18 January, 2014

Rainbow jacket: troubles with sleeves

Building this jacket hasn't been completely smooth sailing.  I spent a good long time on discovering, and then slowly solving, sleeve problems.

First, once sewed together and body tested, the sleeves felt much too stiff and somewhat too tight.  The solution to that was not particularly difficult:  bit by bit, without disassembling the already-made sleeves, I cut away nearly all the quilting.

By the time I finished, the only little bit of blue underlining left on each sleeve was about 5 cm at the cuff, and what had already been caught in the vertical seams.  Those two lines of what remained in the last quilting lines after the rest was pinked away, in the pic above, were also removed.  I also re-stitched the back sleeve seam about 1/4" wider, adding 1/2" to the circumference.  Not necessary, but an uncomfortable garment is one that doesn't get worn, right?

The second sleeve problem was equally unanticipated and rather harder to solve.  Call me naive, but I was under the impression that if the fabric stripe or check of the body piece is matched to the undersleeve, it'll similarly match all the way along the sides and at the sleeve cap. In theory, it should.  In this case, if I'd used the single piece sleeve of NL6516, perhaps it would have.  But I used a sleeve from V7975, and as it turned out it was too shallow.   Here's how:

At left are the back body pieces.  I numbered the armscye blue stripes: there are four of them.  At right are the sleeve pieces, and the blue stripes for the back half of the sleeve's armscye curve are also numbered: there are only three. The fourth stripe needed for a proper fit is missing, and the sleeve cap is too flat and too short to fit in the body correctly.  Oh, I'm sure I could've stretched and strong armed it (pun intended!) into the armscye, but the stripes wouldn't have matched, it wouldn't have looked good, and it very likely wouldn't have felt good in wear.  So how did I solve this problem?  I increased the size of the sleeve cap.

I sewed a strip of fabric two blue stripes high just above stripe number two of the upper sleeve.  I had just enough small pieces of fabric left over to do that.  After that, I really winged it, tacking the sleeve in tiny little increments here and there at important match points, eventually sewing it in by hand with very small stitches, and only after it was all in to my satisfaction (not perfect, mind you, but acceptable!) I machine sewed the lot just inside the hand stitching, for security.  You can just see that horizontal seam in the sleeve above, it's in the purple-magenta stripe.

 After many days, the sleeves are finally in. I have learned my lesson!
I free-handed the cap increase in the lining, and pleated rather than eased the cap into the lining body.  I always pleat out the sleeve cap excess in my linings - it's easy, quick, and comes with no functional penalty.  How about you?

Here's where I diverge from the classic cardigan jacket construction: the lining is a standard one, with an ease pleat in the back and one side seam left open, and it'll be "bagged" into the jacket.    


  1. Your jacket is gorgeous! I love this fabric. What a great save of the sleeve.

  2. I'm so impressed with both your jackets (this and the blue one). I had similar problems sewing in the sleeves of a loose weave coat (on my blog). Eventually I winged it, inch by inch, trying on different variations of sleeve setting. When I got sleeves that felt right I machine stitched. Not the most professional method but it seems to have worked. I'm going to read your older posts now - interested to see more of your work!