increasing sleeve cap ease

When you have checked that your sleeve pattern fits nicely into the armhole of your bodice pattern, you can establish whether or not you need to increase or decrease the amount of ease in the sleeve cap.

There are many different ways to adjust the amount of ease and this is just one method. If it is a large amount of ease (over 3cm) you are wanting to add or remove, you may want to combine this technique with this technique to avoid getting a sleeve with a very flat (if you are adding ease) or pointy (if you are removing ease) sleeve cap.

This method is appropriate if you do not want to increase/decrease the bicep circumference of the sleeve (you are happy with the width of the sleeve at the fullest part of your arm), but can afford to increase/decrease the cap height. The second method will increase/decrease the length of the bicep, but will not alter the cap height.

For this tutorial, you will need the sleeve you are adjusting,  (approximately 50cm x 30cm), a pencil, scissors, a ruler and masking tape.

Adding ease

increasing sleeve cap ease1

Take the small piece of pattern paper and mark some guidelines. Start with a vertical line in the centre (roughly) of the paper, approximately the height of your sleeve cap, plus a few extra centimetres. 

Once you have decided how much ease you are adding to the sleeve cap, distribute this measurement evenly either side of the centre line, and extend lines so that they are the same length as the centre line.

increasing sleeve cap ease2

Take the sleeve pattern you are altering and cut down the grainline until you reach the BICEP LINE. Do not cut through the bicep line.

increasing sleeve cap ease3

Then from the centre of the bicep line, cut out towards the side seam on either size. Do not cut through the pattern - leave a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the pieces attached to the lower part of the sleeve.

seam allowance.jpg

If your pattern has seam allowance you will need to cut to the stitching line and also through the seam allowance to the stitching line.

increasing sleeve cap ease4

Lay the sleeve pattern onto the guidelines on the separate sheet of paper - matching the grainline with the centre line. Allow the guidelines to extend a few centimetres above the top of the sleeve.

Use a weight to hold the lower part of the sleeve (below the bicep line) in place.

increasing sleeve cap ease5

Rotate the left hand side of the cap away from the grainline, so that the corner intersects with the left guideline. Once in place, secure with masking tape.

As you can see, this movement increases the cap height - and shows why it is important that the guidelines extend a couple of centimetres beyond the top of the sleeve.

increasing sleeve cap ease6

Repeat action for the right hand side. Tape in place.

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You will now see the extra ease that has been added to the sleeve cap.

increasing sleeve cap ease8

Redraw the sleeve cap - filling in the gap. 

increasing sleeve cap ease9

Walk the sleeve into the armhole again and remark the shoulder notch (unless your shoulder notch was on the grainline, like in the example. In that case, the shoulder notch will remain on the grainline).

Trace off your pattern, or simply add seam allowance to try it out.

The next section of this tutorial will detail how to remove sleeve cap ease, using the same method.

Removing ease

The process of removing ease from the sleeve cap is the same as when adding ease, except that the pieces are rotated towards the grainline, rather than away from, to reduce the length of the sleeve cap. The first few steps are exactly the same (so you can skip through them if you have already worked through the tutorial to add ease).

ease17.jpg

Take the small piece of pattern paper and mark some guidelines. Draw a vertical line in the centre (roughly) of the paper, approximately the height of your sleeve cap, plus a few extra centimetres. 

Once you have decided how much ease you are removing from the sleeve cap, distribute this measurement evenly either side of the centre line, and extend lines so that they are the same length as the centre line.

decreasing sleeve cap ease6

Take the sleeve pattern and cut down the grainline until you reach the BICEP LINE. Do not cut through the bicep line.

decreasing sleeve cap ease7

Then from the centre of the bicep line, cut out towards the side seam on either size. Do not cut through the pattern - leave a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the pieces attached to the lower part of the sleeve.

decreasing sleeve cap ease5

Lay the sleeve pattern onto the guidelines on the separate sheet of paper - matching the grainline with the centre line. 

Use a weight to hold the lower part of the sleeve (below the bicep line) in place.

decreasing sleeve cap ease1

Rotate the left hand side of the cap towards the grainline, so that the corner intersects with the opposite guideline (right hand side). Once in place, secure with masking tape (it will need to be underneath the right side of the cap).

decreasing sleeve cap ease2

Repeat process for opposite side.

decreasing sleeve cap ease3

Once both sides of the cap are secure, redraw the grainline and the bicep line (by joining the underarm points of the sleeve with a horizontal line).

Redraw the sleeve cap, and then once again, check that the sleeve fits into the armhole with the desired amount of ease. Mark in the shoulder notch while 'walking in' the sleeve.

And that's it! You are ready to add seam allowance and then get sewing.

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