Notch maps: suit sleeve & armhole

Based on a recent experience, a client and I think this topic could use some airing. My client is not a beginning sewer by any means but she had no point of comparison never having worked with a suit sleeve industrial pattern before.

Before I start, you need to know something pivotal. With industrial patterns, it is absolutely critical that notches match where they are intended to. In industry, notches must match EXACTLY. Not near by, not there abouts, not in a given direction, not kind of sort of near by but EXACTLY. If a notch is off by a whole inch, it is on the order of the bank calling in a loan or the police showing up with a search warrant or something equally horrible. It is an automatic halt to anything going on, this is an emergency and you’re at the front of the line. A notch being off a whole inch is not something you just let slide by. So, if you’re sewing something and notches are off that much, you need to pick up the phone immediately. Phone. Not email. Not later. Now. Are we clear on this?

Anyway, my client has sleeve fitting issues to include length (she sewed the mock up). We still don’t know the final result but the sleeves need to be re-set to match notches. The other issue was sleeve length. She was not aware that notches are used to indicate sleeve hem fold lines. Again no problem unless -picture this horrible scenario- what would have happened if I had not inspected her mock up jacket? I would have shortened the sleeve to match the designer’s instructions and then the style would later have been sewn by a contractor who did turn the hem at the notch and then all of the sleeves would have been too short and the contractor would have been blamed. Or the contractor would have blamed me because they were following the pattern and me, I’d be absolutely baffled because I did what the client said. Somehow, half an inch of sleeve length would have evaporated into the ether. More notes on this further down.

So, below are images illustrating the notch placement on suit sleeves of an industrial pattern. This is also in my book on page 180. The color coding in the images is only for the purposes of clarity. In real life, those little lines are cut outs along the pattern’s edge.





A note on the image above. The double notch may not fall on the side panel or it may not fall on the under sleeve. However, one way or another, there should be a double notch at the back portion of the sleeve and the back portion of the armhole. Double notch =back. You’re looking for logic in the pattern notching, not an absolute.


Last but not least, here is your visual cheat sheet for all combined.


Feel free to ask questions on anything that isn’t clear.

Amended 11/2/11

Re: the sleeve hem difficulty mentioned in the opening. The sleeve hem fold line was notched at 1.5″ from the finished edge. [Meaning, there was another set of notches .375 from the cut edge to show where the sleeve lining was joined to the sleeve end but that’s beside the point.] The designer who made the mock up, turned up about an inch worth of hem rather than 1.5″. So, the sleeve was too long. The designer told me to shorten the sleeve x amount. Now, had I shortened the sleeve without having had the opportunity to examine the mock up to see the full hem allowance had not been taken, once the garment had been sewn by a contractor (who would know to turn the hem at the notches), the sleeves would have been too short. At this point there would be a problem. The designer would be upset with the contractor because (presumably) she would have sewn a new sample from the corrected pattern and it would have been good. The contractor would insist they followed the pattern and be upset with me. I would be dismayed since I did exactly what the designer said.

The problem may not have been discovered until or if I had a chance to measure the contractor’s sample, compare it to the pattern and then of course, I would say that the two matched so there was no problem. The conclusion of the parties involved at that point would have been utter confusion and much finger pointing. The pattern maker (me) and perhaps contractor would think that the designer had changed her mind (without telling anyone) about the sleeve length. And all because no one went back to the sample the designer sewed to see if she’d taken the full allowance.

As a practical matter, the sleeve is probably too long anyway. The point of debate is that we do not know how much too long it is because the full hem allowance was not taken.

An aside with respect to the depth of sleeve hem:  A hem allowance of 1.5″ is not a boiler plate amount. The depth of hem is often dictated by price points and whether it is lined. If the garment is lower cost (moderate or less), a hem allowance of 1″ to 1.25″ might be more typical. This particular jacket is contemporary to better so it should have a deeper hem allowance.

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