Drafting a Petal Wrap Elven Sleeve

== by Elizabeth / Emc^2

(hopefully we'll eventually get illos too)

First get some lightweight interfacing or Pellon Tru-Grid (lightweight interfacing with a 1-inch grid printed on it).  I use this in preference to paper because you can actually sew it up and try it on.  Keep any scraps until you're finished, to patch into your pattern/mock-up.  You can work with actual fabric (e.g., muslin), but I find interfacing or Tru-grid easier to handle, to draw on, and to visualize from.

Now take the sleeve piece(s) from your pattern.  Pin up the seam(s) and try it on.  This doesn't need to be a very precise fitting; you're only looking for if it's too tight or too short/long.  To get the true elvish wrap, you will probably have to lengthen it.

While you have it on, mark the point over the wrist at which you think the two petals should overlap.  This will probably not be halfway around from the underarm seam, nor straight down from the center of the sleeve cap.  It's most likely slightly forward from there.

Unpin the pattern piece(s).  Draw a straight line, parallel to the grain line on the pattern, from where you marked at the wrist up to the sleeve cap cutting line. Cut along this line.

Pin the sleeve seam(s) back together, or overlap and tape.  (If you overlap, be sure the pieces are matching along the seam line(s).)  The result is your petal sleeve piece, Mark 1.  You have eliminated the original seams and cut the pattern apart where it will eventually wrap over itself.

With a two-part (man's jacket) sleeve, you will probably have some wrinkles in the pinned/taped-together pattern, since there is shaping between the two pieces and they're eased together.  Don't worry about it; just ignore them, and they'll go away in the adjustment process.

Lay the Mark 1 pattern on your interfacing or Tru-Grid.  If using Tru-Grid, make sure the grid and the grain line on the original pattern run parallel; otherwise, mark the grain line every time you make a new preliminary pattern. Trace everything from the Mark 1 onto the interfacing.

Now the tricky bit.  Turn the Mark 1 pattern over.  Line up the cut edge of the Mark 1 with the other side of the tracing, and trace the wrist and sleeve cap edges again, about four inches out from the cut line.  Do the same on the other side.  This extension will become your overlap.

Remove the Mark 1 pattern.  On your interfacing, draw a gentle curve from the extended sleeve cap down to the wrist overlap point.  Do the same on the other side.  The two curves will not be exactly the same, but should look roughly similar.  On the sleeve in the picture, these curves are still be pretty vertical.  Continue the curves around to meet where the underarm seam was, gradually turning more to horizontal.

Male elves seem to favor fairly narrow sleeves, with a smooth, round-bottomed curve to them.  I made my female-elf sleeves to have a point at the back (from which, in one version, I hung a tassel) and had to widen the sleeve considerably to get the look I was after. More on widening in a moment, but for now back to your interfacing.

Cut out the new, Mark 2 pattern from the interfacing.  Bring the back over the front overlap parts (where you extended it), matching the point where the cut was in the Mark 1.  The extensions should also match up along the sleeve cap edge.  Pin or baste the overlap along the sleeve cap seam to hold it for now.

Try on the Mark 2.  Does it look more or less like you wanted?  If so, fine.  If not - and it took at least six revisions (up to Mark 8 or so) before I was satisfied with my original - you can draw in new curves on the overlaps and around the back of the sleeve until you are happy.  (An assistant is very helpful for this, but, with some frustration, you can do it yourself.)

Baste the Mark 2 into the armscye of your coat or coat mock-up.  Adjust if there's something wrong with the armscye seam.  The most that should go wrong is that you need to pull up a bit of one or the other overlap into or out of the seam; just unpick the basting for an inch or two and slide that bit where it needs to go.  Rebaste, and remember to trim off the extra or add a bit, so that you have a consistent seam allowance.

If you need to shorten it, you can just cut parts off.  If you need to lengthen it, add on interfacing at the bottom edge.  If there's too much overlap, cut part of it away; if you need more, you can add to it with more scraps of interfacing.

If the sleeve is too wide, you can pin up 'darts' to take out fabric on the lower edges.  Don't cut these darts in your final fabric (or next mock-up); just pretend they aren't there.

If the sleeve is too narrow and you need to widen it, mark the sleeve cap seam line around the upper edge of the pattern piece.  Now draw several straight lines from the wrist edge to the sleeve cap seam line, parallel to the grain line.  DO NOT draw through the sleeve cap seam line.  DO NOT put any lines in the overlap portions of your pattern.  I like to use an evenly-spaced odd number of lines, usually 3 to 5, but only the even spacing is critical.

Cut along these lines.  Your Mark X pattern is now a largish fringed thing.  Put it down on another piece of interfacing or Tru-Grid, marking or matching the grain lines again.  Spread each cut out into a V with the point at the sleeve cap, being careful to keep the grain line in the center of each V (i.e., spread the same amount on each side of the original line).  Cut out the Mark X+1, pin/baste it up and try it on again.

Continue adjusting until you're happy with the result. (Be sure to transfer the grainline, the overlap marks and the construction notches to each new version.)  I usually find that I have a real mess on my hands at this point, so I trace the whole thing one more time to get a neat, easy-to-actually-use pattern.  Also at this point, I consider where or whether I'll need to add seam allowances or hems.

I kept only the sleeve cap seam allowance on my pattern while I was adjusting, which let me visualize the finished sleeve better.  So I needed to add something all the way around the overlap and bottom for seams or hems.  I've always lined these sleeves, but your picture appears to have only a narrow hem, which has warped going around the bias areas, which probably means it was machine done.

Do one final trial basting your mock-up into the coat armscye, checking to be sure that you have sufficient markings (e.g., notches and where the overlaps are).  Then cut it in your real fabric and go for it.

This page was last updated 04/22/08