April 10, 2014

Those cuffs

This post may seem a bit redundant to some of you (the pattern makers and those who are used to changing and manipulating patterns) but I hope it will be useful to others.
Several people, both here and on Burdastyle and on We Sew Retro, expressed an interest in those sleeves. And a desire to copy that particular detail of full sleeves with cuffs.
Which I understand. I made them like that for a reason and after wearing the robe more than once, I'm very happy with how they turned out. These sleeves are even safe when cooking.

So, I thought I'd give you a bit of technical information about those sleeves and their cuffs.

I don't think I have to go into a lot of detail about the sleeves themselves. Most normal robe patterns have sort of medium width sleeves, to which you could also attach a cuff. To get a shape like mine, you have to slash and spread the sleeve (slash in three places: at the top of the sleeve and left and right to it, straight down the sleeve, along the straight of grain line and spread them out at the bottom, keeping the original length of the seam at the sleeve head. And then flare out the sides for half the amount of space between the pieces as well. Of course, a sleeve head will change shape because of this treatment, and that's fine).
Whatever you are doing with your sleeve, if you're going to add a cuff, you have to make the sleeve shorter. Don't make the mistake of shortening it by the cuff length. That would make it pull and be uncomfortable. 
I would recommend removing half the length of your cuff. In my case, that was 6. I wanted a 12 cm cuff, so I made the sleeves 6 cm shorter.

It's those cuffs I wanted to talk about. I used jersey for them, which I think is quite practical. A stretchy material for the cuff means it can be fitted yet comfortable and most of us have jersey scraps in our stash. And you can usually get jersey in a much wider range of colours than rib knit (which would be the alternative). When using rib knit, you could get away with using a straight piece of material because it's very stretchy and has a lot of recovery.
I've made straight cuffs in jersey in the past but I was never quite happy with them. And the longer they get, the worse the fit becomes.
The solution is very simple. You just make this shape:

The height of this pattern piece is two times the desired cuff length. The width in the middle is your wrist measurement, the width on the top and bottom of the piece is the measurement of your arm at the top of the cuff. Just take these measurements with the tape measure wrapped smoothly around your arm. The stretch of the jersey will allow you to put your hand through the cuff. I wouldn't go for negative ease in this case. The cuffs have to stay in place, you don't need them to be skintight.
Start by measuring out the black lines, than adjust the corners as you can see in by the red lines. The diagonal sides should be the same length as the center, with a 90 degree angle to the top and bottom line. It doesn't have to be absolutely precise but doing this will mean you won't have a strange little point on you cuff.

Add seam allowance, cut two of these cuff pieces out of the jersey with the straight grain running vertically.
Fold the pieces in half vertically, right sides together, and sew the side seams. Press the seams open.
Fold the them horizontally, with the right sides out, forming the finished cuffs.

If you are using fairly narrow sleeves, you can attach the cuffs by stretching them to fit, without gathering. If your sleeves are wide, you have to gather them first.
Gather them using your preferred method but don't gather them to the exact size of the tops of the cuffs. Keep them about 10 % bigger so you won't get a tight line on your arm in the finished garment. Stabilize your gathers before pinning the cuffs. You will have to stretch those so you don't want to have to deal with managing the gathers at the same time.

With your sleeves ready, pin your cuffs into the sleeves with the raw edges together and the right sides facing (of course, the cuffs are folded right sides out and you are treating them as one layer, so there's no in or out about those). 
Distribute the excess material of the sleeve carefully when pinning. 

Stretch the jersey to fit the sleeve when sewing. 
Finish the seam allowance using your preferred method. 

I hope this is useful to you. Have fun creating your own lovely comfy full sleeves with stretchy cuffs!

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