Monday, February 20, 2012

Design-a-long - The Paper Pattern Part 5 Sleeves

If you've been following along, we are now ready to draft the sleeves. This time we will work on the part from wrist to armhole. You need the gauge of your yarn, both by stitch and by row. Accurate row gauge is very important here so I always recheck on a piece of knitting larger than my swatch, usually the back of the sweater. I also take the count over a larger number of inches than the standard swatch. I often use 10 inches. You also need 3 arm measurements, your wrist, your upper arm and your arm length. You should be using the measurements with ease not your body measurements.

My tailoring background has lead me to develop high standards for sleeve fit. The tailored sleeve fit is much more contoured in shape than the sleeve we normally use in knitwear. Notice on the classic sewn two piece sleeve in the drawing above how different it looks from most knitted sleeves. Take a look through some of your pattern books and magazines to look at a variety of sleeves and you will see schematics with contoured shapes. Generally though, we see sleeves that run in a smooth diagonal line from wrist to underarm. If you think about how your arm is shaped, a straight diagonal doesn't accurately reflect the increase in width from wrist to underarm. This is your customized pattern so you will choose whichever style you want. 

The standard knitted sleeve is easy to draft from wrist to underarm. Using your knitting graph paper, your gauge and your calculated number of stitches and rows, draw in a line at the bottom for your wrist that is the appropriate number of stitches. Count up to the number of rows required for the length of sleeve you want. Then mark in the width of stitches required for your upper arm and draw in a diagonal line starting about an inch worth of rows below the final length. This can be longer than 1 inch depending on your final increase location but don't make it less than an inch or more than 2 unless your upper arm is very full. The final step is to draw in the stitch increase steps as you did on previous parts of the pattern. The steps may not work out evenly, so you need to decide if you want to fudge the numbers to get an nice simple instruction like increase 1 stitch at each end of your needle every 6 rows or follow your graph pattern. 

A contoured sleeve more accurately follows the shape of your arm. If you want a more contoured sleeve you will need to work from the cuff straight with no increases for 5 - 6 inches. Next  you would work a slow rate of increases for 5 - 6 inches and then the final 3 - 4 inches would have a quicker rate of increase before the final straight section. I draw this in on my graph paper and then work out the actual steps.

I always do a reality check on the length of my sleeve before starting the cap shaping. The finished length of your sleeve is impacted by the depth of your armhole. Measurements don't account for this variation. So if your armhole is a little deeper or shallower it will impact where your sleeve ends up on your arm. I like to join my shoulders, put the garment on and test the sleeve length by holding it lined up with the armhole's bottom edge and checking where it hangs to, on my arm.  Remember, a bent arm needs more length than a straight one so it should allow for that movement and still be acceptable to you.

If you are using minimal ease allowances, you can also do a second reality check for the width measurements by using a tape measure, clipping it with a binder clip or paper clip into a circle of the correct size then moving it up and down on your arm to verify that it will not be too tight.

Now that you are working through all of this detail you can see why designers do all of this mathematically when they are grading multiple sizes. I've chosen show you how to work visually because having a clear visual understanding of what the goal is by doing the drafting teaches you much more.As well I'm focusing on customization not generic pattern writing.

Next time, I'll cover a quick visual way to create the sleeve cap.

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