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August 2010
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Working With Garment Sleeves

          Today’s garments are designed with a wide variety of sleeves, which differ greatly in look and in the method of construction.  A garment, for example, may have armholes that are merely finished, producing a sleeveless look, or it may have sleeves, either set-in or raglan, that are separately made and attached to the garment, as shown below.

          The armholes on most sleeveless garments are cut to comfortably encircle the arm with the upper edge resting at the shoulder point.  However, there are variations.  Garments sometimes have wider than usual shoulder widths that drop over the shoulders to create a little cap.  Others are styled with narrower shoulder widths that result in a larger and more angled armhole.

           Set in sleeves are the most widely used type.  Variations of the set in sleeve are numerous – the top edge or cap, can be slightly rounded or fully gathered; the length of the sleeve long or short; the bottom tapered, flared or gathered.

            To achieve success with any garment, it is wise to observe several principles –  (1) check the garment and sleeve fit (see diagram and instructions that follow).   (2) carefully and accurately transfer all sleeve and armhole markings to the fabric, (3) use proper pressing techniques during construction, and (4) whenever possible, finish the lower edge of the sleeve before attaching it to the garment. 

          Next week we’ll cover the subject “How To Get a Proper Sleeve Fit”.

          These “how to” tutorials are an excerpt from our book “Basic Clothing Construction”.   This book is a handy addition to have in your sewing room, so you can refer to the various sewing tips and tutorials at any time 

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About The Author

Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author


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