Of all the trials and tribulations that sewers face, it seems that achieving a properly set-in sleeve is the most troublesome. They end up being too tight, too narrow, and too small, which makes for a pretty uncomfortable garment. While you may not be aiming to making a couture garment, you certainly want to create something that is comfortable to wear.
If you’ve ever tried making a jacket or a shirt from a sewing pattern, there’s no doubt that you’ve experienced this problem. It seems to be pretty common among the sewing world. Don’t give up hope! There is a way that you can properly fit the sleeves in any garment – whether it’s made from denim and chambray, fleece, flannel, knit, chenille, linen, minky, faux leather, suede, or any other material – and in this sewing help guide, we’ll share some tips on how you can do just that. Below, we share two simple tips that you can use achieve properly fitted, comfortable sleeves.
Circumference of the Sleeves
No matter what type of garment you are making, the circumference of the sleeves has to be precise in order to achieve the right fit and get the proper range of motion. While it is true that the length and style of each sleeve will vary and will affect the amount of ease that you get, a general rule of thumb is to measure a minimum of 2 inches above the circumference of the bicep. However, do keep in mind that if you are making a coat or a jacket, you’re going to be wearing layers underneath it, so if you want to get a comfortable fit, you’ll want to have more than 2 inches of ease; 4 inches is recommended. To do this, measure the circumference of the bicep at the fullest point and match it to the pattern.
Length of the Sleeves
Believe it or not, the length of the sleeve can have a big impact on the fit and feel of the garment; yes, even up near the armhole openings. To ensure that your sleeves are fitted properly, you are going to want to make sure that they are the proper length for your body. If the sleeves are too long or too short, there’s no doubt about it: you’re going to be uncomfortable.
To determine if the sleeves are the proper length for your body, measure the length of your arms. If the length is significantly different than the length of the pattern, then you’re going to need to make some adjustments; for example, you might need to shorten the length or add some more length to the sleeve. Either way, give yourself about 2 inches of extra fabric so that you can allow for a hem, otherwise the length – and the overall comfort of the sleeve – will be thrown off.
By using these tips – and with some patience and practice – you should be able to achieve properly fitted and comfortable sleeves for your garments.