Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Something Parti-something Something.

I've run out of "parti-" pun ideas. Now you know how far my creativity goes. But enough of that-- today we talk about sleeves.

If you look back in this blog, you will notice that my experience with sleeves is almost exclusively in regard to tunics. A tunic sleeve is pretty much the easiest thing in the world: a tube. All you really have to do it be sure it's wide enough to get your arm through. If it turns out too long, you fold it up in a cuff. Shorter than you wanted? Well, add a piece of trim, or a band of embroidered cloth or contrasting color. There's no fussing about the size or shape of the armhole (or armscyes, as tailors call them), you just cut out a rectangle, fold it over, and stitch it on.

The fanciest sleeve I've worked was the one for my blue gothic gown, the one with all the buttons. As if the buttons didn't make it challenging enough, I was trying out the Assiette-style construction on that one. There was a lot of fitting and fussing, and I don't recall exactly, but I think I sewed three trial sleeves before getting my pattern draft the way I wanted.

For this parti-colored dress, I chose a simple, short, straight sleeve. I took measurements from the bodice pattern I drafted and added a bit for the front because the armscye came in farther, and adjusted for the seam to be along the back of my arm, rather than underneath, and I made a mock-up and fitted it. Then I made a second trial sleeve and made more adjustments, and then I cut my fabric. On the bias, you guys, to give it a little ease for range of motion. I got fancy!

And it was all wrong. There was a pucker-y lump in the back that wouldn't press out. The seams never seemed to line up; they were always half an inch off -- or more!  I tore the sleeve off and decided that I'd move the seam back underneath the sleeve. It's more period that way anyhow. What was I thinking, to put it on the back? I cut another mock sleeve and stitched it on -- and the fit was still wrong.  Finally I tore out stitching where the fit seemed worst, and fiddled the sleeve this way and that until it was laying correctly and smoothly. I marked the changes and took the sleeve off to make a whole new pattern, and you know what?

It was basically a tube with a quarter-round end. I didn't have to make those silly adjustments for the front of the armscye -- in fact, that was what my biggest mistake had been. And when I cut my new sleeves, I didn't cut them on the bias, either. I cut them on grain, and they were fine.

Lesson learned? Sometimes things aren't nearly as hard as we make them.

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