N.B. All of the following post was written BEFORE I watched the great vlog from Silhouette Patterns entitled ‘Armholes & Sleeves’. Never again will I have to suffer the trials and tribulations presented by this project. Happy stitching!
At the end of the previous post about this shirt I was considering conversion to a sleeveless option. In anticipation of going that route, I therefore carefully removed the offending sleeves (noting that the seam allowance would now be ¼ inch only) and prepared a long length of self-bias ready to bind the armholes. I tried on the shirt and it would be ‘OK’ sleeveless but not what I really wanted. If I went down the sleeveless route there was a strong chance of flashing my underwear as the armholes were large and deep. I recalled that I had some remnant fabric from making a bag a couple of years ago – would I be able to locate the extra fabric and could I make some new sleeves? I went on a ‘treasure hunt’ through my boxes of fabric and was most fortunate to find a large piece (about 1 yard of full width) of the printed cotton. Right – let’s get this show on the road!
The gaping armhole!
With the shirt modelled on the dress form I measured the gaping armhole. It was approximately 9 inches across at the cap, 9 inches deep. The front armscye was 12 inches and the back armscye 14 inches.
I retrieved the original sleeve pattern from the envelope and traced onto pattern paper. Now, I needed to expand the sleeve cap to at least 9 inches width and lengthen the front and back armscye lengths – plus seam allowance. To do this, I slashed the pattern in several places from the head down almost to the hem and then cut up from the hem leaving a ‘hinge’ to pivot as I spread the pattern. The ‘hinge’ area was reinforced with magic tape.
Pattern slashed and spread to new dimensions
Each slash was spread by ½ inch and then taped to spare paper on the reverse. This expanded sleeve head would be gathered to fit the armscye and should provide sufficient room for easy movement of my arm.
I cut two sleeves using some soft calico from Lady Sew & Sew of Marlow (my ‘go to’ supplier for great calico) and hand basted them into position. Oh so much better. I needed to reduce the ‘expansion’ by 1 inch on the front armhole and the length of the sleeve but overall it looked ‘good to go’. I unpicked the toile sleeves, pressed and used them to make a new pattern.
New sleeve toile pattern
Taking care to ensure that I cut each sleeve with the pattern running in the correct direction (I did not want dogs standing on their heads!). As the hemline of the sleeves was now a gentle curve, I decided to repeat the contrast striped bias piping along the hems.
Contrast striped fabric piping
Sleeve hem with bias facing
Completed sleeve inserted
Having completed the preparation of the new sleeves, I inserted with hand basting to double-check the fit. Not perfect but a vast improvement on the first versions so I proceeded with machine stitching. Due to the narrow seam allowance I had to take great care when neatening the raw edges with the overlocker.
All done so now I can enjoy my new shirt and get on with the next project. Something a little less taxing in the fitting department!