The Year of the Sleeve

November 15, 2017
The Year of the Sleeve
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Hello, I'm Kate of Sewing with Kate and today I am guest blogging here for MaaiDesign. 

Did you know, this year has been deemed, 'The Year of the Sleeve’? 

There has been some amazingly inspirational pieces on Instagram this year, especially in our sewing community.  The Year of the Sleeve was initially instigated by Ryliss Bod of the Sewing and Design School in Washington. She started collecting and posting some sleeve designs earlier this year. Here are some of my favourites, all massively OTT and wonderful.


With sleeve inspiration in abundance, I thought this could be a good opportunity to show how to hack a simple pattern to give that statement sleeve. One of my favourite fabrics to sew is knit, this is because I love my overlocker and I particularly love making sweatshirts.  I love the versatility of a sweatshirt when it comes to making it your own.

I chose to use the 'See you at Six french terry fabric called Scribbles (now sold out).  I really love the off-white background with the ochre, cedar wood, arona blue and black pattern marks.  It’s super soft to touch and matches perfectly with the stormy blue ribbing. I think this fabric works well for both adults and children I say this because I have made both, mother and daughter versions.


The 'balloon' sleeve sweatshirt

I found this image on pinterest and fell in love.  It is a very simple hack to produce a really lovely sleeve detail.


The first step was to test the fabric and how it worked with gathering. I tested the fabric by cutting a strip and marking a 20cm length (see purple pen lines).  I then stitched 2 rows of gathers and pulled it into the required look.  I wanted quite a lot of volume so I pushed it as far as I could.   I then measured between the 2 marks, it now measured 10cm.  Hooray, some simple maths is all that’s required now to draft the pattern piece.

I started with a favourite pattern, the sweater dress by In the Folds, it’s a free pattern from Peppermint Magazine.  I have made it many times before and it works well and the fit is very good. I traced out a size 8, ignored the pockets and hacked it into a sweater length.

Then to the sleeves, the diagrams below explain how I drafted it.  It’s super easy.


I measured 10cm from each armhole point and then measured across, my measurement was 32.5cm.  At this point I cut the sleeve from the bottom to create the top sleeve panel,  I added a 1cm seam allowance and drafted the bottom sleeve panel, this is essentially a rectangle.  As I had tested the fabric, I just had to double the width of the 32.5cm to produce the bottom sleeve panel of 65cm.  I then added a 1cm seam allowance to the top edge of the bottom sleeve panel.

Then it’s a case of preparing the sleeve by gathering the top part of the rectangle onto the bottom part of the sleeve head.


I decided to gather the bottom of the rectangle which attaches to the cuff.  There is a lot of fabric to be added to the cuff so gathering helps to distribute it a little more evenly.


That’s it, billowing sleeves on a simple sweatshirt.  It just adds the right kind of everyday drama, don’t you think?






The 'ruffle' sleeve sweatshirt

The daughter version is similar in concept, but instead of volume I wanted to insert a playful ruffle. I used the Titchy Thread Rowan Tee pattern.  I have again, made this many times before.  It’s such a great pattern and super simple to sew. I made a size 6.

The diagrams below explain how I drafted this element. Again, a super easy idea.


I started by laying the short sleeve pattern piece on top of the long sleeve pattern piece, I drew a line at the base of the short sleeve piece to give me a position for the ruffle to sit.  I then cut the sleeve at this point and added seam allowance onto the top and bottom sleeve panel. I added 1cm seam allowance.  I finally drafted a ruffle piece by measuring the width of the top sleeve, 24cm in this case.  The ruffle was doubled, using the previous formula, to 48cm.  I decided upon a 5cm deep ruffle, 1cm seam allowance is added to the top part.

I finished the hem of the ruffle first, I thought this would be a little easier than finishing it insitu.  I overlocked the edge and then turned under a small hem and finished with a double row of stitches using my twin needle.


I then gathered the ruffle and basted it to the top sleeve panel.


I then basted in place the bottom sleeve panel and finally overlocked all the pieces together.  I finished the sweatshirt as per the instructions.






As I am without a daughter I had to bribe my youngest's friend, Roxy.  Thanks lovely lady for modelling!  

I really love both of these hacks. I think they are a really easy way of adding something special to a simple sweatshirt pattern. It's a shame they are destined for colder climates, they are Christmas presents for my sister and niece in England. So, could these be the alternative Christmas jumpers? 

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