Sunday, June 18, 2017

Return to Camelot

One of the things we noticed about fashion month was how pretty the sleeves were. After years of bare arms or straight sleeves, we are finally returning to fashions were sleeves make a statement. This evokes memories of  the early 1960's, a time when Americans carried on a love affair with Jackie Kennedy, the British were all agog with Carnaby Street "kicky" styles  and everything seemed so sweet and romantic. It was a time when dresses were pretty thanks, in part, to the graceful sleeves that adorned them.

Be forewarned.....this post is LONG! (But it is something many of you have been waiting for!) As with all vacations that come to an end, it took me a while to get back in the groove and it's hard to work with a heatwave in progress. But once I found my know me by now....there was no stopping the flow of ideas. I wanted a little something for everything, so while there are techniques for advanced dolly designers, there are also a few suggestions for the newbies who simply want to get in on the action without the sweat and turmoil. If you have not already made anything with sleeves, you might want to FIRST consult our tutorial on making a basic sleeve sloper by clicking HERE. And you need to review how to set in sleeves for dolly clothes by clicking HERE.

For Whom The Bell Tows

We'll begin this tutorial with the bell sleeve, named after it's shape that is narrow at the shoulders, swinging wide over the wrists. We start with the basic sleeve sloper with straight sides. If your sleeve sloper looks anything different from the one on the left below, you will need to modify it.

Move the (underarm) side seams so that they run at right angles to the hem (lines in red).

The Basic Draft

1. Using the hem as a guide, divide the sleeve sloper into four parts. Trace off onto paper.
2. On the paper, draw a vertical line, then lie your sleeve onto this line. Slash to within 1/16 inch (2mm). Tape the tip of the sleeve point onto the paper and spread the four sections so that the space is equal between each of the four sections. For my sleeve, I've spread them out 2 inches (5.5cm) of each other. You can choose to put more or less space between each section depending on the effect you wish to achieve.
3. Trace around this form to create your pattern.
4. Add seam allowance for your pattern.

For the next couple of dresses, I used the shift and the tent dress. The tutorial was featured in the post, "The Shift, The Tent & A Nod to Lily Pulitzer" which you will find by clicking HERE. The fabric is already pleated. You lay it out the same way as any other flat fabric, being careful not to distort the initial pattern as you cut and sew. Note: Since this fabric is a polyester, I flamed sealed the edges to keep them from fraying. You'll find that technique by clicking HERE.

Each dress is made separately and is joined only at the neck.

1. Begin by completely stitching together the outer dress completely with sleeves in the usual manner. Don't do anything with the neckline yet. Separately, complete the under dress except for the neckline as well.
2. We will now join the two dresses at the neckline. The under dress is not a lining, but a separate dress attached to the over dress. (I don't want the seams to show through the sheer outer layers). So when you are joining the two together, note that the finished side of the underdress as well as the right side of the over dress will both face outwards. The raw seams will be facing the body. However, the seam at the neckline will face down, thus creating a finished edge.
3. Tack the armholes of the inner dress to the sleeve seams of the outer dress so they stay together. 

In a variation of the same pattern, I have created a sleeve with a very pretty ruffled cuff. This is a basic sheath dress (click HERE for instructions), worn under a sheer tent coat. In this case, the two are separate items.

Begin by following the first 4 steps of the bell sleeve as explained above in "The Basic Draft."

5. For the effect I wanted, I lengthened my pattern two inches .
6. For the "cuff" I stitched in 3 rows of elasticized sheering as explained in the tutorial you'll find HERE. Set the sleeve in like any other sleeve and complete your garment.

Monica on Trumpet
If these sleeves look vaguely familiar, it's because, they are pretty similar to the bell bottoms we made a couple years ago. In essence, whatever you can do to a pant leg, you can do with a sleeve and vice versa!

Let's first determine where the elbow length falls.
Line up your doll against the sleeve sloper you've created for her.
Note where the elbow falls and mark this with a (red) horizontal line.
Also note that the right side of the sleeve is the FRONT, while the left side is the back. (We are making this sleeve in two parts so this is important to note.)

1. Using tracing paper, trace along the length of the center line, around the crown and down the underarm seam to the elbow line. Take a compass, put the needle point at the elbow line and the pencil down to the hem.

2. Draw an arc up from the hem, parallel to the elbow line.

3. Draw a horizontal line from this elbow point on the sleeve out to the arc.

4. For the moment, the end result should look like this.

5. Extend the elbow line to the left.

6. Using your compass, place the needle point at the elbow line on the center sleeve line. Stretch it so that the pencil point reaches the hem. Now draw an arc from the hem up to a point parallel to the elbow point.

The finished Front Sleeve pattern should look like this. Add seam allowance and set aside.

Repeat for the back half of the sleeve.

8. Trace along the center sleeve line, along the sleeve cap to the left and down to the elbow line. Place the compass needle on the elbow point on the underarm seam and stretch it until the pencil point falls on the hem. Draw an arc upwards until it is parallel to the elbow point.
9. Extend the elbow line to the right.
10. Place the compass needle on the elbow point of the center sleeve line. Stretch the pencil point until it reaches the hem and draw an arc up until it is parallel to the elbow point. Draw a horizontal line to join the two points along the elbow line. Add seam allowance to your draft.
11. Here is what the pattern for the one sleeve will look like. It sews up like this:

 12. Put the front sleeve together with the back sleeve and stitch down the center sleeve seam until you get to the elbow point. Make a right hand turn with her sewing machine (or your hand sewing) and continue stitching to the end. Clip down to 1/16" (2mm) away from the stitch line.

13. Press along the center sleeve seam. In effect, we have created a full circle  from the elbows out!

14, As usual with set in sleeves, be sure to put a running stitch at the crown to ease the sleeve into the armhole.

15. Be sure to line the center sleeve seam up with the shoulder seam of the garment.
16. Again, lay out the dress as usual and stitch together.

17. The underarm seams you will be stitching together look like this (red dotted line).

If this seams a little too overwhelming for some of you, I've got a few simpler solutions. Instead of making modifications to the sleeve pattern, think of add-ons.

 A little lace goes a long way in the direction of Camelot!
I simply gathered a strip of 1 inch (2.5cm) lace and tacked it onto a slim sleeve for this very pretty look. By the way...that's a little scarf made from trim around her neck. Click HERE to see it up close.

 You can also start off with a basic short sleeve and gather a bit of fabric to the hemline. It's simple

1. Start out by cutting down your sleeve to the short length of your choice. Cut a separate rectangle 2-2 1/2 times the width of the sleeve hem,

2. Make a double row of running stitches. (Two rows make is easier to create even ruffles.) Place upside down against the hemline of the sleeve and pin in place.

3. This is what it looks like on the other side.

4. The raw edges of the bottom section will face up. Remove the bottom running stitch.

5. Voila, the end result. Attached the garment and sew as usual.

The Saint Laurent dress from the Fall/Winter 2017 collection drew quite a bit of attention. I promised I'd share my shortcut for the sleeves and here it is.

Under ordinary circumstances, this sleeve is made in three parts: the narrow part of an elbow length sleeve, a pouf gathered into the bottom of that sleeve and a cuff. You might still want to make such a complex structure if you are working in sheer materials, however for opaque fabrics, I used a simpler method: a pouf attached to a regular, narrow tube.

1. This begins with a sleeve attached to a completed garment and a rectangle measuring 3 1/2 x 3 1/2" (6.5x16.75 cm) In my original St. Laurent dress, I used stretch velvet which doesn't fray, so I was able to leave the edges as is. However, if you are using any other woven material, I suggest turning under and sewing or gluing the top and bottom edges. Make a row of running stitches along both edges.
2. Fold in half and stitch, thus creating a single (back) seam.
3. Draw the thread to create gathers at the top.
4. Draw the thread at the bottom to create gathers.
5.Slide this over the sleeve and pin in place where you want, adjusting the gathers to fit. If this is not on the doll's arm, you can use a pencil or paint brush handle to hold the sleeve in place as you work.
6. Stitch the puff along the stitching line on the top and bottom.

You can use a smaller or larger pouf depending on the fabric you use or the effect you wish to create.
As I said before, the stretch velvet used for Giselle's dress allowed me to work without having to roll down the edges of the pouf.
Following the steps listed above, I attached the pouf onto the slim sleeve by tacking it on along the gathered stitches at the top and bottom. But you may want to cover the top edge, So, I tied a narrow strip of the velvet and tied it over the stitches. You can simply tack on a tiny bit of ribbon and sew over the gathers to hide the stitches, as well.

An Audience with the Bishop

I've saved the most complicated for last. This is a classic bishop sleeve. Similar to the shirt sleeve, the it's body is voluminous and gathered into a cuff. Begin this sleeve by going back to the first four steps listed in The Basic Draft at the top of this post.

1. Look at the hemline of your sleeve and imagine it divided into into four equal parts. Draw a 3/4" line perpendicular to the hem on the left side (the back) of the sleeve.
2. Next, cut a small placket--a rectangle roughly 1/2" (1cm) by 2" (5.5cm) long.
3. Cut out your pattern and slash. Remember that you are cutting two sleeves and the slash you make will fall on each sleeve's back quadrant.
4, Take your sleeve and open the slash so it is completely horizontal. Pin the placket along that edge. On one side it will look like this.
5. On the other side, it looks like this. Pretty much uniform.
6. Stitch 1/8" away from the edge of the placket. As you can see (by the blue dotted line I've added) the edge of the slash opening is not as straight, it will dip in the middle. What's important is that you align everything so that your stitches are parallel to the edge of the placket. It will look like this on the sleeve edge.
7. But on the placket, it should look like this.
8. Slash at that mid point (of your sleeve slash point).
9. Remove a slither of the excess.
10. Turn the placket under at the stitching line and press.
11. On the front of the sleeve, fold this over itself and press.
12. Turn down the edge of the placket and stitch. Press.
13. Note how this looks, when you fold the opening shut. It's as if you are folding the placket down.
14. This is what it looks like on the back. The top will stand away from the surface.
15. Now, lay out your garment as usual, setting in the sleeves. Complete the rest of the garment.
16. Make a double row of running stitches just above the edge of the hem of the sleeve.
17. Now, let's make a cuff. I used a tiny piece of paper to measure the doll's wrist. Wrap it so that it's slightly loose. Note down that number and add 50% of that length. Factor in the seam allowance times 2.  Decide how long you want your cuff + seam allowance, then multiply this by 2. The cuff for my Barbie is roughly 1-3/4 x 1-3/8" (6 x 3.5 cm)
18. Stitch down both side edges and turn right side out. Press.
 19. Open up your cuff. Pin the gathered sleeve onto one side of this cuff. Adjust the gathers so they fall evenly.
20, This is what it looks like on the other side. Sew everythin gin place
21. Using the pressed edge of your cuff as a guide, fold the cuff over the inside of your sleeve.
22. Turn down the edge and pin over the rough edges to hide them
23. Stitch down.

The finished sleeve, the top lies over the bottom in the direction of the back of the body. Use a snap to hold it closed.
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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, dolls.passion. Pretty dolls make everything look good!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you. Urszula. So happy to know you enjoyed this post.

  3. Wszystkie, naprawdę wszystkie ubrania są przepięknie wykonane i prezentują się doskonale! Nie miałam pojęcia, że rękawy mogą tak odmienić i wzbogacić strój! Perfekcyjne projekty! Jestem nimi zachwycona!
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

    1. Olla wrote:
      All, really all the clothes are beautifully made and they look perfect! I had no idea that sleeves could change so much and enrich the outfit! Perfect projects! I am delighted!
      Best wishes!

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Olla. This was a real pleasure for me to revisit a time when girls were pretty dresses. And yes, it is so interesting to see how the sleeves add such a fresh dynamic to an otherwise ordinary dress!

  4. Wonderful, I keep changing my mind as to which is my favourite. Although I think perhaps the green bell bottom sleeve dress may just have edged ahead. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Karen. Glad to know there are others out there who enjoy this post as much as I do. The dresses were so pretty, I enjoyed making each and every one.

  5. Fantastic post! It's great how the sleeves can totally change the style of a dress.


    1. Thank you, MonsterCrafts. I agree, this is such a pretty trend. It takes a little more effort to create these looks, but it is well worth it.

  6. I really love these 60's inspired mini dresses especially the ones with sheer fabric. This kind of fabric can be so intimidating to work with.

    1. Making these outfits really took me back. As far as working with sheers are concerned, if you look closely at the pictures of green dress being made, you'll notice each piece has running stitches around the circumference. I used an "unlining." That's when you cut a double layer (of the same or of difference fabric) but sew it as though it was a single layer. You first stitch the unlining to the outer layer, then sew it as if it were a single layer. You still need to finish the edges (neckline, hem). You can still line it (that would mean introducing a 3rd layer of fabric) or simply turn down the edges. The good news is that when you turn the edge down, the stitches won't be seen.

    2. Thank you for the tips. I will definately try this!

  7. Great article. I was looking forward when you post it. And it was worth to wait. I have a lot of suggestions to thing about.

    1. Thank you, Anna. I tried to think of as many quick suggestions as possible--which is the reason why this post is so long. Glad this could be useful to you.

  8. April, c'est vraiment magnifique et de toute beauté. Merci pour ce partage. Je vais essayer de faire un de tes modèles cet été.

    1. Merci, Shasarignis pour les gentils mots. La mode des annees soixantes etait riche en idees, ludique et tres jeune. C'est une style tout a fait parfait pour nos poupees.

  9. Amazing dolls clothes! Thank you for instruction and patterns :)

    1. Neytiri, thank you for your kind words. So to know you enjoyed this post.

  10. Thank you so much. This was a very good tutorial. Irene.


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