Sisyphus' pattern-less sleeves

Are you familiar with Sisyphus? It’s this guy from ancient greek mythology who was condemned to push a boulder up a hill to get it to the top. That was his aim. Unfortunately, the hill was so shaped that as soon as the boulder got to the top, it rolled off and down the other side. So Sisyphus spent eternity in Hades rolling a boulder up a cliff again, and again, and again…

Blue jersey dress

Blue jersey dress

What’s that got to do with sleeves? Well, if you’re attempting a dress without a pattern and with sleeves, a LOT. See I’m making this jersey dress. I’ve made it before. Twice. Once I left it strapless. Once I lifted the fabric up and made it into a square-shouldered straight-neckline sleeveless thing. This one I was hoping to make into semi-raglan sleeves. All this, without a pattern, or any pattern-making skills.

Thankfully I have a book about making patterns, thanks to a great crafty friend of mine. So I used the book to find the base sleeve pattern. Measured everything. Drew it up and all. Then I modified it to be a raglan sleeve, blindly. I had no bodice points to attach it to or to measure from. And that’s where the nightmare began. (A raglan sleeve is the one that extends to on top of the shoulds, and has a seam on the shoulder, and the sleeves are attached to the bodice in a diagonal line from armpit to neckline. A very sexy cut, popular in the fifties.)

I measured, I drew, I trasferred, I cut, I basted, I tried it on. Shoulder was lovely. Arm was lovely. Sadly, they were too far apart from each other with an armhole going from my armpit to (almost) my elbow! *chop chop* come the scissors.

I cut off the raglan shoulder bits, as those were a lost cause. I try to attach the sleeves to the mannequin. Armhole is too far out, giving a modern but undesirably slouchy shoulder overhang. *chop chop* come the scissors.

I undo those seams, then attach them again. Seems better. So I try it on. Sleeves are too poofy on the front, and the back piece is slightly over-extended on one side. *chop chop* come the scissors!

I undo those seams, chop the bodice and sleeves some more, and sit down in defeat to watch tv.

The armholes, all chopped up

The armholes, all chopped up

Thanfkully, la nuit porte conseil, and this morning I figured out what to do. I’ll pin the sleeves at the shoulder and armpit, and attach them progressively to the (now reduced) armholes. I will do this with the dress and sleeves both inside out, so that the resulting dress will be ready for machine sewing after being tried on for verification. Well, anyway, that’s the plan. And if all else fails… *chop chop* come the scissors!! And I’ll have yet another sleeveless dress 🙂

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