Mrs Bowden’s top tip – upper arm adjustments

How to avoid unpleasant pinching across your upper arm!

Here she is strong and stylish

Here she is strong and stylish

This is Rosie the Riveter, an American cultural icon from the Second World War.  Rosie represented women who worked in factories and shipyards throughout the states, many producing arms and munitions. Rosie is the epitome of strength and style from this period.  I dare say she also had well-formed biceps from heaving all those items around which neatly leads me to this week’s top tip; upper arms!

A much more pleasant description!

A much more pleasant description!

I have no urge to refer to the part of the anatomy we are dealing with today as b**** w**** and I’m not sure if I prefer to use the term ‘salt cellars’ as seen in this charming exercise advice from 1915.  Putting exercises to one side, when we are making garments with sleeves, pulling can occur across the upper arm which is unsightly and uncomfortable.  Let’s take steps to deal with this issue.

Ask a friend to assist you in measuring your upper arm.

Ask a friend to assist you in measuring your upper arm.

Accurate measuring around both your upper arm and the pattern is helpful so you know what you are dealing with!

It is much easier if you can ask somebody else to measure around your arm.   Make sure your arm is comfortably hanging by your side and that the tape isn’t pinching .

Bustpoint, waist, hip and bicep mark on commercial patterns.

Bustpoint, waist, hip and bicep mark on commercial patterns.

You may notice on your pattern a circle printed with a cross through it.  These are printed on patterns to show the waist, hip, bust point and mid upper arm position.

1940 Day dress

1940 Day dress

Work out the difference between your arm measurement and the pattern measurement. Consider how you want the sleeve to look – how drapey or close fitting.  You should now have a good idea of how much extra you need to add to the pattern to make the sleeve fit comfortably.

Draw in the horizontal and vertical lines through the bicep point

Draw in the horizontal and vertical lines through the bicep point

Find the circle with the cross in it and draw a line across the sleeve going through this point.  You can use the grainline to establish a right angle.  Now draw a line from the head of the sleeve down to the bottom.  This needs to go from the head of the sleeve which is marked with a tailor tack circle or notch.

Create hinges on the vertical line

Create hinges on the vertical line

Cut through the vertical line from the bottom of the sleeve to the top.  Then cut from the centre to the sides of the sleeve leaving a little hinge at the edge (you can strengthen this with a bit of sticky tape).  Now widen the pattern pieces until you have added the amount you need to.  This will mean you overlap the paper on the horizontal line.

Make the adjustment by overlapping the vertical line

Make the adjustment by overlapping the vertical line

Stick the overlap down and measure it as this needs to be added to the head of the sleeve.  For example, if you are overlapping by 2 cm you need to add this to the head of the sleeve.

Add the 'overlap' to the head of the sleeve

Add the ‘overlap’ to the head of the sleeve

Mark a 2 cm line about the head and mimic the curve already there blending in at the single notch on the front and double notch on the back. Remark in the head of the sleeve with a new notch. Now you can alter your sleeves to fit – it is always a good idea to create a toile (fabric mock-up) to test your alteration before going to final fashion fabric.

Until next time,

in stitches,

Mrs Bowden x

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