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Adding Ease to a Sleeve

I’m in the middle of making up a toile for my Twin Peaks inspired dress as a part of the 2-in-1 Sewalong.  I’d had in my head all along that I wanted the sleeves on mine to be a bit puffier than those included in the pattern.  I searched high and low all over the internet, but I couldn’t find any information on adding ease to the sleeve of a commercial pattern.  So I asked my sewing teacher, Cathy, for a quick how-to last week, and today I thought I’d share the process, just in case there is anyone else out there looking, but not finding. 


A few things before we start:

This was my first time adding ease to a sleeve, so forgive me if the details aren’t perfect  :p

I’m adding 5cm of ease to this sleeve, but you can obviously add as little or as much as you’d like

The pattern piece I’m using is the cap sleeve from  Simplicity 1880

I recently found this really awesome tracing/ tissue paper at Clegs (also available here), and it is brilliant, especially for things like this


O.K, let’s get this show on the road!


1.       Start by tracing off the sleeve, including all of the printed markings like notches, grainline etc.

2.       Draw a line, at right angles, from top to bottom, through the sleeve.  I made my first and last lines on the inside of the notches.  Then I divided this into two by drawing a line through the centre, and then I divided each of the sections evenly in two.  I found it helpful to extend the lines well beyond the sleeve (this will become clear once we start pivoting).

3.       Because I’m adding an overall amount of 5cm to the sleeve, I will pivot each section by 1cm.  I’ve made a mark 1cm from the right side of each dissecting line.  Look closely and you can make them out.

4.        Cut a square of tracing paper roughly twice the size of the original sleeve piece.  When you start tracing, position your paper in the bottom left hand corner.

5.       Trace off the first section of the sleeve, remembering to add all markings, including that mark 1cm to the right of the line.

6.       Using the tip of your pen or pencil, pivot the top paper to the left, until the 1cm mark is on top of the first line.  (You can see that the mark is now above the original line of the sleeve which is why it’s a good idea to make those dissecting lines a bit longer)

7.       Trace off the second section, and pivot 1cm to the left.  Continue in this manner till you have traced and pivoted each section.  Don’t forget to add all the markings.  You can see that I’ve kept the 2 outer small circles in their original position but have made sure that the centre circle is in the middle of the 3rd and 4th pieces.


8.       Once you have traced off all the pieces, you will need to smooth out the outer curves of your new pattern piece


9.       Now you can trace off your new pattern piece! Done!

So far the only images I have of the finished product are from the toile of my shirt dress, but you can still see what a difference it makes to the overall look of the sleeve. 


Any questions/ comments/ alternate methods?