You may have noticed that it has been very quiet on this here blog. It has been a crazy month or so, which has meant that unfortunately the blog has been neglected! But it is all for very good reason.
But before I go into that, I just want to say a very, very big THANK YOU to those lovely readers who responded to my 'Should I take the Plunge?' post that I wrote last month - it was so lovely to receive your emails, as well as receive the support for my new venture.
And the great news is, that it was enough to show that there is a market for my business, and I secured the funding I was applying for! Woooohooo! Which means this dream of starting my own business is really happening - which is very exciting (and also very daunting)!
I am currently sampling the first pattern I hope to release, which brings me to today's post - drafting a raglan sleeve (and stay tuned to the blog, as I will also be putting a call out for pattern testers very soon!)
Most of you probably know what a raglan sleeve looks like. It is common in menswear, but has definitely been popping up more and more in womenswear.
I love a raglan sleeve, it adds a little bit of extra interest to a pattern, leaves a lot of room for pattern hacking (hello piping and interesting design lines) and it is much easier (I find) to sew than a standard set-in sleeve, as you don't have to worry about ease!
So, if I have successfully persuaded you that a raglan sleeve is what you need, then let's get started.
To start, you will need your front and back patterns. I am using a basic shirt pattern (loose fitting with front bust dart) with a long sleeve. As always, when making alterations to a pattern, you should do so without seam allowance.
You will need to check how much ease is in your sleeve head. This is important, as due to the nature of a raglan sleeve, this ease needs to be removed from the sleeve head. Take note of the amount of ease found.
Lay your sleeve down flat, and then place your back pattern piece on top, matching up the armhole notches. Rotate the back pattern, until the point of the shoulder is 1 - 1.5cm above the sleeve head. Use a weight to hold the patterns in place.
Take the front pattern and do the same - making sure that the shoulder points, of the front and back patterns, are in line (this is when you may need to raise or lower the back shoulder so that it matches with the front).
Now, instead of a shoulder seam, you will be using a dart to create the shaping you need at the shoulder. Draw in your dart arms, by following along the shoulder seams and then softly curving towards the grainline on the sleeve. You want the point of the dart to be as close to the top of the sleeve as you can make it, but still want it to be a smooth and gradual curve.
Now have a think about what kind of design lines you would like to have on the front and back of your garment. There are a wide range of styles you can do - so have a little look online at finished garments if you need some inspiration.
As you can see, I went for curved lines. Mark in these design lines, starting from the notch on the armhole and gradually working towards the centre back / neckline.
Mark balance points (notches) on these curves, so that when these pieces are separated, you will be able to sew them back together correctly.
If your curve does meet with the centre front or centre back, make sure your line is perpendicular to the centre front / centre back when it gets there. This is an important thing to remember whenever a seam hits a line where it will become reflected when cut.
This will ensure that when you cut on the fold, or cut a pair, the line will match up with a nice straight line and not an angle.
Now that you have marked in all your lines, you can take a large piece of pattern paper, lay it over the patterns, and trace a copy of your sleeve. Be sure to transfer the grainline and all notches.
You will need to check that your dart arms are the same length. Fold the pattern in half to check (and make any necessary adjustments if they are different) and then notch both sides of the dart. This will help when sewing your dart.
At this point, you should also check that the side seams of the sleeve are the same length.
You can also trace the front and back patterns (or cut through the design lines, if you have already taken a copy of the pattern). Once again, be sure to transfer the notches.
To finish the pattern, check that all pieces fit nicely together (by matching up straight seams and 'walking in' curves) and then add seam allowance. Use a drill hole to mark the dart point. I like to mark the drill hole 1.5cm above the dart point, so that when you sew the dart, you sew past the mark, enclosing the hole or mark on the fabric, inside the dart.
And that's it! I hope you have found this tutorial useful.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I will be putting a call out for pattern testers in the next couple of weeks for my first pattern. Please keep your eyes on the blog if you think you may be interested in testing!