Self drafted pattern for a blouse, with close fitting arm hole and two sleeves, one of them oblong.

A few muslins further and now I’ve got one that works and that I’d actually call a pattern:

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sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I’ve been playing with sleeves a bit.
I’ve drafted and fitted on that I’m going to use. It’s on the left arm hole of this muslin. It has a biceps width of 35 cm and a sleeve cap matching the armhole exactly at 42,3 cm. It has little gussets at the sides.

On the right shoulder is an oblong sleeve. Just a straight piece of cloth, 42,3 cm in width and some 25 cm high. I wanted to learn how much arm movement it gives. I’ve been reading and rereading Ikatbag’s explanation of sleeves and I wanted to experience it.

Just a rectangle sewn into arm hole:

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
Excellent movement! Nice flair…

One day I’d like to take this sleeve (cap) and play with it. See if I can eliminate the flair, reduce the bulk at the underarm but still keep most of that nice room for movement. But not today. (I did start. I sewed some lines into the sleeve, as it was still attached, and see how that influenced fit. And I started to read up on medieval smocks and skirtles. But really, I should sew a blouse now.)

This is the sleeve I’ve drafted. It sits nice. But in unwashed cotton it’s still a bit restrictive. I’m hoping it will be alright in the lighter fashion fabric. If not it’ll be a learning experience.
Muslin looks nice though. See how close to the body the arm hole is. It’s not uncomfortable at all!
And it gives better movement than any other sleeve I’ve made before, in any of my grey blouses.
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

Here’s the pattern of this sleeve cap, with the dark thread indicating the sleeve cap but without gusset flares at both ends:
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I also drafted front panel facings; a collar and a collar stand and plackets for the sleeves.

Now I’m ready to transfer markings to fashion fabric I think…

This is the fabric:

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Grey little flowers blouse: tackling the sleeve

Looking at http://fashion-incubator.com/sleeve_cap_ease_is_bogus/ I realized I had incorrectly lined up the seam of the sleeve with the side seam of the bodice. That shouldn’t be done when you have a rotated arm hole and/or sleeve.

So I folded the arm hole together and found its actual lowest point, somewhere in front of where the side seam is. (seam ripper points to side seam):

I lined up the seam of the sleeve with the lowest point, which is right opposite the shoulder seam. I pinned the sleeve on and sewed it in. (Sewing was very easy since there’s no ease to fidget in.)

The seam of the sleeve is a whole 4 cm (nearly 2 inch) in front of the side seam. In this picture the armhole seam runs horizontal and my fingers are on the side seam and on the sleeve seam:

Fitting: the newly positioned sleeve gives a nice silhouet. No puckering, no folds:

It’s now a bit more wearable but still not very good.

The shoulder seam is a bit to the back. At the front, where I took out the bust dart, there’s too much fabric flapping about, I could hide an orange in there.
In contrast I do not have enough fabric over my biceps/upper arm to move around comfortably. The fabric still stretches over my upper arm. It’s not pleasant to wear:

Suddenly I realize Fashion-Incubator is talking about jackets and her primary aim is to match up stripes between bodice and sleeve. Not so much wearing comfort. I may have gotten off on a false premise…

With the second sleeve I may be able to squeeze some wearing comfort out of the seam allowances. And I’ll use the arm hole with side bust dart this time, to position the arm hole better.

Trying to find the lowest part of the arm hole wasn’t as easy because of the bustdart. (seam ripper points to side seam):

But matching the edges together got me there. I marked the spot with a red pin, this is where I will place the seam of the sleeve.

Off to bed.

Next morning: CHANGE OF PLANS
After again reading the very informative post of Ikatbag on sleeve caps and wearing comfort I decide to do things differently. More thorough.

I rip the seam on the sleeve and look at it afresh as a pattern piece. I don’t press it because I need to be able to see the sewing line/seam allowance.

I measure the length of the sewing line on the existing sleeve. This line is 1,5 cm from the edge. Seam ripper marks the end to where I should measure the piece of white thread:

The thread is 49,5 cm long. This is the length of the sewing line. However I alter the sleeve cap, its sewing line should keep this length if I want a sleeve that will fit into the existing arm hole.

I measure the width of the sleeve, without seam allowances:

This part sits over my upper arm. It’s too tight, as the fitting showed. The thread is 35,5 cm long. The width of my sleeve is 35,5 cm.

I measure my upper arm, right at the arm pit. It’s 33,5 cm in circumference.
A sleeve of 35,5 cm wide at that point gives not a lot of ease but could be enough.

I raise my arm a bit and measure from where a sleeve would connect to the arm hole. It’s 33,5 cm long and I’m surprised. A sleeve in an armhole should be 33,5 cm wide. I probably did something wrong in this measurement.

Here I’m measuring the length of the sewing line on the existing arm hole (it’s 1,5 cm from the edge):

Add front and back. The seam ripper points to the end, I’m not adding the seam allowance. It’s 49,5 cm long. This is the exact length the sewing line on the sleeve cap has and should have. There will be no easing in, it’s just straight forward sewing. That’s good.

But now I do not yet understand why my sleeve (cap) is so ridiculously tight while the numbers fit, in theory. Time to look at the actual arm hole while it is on the body.

The arm hole should be flat against my body and as small as possible (but not as small as you would do for a knitted fabric, says Ikatbag).

It’s not as close fitting as could be:

There’s still room at the front, it could be brought upwards a bit. Also at the back: the edge of the fabric ought to be the sewing line. That’s an 1,5 cm difference.

Lots of room at the side seam too, it could be brought up higher:

I note how the hole should be altered in a next, new version of the paper pattern:

It’s actually quite a bit! 4,5 cm at the front and the side seam (nearly 2 inches!) and 1,5 cm at the back and also take out some of the curve.

No wonder the numbers of the sleeve don’t work at the moment. My armhole is not very good and I need the sleeve to compensate for it which it doesn’t.

I have the choice to draft a new arm hole and sew a whole new bodice. Or draft a new sleeve into this existing arm hole and have a blouse that’s not perfect but might well work. I opt for the second. I don’t have enough fabric nor cheerfulness to sew a whole new bodice. I will alter the paper pattern though, for the next blouse.

For the existing arm hole I take some new measurements. While wearing the bodice I place the cord at appropriate points and raise my arm. To find out how much width I actually want in my sleeve cap for this arm hole to work:

I need a sleeve that’s 38,5 cm wide instead of the 35,5 cm that it is now.

I also note where the tightness is. It’s not (only) at the width of the sleeve, it’s mainly at the sleeve cap itself. It will need another shape. Less curved. But still with a sewing line that’s 49,5 cm long.

I play around with how a thread of this length can yield different sleeve cap forms. Please look at iKatbag’s post for thoughts on how different shapes influence ease of movement.

Playing.

This sleeve is actually 38,5 cm wide when I measure from side to side and include seam allowances. 38,5 cm is the width my new sleeve will have (without seam allowances). I pin the thread with length 49,5 cm to the outer points and play some more:

This will be just about the shape of my new sleeve cap. Lower at the top than the original, bellowing out at the edges. At the sides, where the red pins keep the cord at the right length, it should be horizontal. For logical connection in the round.

On a new piece of cloth I mark in ball pen the new width of the sleeve: 38,5 cm + seam allowance of 2,5 cm on either side. At the sewing line I inserted the red pins holding the thread with the right length (49,5 cm).
I play with the cord until I found a pleasing curve, resembling the one that I found above:

Now I will add 2,5 cm seam allowance around it and then cut.

Cutting the sleeve down wards, towards the cuff, I will make it more slender. Not a straight line to the cuffs. I’m using a method of “slash and spread” which is usually used to make a sewing pattern piece bigger.

Here are the two sleeve caps next to each other:

Wider, less high, less curved and a seam allowance of 2,5 cm instead of 1,5 cm. Sleeve under the cap is a bit tailored, I don’t need all that extra fabric around my arm. My arm is just a size 38.
Sewing line on the cap is still 49,5 cm, it should fit into the armhole precisely.

Staystitching. Sew sleeve seam. Pin it to the arm hole. Sew it.

Fit:

Put in temporarily and in a slap dash manner but the main idea is evident: no stretching anywhere. Fabric bundles up a bit at the arm pit but that’s to be expected with this style. It’s the price for comfort.

Very comfortable forward motion. Enough room at the back. Bit of a wide sleeve at the (lower) arm though (not enough “slash and scrunch”).

I can lift my arm sideways higher and with less restriction on the upper arm:

compared to how high I can raise my arm with the old sleeve (and no bust dart):

It’s not a very beautiful thing, my new sleeve, when I raise my arm. The shoulder bundles up. The sleeve raises the whole blouse at the side. But it’s wearable now. I can move in this one.

I’ll take it out now and tweak it some more. The drag lines show where a bit more fabric would be nice. It’s at the point where the bust dart meets the arm hole. The arm hole has a dent there, it’s not a nice oblong.

I’d sewn in the sleeve observing all the original seam allowances: 1,5 cm for the arm hole and 2,5 cm for the sleeve.
I’m going to resew it and try to give it a bit more fabric at that dent, using the seam allowance. I’m also going to try and raise the arm hole at the side seam as much as possible.

If it sits better I’ll trim the seam allowances. This will help with the bundling up at the shoulder.

First I’ll take out the sleeve and trace it on paper. Also make notes on the paper pattern of the bodice.

Stylish Cat Lady Shirt (Burda 6909)

To celebrate the end of a stressful period I bought two funny fabrics, for fun blouses. With it I bought the Burda pattern 6909.

Blouse with princess lines front and back, long sleeves and a collar.

WHAT SIZE? GRADING.
First I wanted to grade the pattern.
For this I had to re-acquaintance myself with wearing ease (and designer ease) that each pattern company incorporates in their sizes. Judging from the pattern cover I should be a 42 at the bust (+ do an FBA), a 38 at the waist and a 36 at the hip. But these are their fashion sizes, it says nothing about the actual measurements of the pattern.

I’ve been burned before, with my first dress ever, a Vogue pattern two years ago, that needed a whopping 4 inches/ 10 cm to be taken away. So I’m nowhere near marking a line on the pattern pieces, let alone cutting in fabric. Not until I find out more about how Burda works with ease.

Looking online, mainly at the sewists’ site Pattern Review.com, it seems that it’s mainly the big four pattern companies (Butterick, Vogue, Simplicity and that-other-one) which add ridiculous amounts of ease to their patterns.

Here’s a post by Glenda Sparling from Sure-Fit DesignsTM about what wearing ease actual should be and what designer ease often is:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 16.24.05

The experienced people on the forum at PR say that Burda doesn’t add ridiculous amounts of wearing ease. Alright, I’ll mark the pattern pieces going from size 42 to 38 to 36 (bust – waist – hip) and I’ll put my measuring tape to these places to see what the resulting measurements will be from the garment.
If I think it sounds reasonable I’ll cut the fabric. There still will be fitting and pinning afterwards anyway.

The lines I followed on the paper pieces and blended from one to the next:

  • size 38 at the waist
  • size 36 at the hips
  • size 36 at the upper back
  • size 42 at the front bust
  • size 36 at the upper front/”shoulder straps” (but with the length/height of size 42)

added 1,5 cm seam allowance since Burda doesn’t do those.
added 4 cm seam allowance at the hem and cuffs

Before cutting I shorted the bodice by 4 cm because the pattern is for 41 cm from nape neck to waist and I only run 37 cm. However, Burda self says there’s only two cm difference between a person of 1.68 cm and 1.60 cm.They advice to take out 7 mm at the upper part and 13 mm at the waist.
I’ll have to see if my 4 cm is too much… if it is I cannot magically grow more fabric…

CUTTING THE FABRIC
The fabric has been washed to deal with shrinking. I didn’t iron it because it dried on the washing line outside and ironing might stretch the fabric. You might also think I’m lazy and I confess that is in my nature (although I prefer the term “efficient”) but that’s not the case here. Instead of laziness it was perfectionism preventing me from ironing.
Had I ironed this fabric things would have gotten too serious and I’d grown ambitious, wanting to sew a perfect blouse. With this funny fabric remaining un-ironed things stayed playful. Fact is that I have been sewing the blouse for days now with many things getting unpicked and re-sewn without it ever getting really frustrating.

I cut the fabric. Precisely.
– Had the grain of the fabric run the same as the lines on the pattern pieces.
– Took care that no cats or dots were positioned right at the apex.
– Made sure all pattern pieces have cats going the right side up.
(For the collar this means cutting one piece right side up and the other one right side down OR sewing both pieces the same way up. I need to see them interacting first before I know for sure. Leave some fabric to cut another collar if I have it wrong.)

STAYSTITCHING
staystitching: 1 cm from the edge (per Tilly and the Buttons’ advice)
1 cm = 3/8″
1,5 cm = 5/8″

Run the machine of the fabric and allow for some thread:

Don’t forget to even out the stitches after you’ve sewn a line (that’s where that extra thread at the corners is for). The sewed line must be as relaxed as the fabric. No crumpling allowed of either allowed:

Here’s a good overall tutorial about the why and how of staystitching: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/36859/sew-better-with-staystitching-fundamentals/page/all

staystitched everything, with black thread.

SEWING

Sewed together all princesslines and the sideseams. Shoulderseams too.
Didn’t press, cut or treat the seam allowances.

I reaped benefit from having cut the fabric very precisely. I inserted my seam ripper to show you how neat the two pieces line up. Much easy sewing.

I also used the distance-tool my sewing machine has. First I used it for the 1 cm staystitching and now for the 1,5 cm seam. You just glide the edge of the fabric along the guide.

FIRST FITTING
First fitting: not bad!
The pattern has quite a bit of ease around the torso but the shoulders are ok and the bust too. There’s a lack of shaping under the bust and in the back.

I pin this and sew new lines over the old ones. Looking good. Added a little bustdart too, sideways towards the sleeve. This will shorten the armhole (armscye) a bit.
But the silhouet from the front is so much better with those extra creases tucked away!

I transferred all changes to the paper pattern pieces, to use for the next blouse. The one with the funny winter deer.

SLEEVES
Confident that I’ve brought the bodice to its best fit for me I now sewed in the sleeves.
Bad result. It was way too tight over the biceps! I couldn’t raise my arm at all.

What does Burda expect me to do, stand around all day with my arms hanging down? Well… that is what the models are doing in the picture… looking more closely at it, she’s actually not able to raise her arms any higher than this:


Ugh.

I was so disgusted with how it all felt that I didn’t even take a picture. Instead I delved into the internet and learned that the problem of tightness over the biceps is more a question of the position of the armhole and how it’s shaped than it is of ease at the sleeve or ease at the shoulder cap. Pattern makers could do so much better. Very interesting stuff I read.

A BETTER ARMHOLE/ ARMSCYE

Based on the new knowledge I followed a new line in the armhole to stitch my sleeve to, here traced in orange.

Front:

Back:

I brought the armhole more to the front, shortened the shoulder seam and at the back I stitched as close to the edge as I dared. I also took out even more curve in the back princess line.

Then I sewed in the sleeve following the orange stitching lines, swerving in and out of the seam allowance. The result was good

Still not much allowance for movement but much better than it was. This is almost acceptable for daily wear. I started telling myself I can get used to this (annoyance).

So I sewed in the second sleeve the same as the first. Not so well:

A strange pucker at the top. Not the nice pleat the other shoulder has. Fold in the front.
Caused by my lack of experience of easing in a sleeve.

I took it apart and sewed it back in. A bit better.

I took it apart again and sewed it back in. Worse! Should have kept it the way it was.

Then it was time for bed, it was the second or third day of sewing.
The next morning I woke up and tried on the blouse. I then knew that even if I managed to sew in the second sleeve as ok-ish as the first, I would never wear this shirt with pleasure, the sleeves would always be restricting and annoying me throughout out the day.

I would never use Burda 6909 to sew something with sleeves again either.

So I took the pattern pieces to the table and set out to redesign the armhole and the sleeve. I’ll show you the how and what in a next post but here’s the end result after I redesigned the sleeve for Burda 6909 and put it in the existing armhole (following the orange threaded sewing line):

On the right the original ok-ish sleeve, on the left my new sleeve:

Nicer lines, better silhouet, no straining around the arms.

Here are two new sleeves and where the blouse is now:

This is ok. I’ll wear this.
Now it’s time to press the seams, grade them, notch and clip them,pink them. Put in the facing and the closing of the front. Add collar. Sew hems.
Then I should have a new blouse!

Then I’ll go and cut the deer fabric with the totally amended pattern for Blouse 6909 I have now.:

My lines in yellow with black. Explanation about the armhole and sleeve in a new post or you can go read this excellent post by Ikat Bag

———-Dutch tutorial for sewing a neat collar: https://pionikko.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/kraag-met-staander-naaien/