Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cap Height Adjustment

The illustrations below illustrate a cap height adjustment - in this case for raising the cap height. The same process is used to lower the cap height by eliminating from, rather than adding to, the length.





I trace all my patterns and make any adjustments necessary to the tracing. That way, the original pattern stays intact for when I want to trace a different size or for when I learn a better method for making adjustments. Above, I re-traced the sleeve sewn into yesterday's out of print, Butterick 5678, blouse.





Based on how the sleeve hung, I thought it needed slightly more cap height - about 1/2". To start, I aligned one of the marks on the ruler with the grainline on the pattern and then drew a line across the sleeve cap at a ninety-degree angle to the grainline. I drew the line above the notches.





It's important to be able to line the cap back up correctly with the rest of the sleeve so I drew a second line across the first one as a reference point.





Then I cut apart the tissue and inserted a strip of paper equal to the width of the adjustment I wanted to make. In this case, I added 1/2". If you were decreasing the cap height, you would fold out the correct amount.





How I trace this next line is based on what I know about my shoulder which is that it is high and narrow. I rarely need extra width and often have to take width away so in my case, I use the French curve to draw a clean line to the inside blending the upper cap with the lower portion. If you had a wider upper arm, you would draw the line to the outside maintaining width. This can be significant when making a larger adjustment.





As you can see, the resulting cap is high and narrow. Typically this is the sleeve shape that fits my arm the best, allows for the greatest range of motion, and is the most flattering to my figure. This is a 3/4" length sleeve which is also my favourite length.





When I inserted the sleeve in yesterday's blouse, I had no problem easing in the fabric. I stitched two rows of basting around the sleeve cap from notch to notch and then I pinned the sleeve to the garment with the sleeve on the bottom matching the notches on the sleeve to the notches on the garment and the notch at the top of the cap to the shoulder seam. I then pulled the basting threads to gather the sleeve cap to fit the armhole working from each notch to the center point and concentrating the majority of the gathering in the upper portion of the cap where the blue line is in the illustration above.





I've found that as I work with patterns more and more, I start to recognize my shapes such as a high narrow sleeve. Often, I can tell whether a sleeve is going to work by looking at the shape and by measuring the cap height. Above, it's 8" which is 1/2" higher than the sleeve I inserted into yesterday's blouse. I don't anticipate having trouble easing this cap in and I think the slight adjustment will allow the sleeve to hang ever so slightly better. If that's the case, I will start using 8" of cap height as my criteria for adjustment.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you'd like me to clarify anything further.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - compound learning

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself. 
- Eleanor Roosevelt

12 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial. Very well done, and very helpful, especially the advice to "get to know your [insert body part]". So important.

    I'm especially appreciative now that I have tried, for the first time, the writing of sewing directions for others. It's not easy! Thanks again. (And your shirt is beautiful, BTW.)

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    1. When I see a short squat sleeve, I know it's going to need work. The same with a low armhole. I'm probably more knowledgeable about what won't work for me than what will but that's an equally good starting point and what will is becoming much clearer.

      I've written a lot of how-to over the years. It definitely gets better with practice.

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  2. I'm book marking this for future reference because it's great information - clearly explained and well illustrated!

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    1. Let me know how it works for you. We have very similar figures.

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  3. I have narrow shoulders and have to make this alteration as well. Not so much in knits, but definitely in woven fabrics. I wonder if this is fairly common for women with narrow shoulders.

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    1. I would guess that if you have narrow shoulders, you need this information. I've read alteration descriptions that don't include raising the cap height and just "settling" for those wrinkles. That doesn't work for me. I make adjustments in knits as well. The same wrinkles/puckers will show. The cap height won't be as high but the shape will be similar.

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  4. This is so helpful, thank you!

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  5. Thanks for detailed instructions. I too have a narrow shoulder. I need to take a fill inch out of every pattern. Also find that before the NSA sleeves will be an inch too long. The NSA brings the sleeve length up but Im wondering if what I need is to add 1 inch cap height and shorten the sleeve by an equal amount. Your discussions on sleeves have got me thinking.

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    1. In today's posting I talked about a narrow chest and narrow back adjustment. You may find that this is actually what you need. The amount of the adjustment differs pattern to pattern so I can't automatically take out an amount. I have to measure and then adjust.

      Think of the sleeve in three sections - hem to elbow, elbow to underarm, and underarm to cap. The only distance that is variable is hem to elbow depending on the length of your sleeve. Otherwise, elbow to underarm remains consistent and underarm to cap remains consistent IF... the underarm is always in the same location. So adding an inch to the cap won't change the point at which the sleeve ends, it'll simply give it more room to move over the curve of the shoulder. The underarm to elbow to hem will be the same.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.