April 16, 2015

Jacket sleeves

If you follow this blog on Facebook, you may have seen this picture already: 

There has been quite a bit of progress on my new jacket! 
Since then, I've made a lining and now I just have to attach that, make buttonholes and do all those little bits of finishing which always take way more time than you'd expect. And I think it is looking good! The skirt should be quite simple: A half circle should do the trick. I'll just have to give it some serious time to hang out before hemming. This fabric is shifty on its own (which is why I block-fused the entire jacket using a very thin knit interfacing)...

This time, I thought I'd be clever and have a bit of a chat about the pattern before showing off the finished garment (because that often leads to questions about the pattern). 

As mentioned before, my inspiration was this picture. 
The darted lower bodice is pretty standard. You will find a shape like that in many patterns and, when drafting your own, you take it straight from the sloper. The notched collar is hardly unique either. I did a full-on jacket collar draft because I like that but you could probably get a result like in the drawing with a simple convertible collar as well. 
The stand-out feature of this design is the yoke. With the sleeves and pocket flaps grown on. I love unusual takes on fairly standard shapes, which is exactly what this is. 

At first, I thought it would be easy to draft this using my kimono sleeved block (I've made that based on the normal sloper, to speed up the drafting process for dresses with kimono sleeves. It's for a fairly fitted kimono sleeve with an underarm gusset). As soon as I got started, though, I found a problem. Proportions.
In the drawing, the lower bodice is long and lean and it is 'crowned' with that nice yoke and pocket flap arrangement. The pocket flaps look like they are right at the apex of the bust and the yoke seam is a straight line. On the kimono sleeved block, that isn't possible. A straight line at or just above bust level would end up in the sleeve. And I thought a curve would be rather noticeable.

Instead, I went for a different option, constructing the yoke-and-sleeve more or less like a raglan sleeve. So, I took the upper bodice pieces from the standard sloper and grafted those only the normal sleeve. To keep that rather soft, flat shoulder line, I put them on a bit under the sleeve head (never recommended in  pattern making instructions but I know my slopers and the result I want). 
With this drafting choice, several practical considerations came together: To make a sleeve like this properly, you need to preserve the lower part of the armscye. To achieve that and get the bust seam at the right height, I lowered the armscye by 2 or 3 centimeters. That should also help to get the looser look around the upper arms and improve the room for movement when combined with a small alteration on the sleeve. That particular sleeve treatment is something I explained in this post.
With the yoke-and-sleeve done, I studied the picture carefully for the placement of the pocket flap. To keep it from making the sewing more difficult, I just used a 1 cm seam allowance for the flap (the flap curled up when I took the picture).

I've tried the jacket on and the sleeves actually still look pretty slim but I can move properly. The proportions on the body look fine so I guess I should put the difference in the sleeve shape down to the inevitable issues you get when converting a drawing into an actual garment. 

Putting the ease for movement in the sleeves was not uncommon in 1950's suits though. These images come from the French Elle magazine, the collection special for autumn/winter 1953. 

These suits are quite different in style from the one I'm making but both have very fitted bodices and fairly full sleeves. It's a very clever feature really. Not only does it set off that super-slim bodice, it also means the wearer can still use her arms. I won't look quite so wasp waisted in my suit (not without a corset... although these model might be wearing some rather hard-core underpinnings themselves) but that is kind of the effect I am going for myself.


  1. It's looking wonderful! I'm excited to see the finished product.

  2. It's really fabulous. Look forward to the finished jacket

  3. It's really fabulous. Look forward to the finished jacket

  4. Oh lovely! I am always curious about pattern-piece shapes, and of course now I want to see more- the whole bodice and the raglan treatment. I'm assuming no need for the gusset with lowered raglan shaping-? Do you think that 2nd to last photo has sleeve pieces that stem out of the neckline? I don't know the term for that kind of raglan or yoked sleeve...Now I must find a name for that.
    Thanks for all your thought-provoking design! -Kimbersew

  5. This is going to be really beautiful Lauriana! your pattern making and tailoring skills are simply the best. The breast pockets look interesting, and are a very nice feature. Very figure flattering too, as you pointed out. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished piece.
    I have to thank you too; you are quite correct that I did not use organza to underline my top, the fabric was actually poly chiffon and I wrote the wrong word by mistake; I don't know what I was thinking! Thank you very much for pointing it out, and I've corrected my post now.

  6. Looks gorgeous so far! I love kimono sleeves. They're so flattering and comfortable!