Today I am going to explain how to cut the sleeves of a corset. You must have already accustomed yourself to the fact that I’m not a fan of complex constructions – I used to deal with them a lot as a student, when I had lots of spare time.
Let me teach you a very simple but effective cutting method that I use. Spread the fingers of your left hand and place it on a piece of paper. Now take a pen or a pencil and draw a line following the fingertips. Doesn’t it look like a sleeve cap? What’s funny, it really does make a perfect sleeve cap pattern. I have tested it multiple times and it sits very well. It is particularly handy for working on children’s clothing!
Let’s see how the sleeve cap pattern corresponds to our measurements. Let us check the scye circumference. This line should equal the scye circumference measurement +1-2cm (and don’t forget to account for seam allowances).
Now let’s check how full the arm is. Mark reference points in accordance with the arm fullness measurement you’ve taken. The middle finger of your hand is the top of the sleeve cap so if the arm is fuller, you’ll need to make the top of the sleeve cap wider, too. You’ll be able to tell how much the pattern should be changed.
Now let’s look at the upper arm circumference. You’ll need to mark the required length – say, 32cm –check it and add the seam allowances. Now the shape of the sleeve cap looks like this. Don’t worry – you won’t have any problems sewing it in. It will fit very well.
This point on the pattern marks the shoulder seam. I fold the piece of paper in half and make markings at the same level and with the same intervals. First I mark the length of the upper arm down the middle line (the fold line). Next I mark a half of the elbow circumference measurement to the left and to the right of that point. I continue by marking the sleeve length on the fold line. And again, I mark ½ of the elbow circumference measurement to the left and to the right of it. That’s all! All you need to do now is connect the points with a straight or curved line depending on the model. Fold the pattern in half once more to double-check it and make sure all reference points match. The sleeve is ready! Quick and easy!
Now we need to draw the scye on the corset. Find the point where the scye begins to round off on the back of the corset. Let’s draw the outline of the scye. Don’t forget that you’ll have a strap attached there, too. Next you should do the same at the front of the corset. Using the clip measurement we determine the location of the corner that should be brought to the scye in order to sew in the sleeve. You can adjust the location of this line in accordance with the clip measurement.
Now all we need to do is cut wide straps. Their width should equal the shoulder length. I recommend that you should first put the corset on your client and then determine the right location of the strap and pin it in place. The seam attaching the straps at the front and at the back can be decorated with lace, drapery or fabric flowers.
Why am I describing the method that involves separately cut straps? It is simply the most convenient and the easiest way possible! So I try to use separately cut straps whenever I have the opportunity to do so.
Sure I have a great pattern of a sleeve corset that I polished up for about a year until everything was perfect. But you can feel free to start with the method I have just described.
And now let us discuss the situation when the corset is supposed to have both sleeves and a collar. I recommend that you stick to the following algorithm. Follow the traditional method to build the shoulder part of the blouse – down to the bust level at the front and down to the waistline at the back. Next you should sew a mock-up. When your clients comes for a fitting test, put the mock-up on her and lace it up very properly so that it sits the way it’s supposed to sit when finished. Please note that any distortion of the mock-up on the body is inacceptable! If the client doesn’t feel comfortable in the mock-up, it means something doesn’t sit right! Don’t be lazy to unlace it, adjust it, examine it, locate it comfortably and lace it up again. Never try to adjust the way the corset sits without unlacing it!
Once you’ve put the corset on your client correctly, put a sewn blouse over it. Don’t join the side seams on the blouse – only the shoulder seams should be sewn. And now carefully secure the blouse on the corset using a generous amount of pins. Be particularly precise with the location of the shoulder seams. Mark any inaccuracies with pins right upon noticing them. Spare no pins and secure the blouse along the entire edge of the corset starting from the scye. Make sure the construction doesn’t fall apart when the client takes it off. That’s all. After making precise markings you should simply trim any extra fabric and sew the blouse to the corset. There are various joining methods and the choice depends on how you plan to finish the garment. If you’re going to disguise this seam with some decoration later, you can machine-stitch the blouse along the edges of the corset after overlocking all open edges including the scye. If you have some other plans, it might make sense to attach the blouse by neat hand stitches. Once you’ve attached the blouse to the corset, sew the seam of the sleeve and sew the sleeve into the scye as per usual.
To sum it all up I’d like to show you several pictures of my client in her dress with sleeves. I have used Venetian lace for the sleeves: it is based on soft stretch mesh fabric. That makes the dress really comfortable to wear! My client can raise and move her arms freely and – what’s most important –the straps stay in place securely. If the corset rose up together with the sleeves, so would the straps.
And I’d like to repeat it one more time: it's best to sew the sleeves of a corset with elastic materials, such as openwork fabric, lace or guipure. One-way stretch fabric can be represented by stretch satin or stretch taffeta. If you use chiffon, crepe, non-stretch satin or other non-stretch fabric, you should cut it on the bias.
Don’t use any fabric of unsuitable colors or texture or else neither your client nor you will be happy with the final result!
Thanks for your attention. Until next time!