The great cap sleeve debate

favorite_shirt_capped_sleeveSays L who works for a sporting goods manufacturer:

We love your site here at work. Can you settle a debate on cap sleeves, both woven and knit?

Our senior is an amazing patternmaker, we’re just not all on the same page. Our senior insists that cap sleeves be drafted as in Aldrich’s pattern book by spreading from the cap and having a straight line at the hem. Our samples are coming in with sleeves that wing out at the hem. Our senior is strictly adhering to this method and thinks that the hem of a cap sleeve should NEVER be curved. However, when we look at our sample and manipulate it on the form, we see that this would be a simple solution. Please please please help us! We’re waiting with bated breath for this post, then we’re gonna print it and plaster it all over our office. Just kidding!

This is what I wrote to L:

Which Aldrich book is this? And which page of which edition? I’m not finding it.

I didn’t know it was possible to have a capped sleeve with a straight hem. I’m rather partial to cap sleeves (so I have a few personal patterns with them). I think they’re flattering and more comfortable than the traditional short sleeve. None of my cap sleeves have the straight hem.

So now it’s your turn to either confirm or deny any and everything I’ve said.

Or maybe we disagree on what a sleeve cap is? At top right is a shirt I made with a cap sleeve. It is a bit longer than is typical but it is the draft (in my opinion) that determines whether it is or not because the sleeve hem is curved. Oh wait, that’s not right either. Plenty of long sleeves have curved hems (or did in the olden days). So maybe this image (A below) is a better choice.


But eek! this undoubtedly (?) capped sleeve (B above) has a straight hem although it doesn’t sew completely into the armhole either. Which brings me to what is sure to be a source of raucous debate- I’d call this one (C) a short sleeve, not a cap sleeve even though it is claimed to be one. Oh my, now I’m becoming very confused.

So then I thought, a capped sleeve could be defined by fit (see the photo of my blue shirt on me) but that doesn’t hold either. Now I’m not sure what a capped sleeve is or how you’re supposed to draft it.

Not wanting to be accused of sophistry, is it possible that we could we agree that a cap sleeve is a short-ish sleeve? If so, the only issue is a matter of fit. If you want a sleeve that hugs the upper arm just below the shoulder point, you will probably have to draft it with a curved hem (if it sews completely into the armhole, not like B above). If you don’t care that it wings out on the sides or even want that effect, you could draft the hem as a straight line.

What do you think?

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