Sleeve cap ease is bogus pt.2

Last November, I published Sleeve cap ease is bogus, making the argument that horizontal stripe matching would be impossible were there ease in the sleeve cap. In spite of providing the proof of such and offering pattern suggestions -because I’ve certainly done it enough myself- my claim that sleeve cap ease is not needed became a hotly debated topic in the forum. One person even suggested that in order to affect the match stripe across the sleeve and body, designers were using a different fabric with wider width of stripes for the sleeves! No one really made much of that idea but then it was proposed that only an exaggeratedly extended shoulder line would permit a horizontal match stripe -to which I also disagreed. However, I did concede that a match stripe would be difficult to effect on someone who was obese. As my reasoning -and personal experience- went, it is difficult to make a sleeve match in which the bicep girth exceeds the total measure of the armhole. Then on Monday, the NY Times published a photographic proof that even someone who is obese could find a jacket with a horizontal match stripe across the sleeve. I offer into evidence, this photo of the Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, who is definitely not height and weight proportionate.

Claudio Santana/Associated Press
[Typically, one is not permitted to reprint copyrighted material without permission except in cases of critical review and I’d think this article definitely meets that test.]

From the photo you can see that the shoulder line of her jacket is not extended. If anything, it’s rather short. Still, you can see the bicep line is tight; the jacket is too small for her. For the sleeve to fit her bicep, the armhole would have to be larger in order to effect the matching stripe (without sleeve cap ease of course). The problem with that being that if the armhole were larger, it’d negatively impact her range of motion (see pp. 163-169 of the entrepreneur’s guide). She really should be wearing another size larger.

To reiterate: sleeve cap ease is not necessary provided both the sleeve and armhole are drafted according to anatomical dictates. In fact, one cannot effect a match stripe across the sleeve if there is ease in the sleeve cap. No one suggests this is easy and simple to draft which is why you don’t see it very often. I’ve been wanting to make a jacket like this to show all of you but I’m finding it difficult to locate goods with the stripe running cross grain. Being that this is so difficult, men’s suiting is rarely woven in this manner. Any suggestions for sources of summer weights -preferably linen or raw silk- online? DH needs a new jacket anyway.

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  1. J C Sprowls says:

    My fave eBay seller of mill ends is: how6955, and his eBay store can be found here. I haven’t seen any horizontal stripe fabrics, yet; but, he does have a beautiful silk/linen herringbone that I’ve been eyeing. Too bad it’s not in my color, tho’

    As for other menswear fabric purveyors, I typically order full bolts from Holland & Sherry or Scabal by special request. I don’t recall seeing any horizontal strip in the swatch cards for Summer ’06, though. But, they’re deep in a box, somewhere…

    Hmm… how about B Black and Sons ( Not much on the site; but, what about what’s on the racks? You’d have to give them a call :-(

  2. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for the tip JC! I’m sure people will appreciate that resource. I looked and he’s got lots of nice wools and wool blends. Since I’m thinking of a casual summer jacket, I’d like to stay away from wools (it was over 100 degrees yesterday).

    I’m thinking a solution would be to use a traditional stripe but cut the jacket on the crossgrain. Btw, the crossgrain is the more stable grain (think about it) so this isn’t a problem except as defined by allocation (higher). If I go that route, there’s a place in DT El Paso that sells suitings for the local tailors among other piece goods.

  3. La BellaDonna says:

    I have a lovely horizontally striped silk and wool blend, but I think your DH might not want a summer jacket in one-inch wide pink and white stripes. Actually, I was a bit aggrieved when I realized it WAS horizontally striped, and not vertically, since that was going to affect my construction plans significantly.

    If I were faced with the prospect of a significantly plaid fabric, which is what Mme. President is wearing (even though the dominant stripe is beautifully matched), I’d probably cut the sleeves on the bias to circumnavigate that problem. Or I’d cut a different type of sleeve altogether. It interests me especially, as I have the same problem she has – I think her jacket fits beautifully, except for the sleeve, which is too tight. The neck lies beautifully, the buttons don’t pull or gap, there are no weird diagonal pulls or dips in the body of the jacket; the sleeve alone is the problem, as it so often is with me (well, it is with her; with me, it’s the sleeves, which are usually too tight and too short, and the backs are too wide and too long, and the fronts are too short …). It’s not easy to find a tailored suit with standard sleeves which fits well if you have non-standard arms (although I would think that the president of a country could have hers custom made). Of course, it’s not easy to find a tailored suit that fits well if you have any non-standard body parts, but sleeves seem to be the most unforgiving area, and there are generally very few options offered in the way of sleeves – although nowadays, if women want, they can buy suit jackets with short puffed sleeves which end in tight bands. And they are beyond horrible.

  4. Carol Kimball says:

    I’ve never had difficulty getting a stripe to match across the upper torso/sleeve cap, but I’ve yet to see an example where the side seams also matched unless the pattern repeat was exactly the amount of discrepancy between the ergonomic shoulder front and back.

    Chanel was famous for having fabric woven to her specs (as were some of the other couture houses). I have photos of some of her jackets with exactly this repeat that match at all seams. Making different sections for the sleeves wouldn’t have been necessary.

    I am very, very interested in seeing samples.

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    Wait a second… You know of a resource in El Paso?

    I’m still geting situated, here, in Denver. And, Carol has been extremely helpful. But, it will be a while before I’m out & about tracking down resources and local suppliers.

    Would you mind letting me know when you plan to be in El Paso, next? I would appreciate if I could send you some money to beg for some swatches on my behalf. They don’t have to be specific – I just want to get a sense for what they stock. I can call them to see what’s in inventory when I need it. I mention this in lieu of a catalogue, which, I’d gladly take if they had one.

    I like playing with fabric pattern and grain, too. Though, I’ve left that on the back burner for a long time. I once made a suit in the early 90s from a beautiful wool (I think it was gabardine?). It had a tone-on-tone pinstripe/wale (maybe 3 threads wide) about 1mm apart. I cut the entire suit on bias so it V’d at the center front and center back.

    What was great about the fabric was the pinstripe/wale was so close together that it wasn’t immediately noticeable until you were within the 3-foot personal space threshold. Matching the pattern along the shoulder seam didn’t go as well as I had hoped; but, it was an experiment in earlier times.

    I’m sitting back to see how this whole ‘shoulder sleeve ease is bogus’ debate pans out. I find the conflicting POV intriguing. Once the dust has settled, I’ll collect and review all the arguments and set up several exercises for myself.

  6. Lori says:

    As a home sewer I’m wondering if the armhole doesn’t have to to be altered to accommodate the new shape of the sleeve cap. After years of fighting with sleeve caps, I’d love to try this method.

  7. Art Seaton says:

    Hi, Kathleen,

    Perhaps you remember me, I’m the one who made the comment about “camel toe panties.” In this post you asked if there was a source for summer weight material on line with both a vertical and a horizontal nap. I believe that the house of tartan can provide this. Their cloths are, of course, tartans – which are plaids. They make several in a summer worsted weight and even, I believe, make some in silk. So, if you don’t mind DH standing out like a Scotsman, and have the funds to purchase their stuffs (they’re quite expensive – as I recall) you should be able to find something suitable with them. I don’t remember the URL, but you can find them with google.

    Good luck,


  8. Barbara Ferron says:

    I have found similar results in exploring how to fit a sleeve. Like how the armhole is not round or oval but flat on the underarm. Where can I find directions on how to draft the kind of armhole and sleeve you are talking about here?

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