will be significantly more than either of the other two.  This means there will be excess ease in the sleeve cap, which will result in gathers or tucks.

bicep-ease-02


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