As in the previous tutorial on increasing and decreasing cap ease, when you have checked that your sleeve pattern fits nicely into the armhole of your bodice pattern, you can decide whether you need to increase or decrease the amount of ease in the sleeve cap.

There are a number of ways to adjust the amount of ease and this is just one method. If it is a large amount of ease (over 3cm) you plan to add or remove, you may want to combine this technique with the previous 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 will increase or decrease the length of the bicep, but will not alter the cap height. If you would prefer to leave the bicep circumference as is and adjust the cap height, then the previous method is more suitable.

For this tutorial, you will need the sleeve you are adjusting, a piece of pattern paper (approximately the size of the sleeve), a pencil, scissors, a ruler and masking tape.

Take the sleeve pattern you are altering and draw two guidelines (the grainline will also act as a guideline), on either side of the grainline. These lines need to be parallel to the grain, as well as roughly halfway between the grain and the side seam - although must lie between the notches, as this is the part of the sleeve that holds the ease.

Increasing ease

Decide on the amount of ease you will be adding to the sleeve and divide this figure by three. You will be evenly distributing the ease throughout the sleeve by using the 'cut and spread' technique to open the cap line by the same amount at each of the guidelines.

altering sleeve cap ease 1

Start with the 'cutting' part of the 'cut and spread' technique by taking the sleeve and cutting down the first guideline, starting at the sleeve cap. 

altering sleeve cap ease2

Do not cut right through the pattern - leave a 1-2mm "hinge" at the hemline which will keep the section connected to the rest of the sleeve.

altering sleeve cap ease3

Then spread!

You will now be able to open and close the sleeve at the guideline.

altering sleeve cap ease4

Place the sleeve on top of a piece of pattern paper.

Spread the sleeve by the desired amount, by measuring the length of the opening at the sleeve cap) and stick in place with masking tape.

altering sleeve cap ease5

Move on to the grainline and repeat the process.

As you can see, the sleeve cap is widening, while the hemline is still the same length.

altering sleeve cap ease6

Repeat for the final guideline.

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You have now evenly distributed the desired amount of ease into the sleeve cap.

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Redraw the sleeve cap with a line of best fit.

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The hemline will have changed shape slightly. Redraw as a straight line.

Decreasing ease

Decide on the amount of ease you will be removing from the sleeve cap and divide this figure by three. You will be removing the ease evenly from the sleeve by closing the cap line by the same amount at each guideline.

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Take the measurement that you will be removing from each section and mark it with a perpendicular line next to each of the guidelines at the cap.

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Cut down the first guideline, from the sleeve cap towards the hemline.

altering sleeve cap ease12.jpg

Do not cut right through the pattern - leave a 1-2mm "hinge" at the hemline which will keep the section connected to the rest of the sleeve.

altering sleeve cap ease13

Now take the larger part of the sleeve (in the diagram pieces 2/3/4) and place on top of the smaller section (1) so that the sections are overlapping.

altering sleeve cap ease14

Match the cut line with the measurement you marked. As you will be able to see, this action removed the desired amount from this section. Secure with tape.

altering sleeve cap ease15

Move on to the next guideline. Cut down the guideline and then overlap to remove desired amount. Stick in place with tape.

altering sleeve cap ease16

Repeat process for final guideline.

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Redraw the cap line, with a smooth and even curve.

Re-check that the sleeve fits into the armhole and mark your shoulder point.

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Trace the new pattern, transferring the bicep line and notches.

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Check the pattern is correct by measuring both underarm seams and ensuring they are the same length. If they are not the same length, make the necessary adjustments.

What next?