Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Call to Arms

I hate it when you start a project and then realize that you really need some item that would greatly assist you, so you have to stop and change gears.

Alma really needs some arms...or at least one arm. It would make fitting sleeves much easier, so I set out to search the Internet for dress form arms.

I thought about buying some, but at $50+ a pop, forget it! Then I thought about the "Duct Tape Double" approach, but I don't have anyone to wrap my arms, plus it wouldn't be flexible to put into a sleeve. I then found a website with a tutorial for making a "stuffed" arm using a sloper drafted from your arm measurements. This seemed like the best and most cost effective way to go. The website is Pandemic Apparel blogspot.

It looks like she took these instructions from a draping book in another language and states several times that it was difficult to decipher the instructions. I appreciate her efforts! I found it difficult, but not impossible, to follow along, but I think I figured it out. I am going to try to chronicle what I did here, hopefully in an easier to understand format, not only to help myself, but maybe others as well.

She made her pattern directly onto her muslin, but I opted to make a paper pattern since I didn't know what I was doing, and I figured I would need to erase a lot.  I used cm, because that's what she used, but you can use inches if you want. This is for a right arm. Just flip the pattern for a left.

You will need the following measurements:

1. Overarm length - from shoulder seam down over slightly bent elbow to wrist. (A)

2. Underarm length - from approx. underarm down inside of arm to wrist. (B)

3. Elbow to wrist. (C)

4. Shoulder seam to level of armscye (upper arm). (D)

5. Upper Arm to Elbow. (E)

6. Armhole circumference - around shoulder and underarm. (F)

7. Bicep circumference - around bent bicep, not too snugly. (G)

8. Elbow circumference - around flexed elbow. (H)

9. Wrist circumference - around where you would want the end of your sleeve to come or somewhere around your wrist bone. (I)

Start by drawing a rectangle that equals measurement (A) by 26 cm wide.

Draw horizontal lines on the rectangle at measurements (C), (D) and (E) and mark them Wrist, Upper Arm and Elbow.

Draw a center line at the 13 cm mark the length of the rectangle. At the Upper Arm line, measure up 5 cm and draw a horizontal line the width of the rectangle. From that line, measure in 5 cm from each edge and draw a vertical line up to the top of the rectangle. From the intersection of the top of the rectangle and the Center Line, measure down 7.5 cm and place a line or mark. From this mark, draw a slanted line up to meet the intersection of the top line and the vertical 5 cm line. Do this on both sides of the Center Line. These lines will make an "M" shape. Finally, measure from the top of each side of the "M" down the slanted line 4.5 cm and place a mark. If you have trouble following these written directions, just look at the next picture.

Starting at the top of rectangle and the Center Line, draw a sleeve cap or wide "bell" shape (see drawing). Using a French curve will help, or if you can draw it by eye. Make sure that the line passes through the 4.5 cm marks and where the two 5 cm marks meet. The measurement from the top of the sleeve cap to the upper arm line should equal (D).

Add 1/2" seam allowances to the rectangle.

Flip the pattern over and bring the two sides together to meet in the middle, overlapping the seam allowances. Tape temporarily in a couple of spots with scotch tape. Your pattern will now look something like this.

On the Wrist line, measure in from the left 1/2 of the measurement of (I) - For example, my wrist circumference is 16.5 cm, so I measured in 8.25 cm. Make a mark.Then take a right angle or triangle ruler, place the corner at your mark and the other end at the far right end of the elbow line. Make a line on both sides of the ruler.

At the left end of the elbow line, measure in 2 cm towards the right and make a mark. From the 2 cm mark on the elbow line, measure another 2 cm towards the right and make a mark. Measure from the first 2 cm mark to the right side of the elbow line. Place a mark at the half-way point of that measurement. Do the same with the wrist line. Measure in 2 cm from the left edge and make a mark. Measure the wrist line from the left edge to the first mark you made on the wrist line and make a mark at the half-way point of that measurement. Your marks should look about like this.

Connect the dots like this...

From the left edge of the Upper Arm line, measure in 2 cm and make a mark. Then make a mark at the Center Line. Connect the dots so that it looks like this.

Open up the pattern, and it should look like this. You may need to draw in the lines in blue, but they should be self explanatory. If not, shoot me a message. You will have to redraw some of your seam allowances on the bottom near the wrist.

Now take your pattern and trace it onto your muslin fabric, making sure to transfer all of the lines. Using black and red thread, stitch over the red lines with red and the black lines with black. I went over mine twice. Then sew the three darts - wrist, shoulder and side arm and sew the arm together along the inner sleeve seam and up the inside seam of the arm.

You then need to make a pattern for the bottom of the wrist, a pattern for the armscye and a pattern for the piece that you can use to pin the arm to your mannequin. For the wrist, I used an oval shape that I already had from a template, but you can trace a shape or draw an oval. It needs to fit the bottom of the arm. Then you need to draw a larger oval that will fit in the armscye area of the arm. Finally you need to draw a wide triangle shape to sew to the arm in order to have something to pin the arm to the mannequin with. Here is what mine look like.

Trace the small oval on some stiff cardboard. Then take a piece of muslin that is a little bigger than the oval shape and sew it up around the cardboard oval and sew that to the bottom of the arm, turning up the seam allowance on the wrist area and sewing the fabric covered oval using an overcast stitch  Sew the larger oval over the armscye area of the arm, leaving about a 2-inch section open so that you can stuff the arm. Before you sew the top part closed, sew the triangle part in between the armscye oval and the top of the shoulder of the arm.

The finished arm...

The finished arm pinned to a mannequin...