How to remove sleeve cap ease

If you thought I’d departed permanently, no such luck. As you may recall, I’ve been away, training with my new CAD system StyleCAD (I like it a lot). That session finished Tuesday evening. Since then I’ve been catching up and practicing my skills -such as they are- on various styles. One of which is the aforementioned sport coat project.

If you recall, I’d written an entry about how to reshape armholes. Reshaping armholes is the first step to a nice fitting sleeve. It is only once the armhole is shaped to fit a human body and the normal range of motion (see pgs 166-168 of my book), that the sleeve can be reshaped -because as I’ve mentioned, sleeve cap ease is bogus. The latter amounts to a work around to compensate for a poorly designed sleeve and armhole. Truthfully, well designed sleeves are difficult so I can understand why they’re given short thrift particularly in value priced lines. In suits and coats though, it becomes more critical regardless of price point.

In the forum I updated the ongoing thread with a screen capture of the new armhole design. A picture of the result -courtesy of my new software (doesn’t this look so much cleaner?)- appears below. There is also a slightly larger version of the image.


I will begin attempting to document the redesign of the sleeve to remove unnecessary ease as best as I can. Unfortunately, sleeve design can be something of an art in that it is an accumulation of experience and refined eye which is a round about way of saying I lack the means to articulate what needs to be done. Wish me luck!

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  1. Lisa Laree says:

    Absolutely I wish you luck!! Mostly because I intend to hang on your every word and learn something of the mysteries of sleeve fitting ;-) …thanks so much for going to the trouble of documenting the process!!!

  2. Suzy says:

    Good luck! A good fitting armhole/sleeve cap is near and dear to my heart! I’m certainly not an expert pattern maker, but it always seems to me that a well shaped and what would probably be considered a ‘tight’ (tight being relative to the type of garment) armhole (and sleeve) creates a much nicer looking garment. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but it also allows for better range of motion. Have fun, it’ll be fun to follow.

  3. Colleen says:

    Me, too. Ill fitting sleeves (and rises) are one of my pet peeves.

    My quick fix is to raise the armhole, re-shape and adjust sleeve cap accordingly. This greatly improves “lift” and mobility.

  4. Donna says:

    No matter how many different drafts I try I always end up with some ease. I think it is because the cap height for me should be shorter than most draft instructions and the fact that my biceps are a bit on the chunky side.This is one article I will really be waiting for.

  5. dosfashionistas says:

    Like Donna, I am especially interested in how you arrive at sufficient bicep room (think plus sizes) without some ease. And how you cut the pattern to fit the sleeve cap into the shoulder when the arm rounds out as it does on those of us with more padding.

  6. Mary L. says:

    Ugh! Armholes! I’m glad I’m not the only one tortured by armholes and sleeves. Nothing makes me more insecure. I thought I should have it down for as long as I’ve been doing this stuff! The only thing worse is armholes from overseas vendors, photos of those would give you horrific nightmares. I so love the armhole/sleeve posts…

  7. Quincunx says:

    Hey! Didn’t that coat formerly have a separate side back panel? Not that it would be easy to get a functional seam to intersect the back armhole curve as it now stands, but I can’t help but think that’s cheating somehow. . .

    Articulation of the post to come: will the sleeve be re-drawn entirely with references from the new armhole (can I call it an armscye or is that another home sewing term creeping in at the edges?) or will changes be applied to the existing sleeve and then compared to the new armhole? Is “matching” the slope of the sleeve and the slope of the armhole at any point A Good Thing or A Bad Thing? And, bonus question for people who are -not- able to visualize the 2D pieces in 3D but who have a talented pen, that part of the armhole from the far right (jutting out furthest into the front) down to the side seam. . .it pokes out like a long crotch hook on pants and how the heck is that accommodated in a piece meant to match it?

    . . .tell me I’m not the only one who thinks the new armhole curve front to back looks like a crotch curve back to front. Please. Even if it’s someone whose hips are akin to a peanut.

  8. It is not really important but I still wonder if there might be body types that need the sleeve cap ease?
    I never ever had a fitting sleeve for myself that didn’t have ease. To remove it would often be advantageous (mostly for silk fabrics) but I either end up with shoulders that are to wide, an armhole that gapes or, if the other two fit, with a sleeve that doesn’t allow movement or is to narrow at the upper arm even without movement.

    Or my perception of “good fit” is completely wrong?

  9. Donna says:

    I’m reading an historical novel that describes woman’s clothing in the 1700’s as consisting of skirts, bodices/waists and sleeves that were tied or buttoned to the garment. I wonder if these sleeves had ease? It might be interesting to see the evolution of sleeves.

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