One of the most common issues curvy women have with sewing patterns is finding the sleeves are too tight, so today I’m bringing you an easy tutorial that will help you adjust any one-piece sleeve – and any Cashmerette Pattern with sleeves.
Before you do this adjustment, check out if there’s already an adjusted sleeve piece available! At Cashmerette, we have full bicep sleeves available for the Montrose Top Pattern, and the Harrison Shirt Pattern.
Measure your arm and the pattern
First, you need to determine how much extra space you need in the sleeve. Measure the fullest part of your arm – typically that’s your bicep next to your armpit. Now, compare that with your pattern. Some patterns (like the Harrison Shirt) have bicep measurements available on the packet, but if not, you can measure the sleeve pattern piece across the largest point. Remember if it’s a knit pattern there may be some negative ease, so the pattern piece will be significantly smaller than your arm. Decide how much ease you want in your sleeve (1 – 3 inches is fairly typical), then do your calculation:
Amount to add = arm circumference – pattern circumference + desired ease.
How to make sleeves larger approach 1: If you have 1 inch or less to add
- Draw a line from the top notch of the sleeve cap down to the sleeve hem, parallel with the grainline. Then, draw a line that crosses this one at a 90 degree angle, across the widest part of the sleeve.
- Cut the first line from the hem all the way up, stopping at the sleeve cap seam allowance (leaving a little hinge). Cut the second line, starting at the middle and working out, again stopping at the seam allowance on each side.
3. Pin (or tape) the bottom of the sleeve piece, either side of the cut. Now, spread each of the four pieces outwards, creating a space down the middle of the sleeve. The top pieces will overlap the bottom pieces a bit – that’s ok! Continue spreading until the widest part of the gap at the bicep equals the amount of extra space you need.
4. Place a piece of paper behind the gap you created, and tape it down to the pattern.
5. Smooth out the sleeve gap so it is a nice curve again, and even up the sleeve hem.
6. Place a piece of tracing paper over the pattern piece, and trace off your final adjusted piece.
How to make sleeves larger approach 2: If you have over 1 inch to add
- Trace the original pattern sleeve cap onto a piece of paper.
2. Follow the steps above, spreading the pieces out to add the extra width you need.
3. Place your adjusted sleeve on top of the traced sleeve cap, and even up the sleeve hem.
4. Trace the new pattern piece.
5. As you added some length to the sleeve cap, you’ll need to adjust your armscye (armhole) accordingly – the two easiest ways to do this are to deepen the armhole and/or add to the underarm seam.
So that’s how to make sleeves larger – let me know if you have any questions!
Looking for other tutorials? Check out our full tutorials page.