When it comes to the first fitting of the garment with sleeves, some may get a little bit scared since not everyone can set in a sleeve from the very first try :) There is a multitude of reasons why sleeves may not fit. For example, individual body features like your posture and the shape of your shoulders can cause a poor fit. Or, sleeves won’t fit because the sleeve cap and armscye measurements are not balanced well. Maybe the problem is that you’ve inserted a sleeve the wrong way or chose the wrong fabric to sew the garment (e.g., your fabric doesn’t conform to the recommendations and has inappropriate properties. For example, it doesn’t get pressed easily).
The sleeve cap being too high is one of the most common fitting issues. If this problem occurs, you can see multiple horizontal drag lines and folds at the top of the cap.
Here are the possible reasons for this issue:
- The shoulders are more sloped than average
In this case, you will need to adjust the angle of the shoulder seam and adjust the sleeve cap height, following these simple steps:
- During the toile fitting, pin a small tuck at the shoulder seam to guide your future shoulder seam adjustment.
- Check the resulting sleeve cap and armscye lengths. Re-draw them with smooth lines. (Pic. 1a and 1b)
- The sleeve construction (or the garment design in general) suggests that the sleeve should be eased or gathered but the final length of the sleeve cap is still too great for you.
In this case, you can adjust the sleeve cap both at the top and at the bottom.
! Make sure to check whether the sleeve and the armscye correspond. (Pic. 1c)
- The chosen fabric doesn’t get pressed well. The volume that was supposed to be eased doesn’t shrink when you press.
Let’s suppose that the jacket was constructed to be sewn out of the wool blend material, but you decide to use linen or suiting viscose. As a result, you get too much volume at the sleeve cap. In this case, making the sleeve cap shorter is not enough – you will also need to decrease the width of the cap. (Pic. 2A)
Once you’ve made all the adjustments, check if the sleeves and armscyes correspond, using the following formulas:
- Back armscye length + sleeve cap ease = sleeve cap length (back)
- Front armscye length + sleeve cap ease = sleeve cap length (front)
In this event, the sleeve cap ease amount will be minimal.
- You have made a mistake while inserting a sleeve into the armscye.
Before you start setting in a sleeve, carefully study the instructions on how to do it properly, how to make staystitches and how to press the cap ease.
Proper diagnosis of the fitting issue is key to sewing a perfect sleeve. Once you’ve found the reason your sleeve fits poorly, the alterations will be a piece of cake.
More on fitting issues:
How to adjust garment length and sleeve length
Alya t-shirt: straight shoulder adjustment
Adjusting garments with set-in sleeves to fit broad straight shoulders
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