Witch Sleeves

This Leg of Mutton Sleeves Tutorial isn’t just for witches, you know.  Maybe you’re here because you’re making the fineries of a Renaissance princess like this sweetie. 

Or perhaps you’re an 80s throwback?  Preparing for an 80s-themed wedding?  (Imagine the music!  I want an invitation!)

Or maybe you’re here because you got roped into making costumes for an Am-dram period production. 

Let’s not ask wherefores.

All are welcome here….

Close-fitting Sleeve Block

To start drafting the LoM, you will need a close-fitting sleeve block with a wrist to elbow dart.  If you haven’t a close-fitting sleeve block, you can make one to the following measurements:

1.  The sleeve cap (curved area on top) should measure the same as the bodice armhole (front + back) plus an extra 3-5cm for ease (3cm if you’re petite, for example).   The back of the sleeve  is “fleshier” than the sleeve front.

2.  The height of the sleeve should be  equivalent to the length of arm from the shoulder bone to the wrist, the measurement taken with the elbow gently bent (this provides the ease).

3. The width at the elbow should be the girth of elbow, the measurement taken with the elbow gently bent (ease again).  The elbow is half-way up the underarm seam.

4.  The block width half way between the elbow and the shoulder should be your bicep girth plus ease of 5cm.

5.  The block measurement at the wrist should be your wrist girth plus ease of 2cm-2.5cm.

6.  Copy your sleeve block, add seam allowances and make up a sleeve muslin.  Try it on and see if you need to make any adjustments.

An important note: all drafting is made on copies of the block.  Keep the original intact so you don’t have to remake it every time there’s an adjustment.

Drafting Leg of Mutton

1. Draw equally spaced slash lines in the top half of sleeve.

2. Place onto another (larger) piece of paper.  Trace around the lower half of sleeve.  Slash the vertical lines. Spread.  Pin into place.

My spread is a modest 2cm.  Click on pic below for a close-up.

3. The action of spreading will naturally result in the sleeve rising slightly in the middle.

4. But you need more rise.  Lots more.  If you’d like the sleeve to rise 3cm above the shoulder, you need to add double that, i.e. 6cm, to the top of the sleeve.  I added a measly total of 3.5cm, slightly less at the sides.  Gradually taper to original positions at the underarm seam.

5. Smooth the sides of the sleeve in the elbow region.

6. Copy the LoM then add seam allowances.  My finished pattern looked like this:

Making up

LoM doesn’t work in floppy, sheer fabrics.  If in doubt, apply interfacing.  

When I made up the muslin it looked like this:

I put it on and the effect was a bit matronly: more Lady Bracknell than Cecily Cardew.  So I tried again, aiming for fullness around and above the bicep and a closer fit below.  Back on the drawing board, I cut my slashed pieces in half and repinned the lower portion to a tracing of the elbow line and bottom half of sleeve:

I then repeated steps 2 – 6 as above, spreading only the upper quarter of the sleeve.  The second pattern, more trumpet-like in shape, looked like this on top of the first.

The muslin was more flattering.  I wonder if you can spot the difference.

Here they are together.  Version 1 on the left, Version 2 on the right.

An elbow-length version 2 in black looks lovely I think, though I could have gathered the back of  the sleeve more evenly (lumps!!).

Now I must get back to the cauldron: the kids are expecting lamb stew.

6 thoughts on “Witch Sleeves

  1. Great Post, I remember the leg o mutton sleeve the first time round! no, not Edwardian – late 80’s! I did the high neck, buttoned up the back lace blouse number with a point cuff at the back of the hand, Ahh! – takes me back. I will be coming back to this post, I’m thinking fitted tweed Jacket with peplum. Mmm.

    • Annie, that sounds beautiful. I’m trying to visualise. The point cuff sounds worth looking into…

      On another note, I’ve just been to see the Woman in Black at cinema where an Edwardian version of LoM was glimpsed now and then… so a bit spooked… oh the irony…

  2. Waw, you’re so brave using Pattern Magic! I’ve been tempted before to buy it too, and after seeing your work I’m thinking again about buying it….

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