Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coat Sleeves: Set In versus Extended

Coats are investment pieces in your wardrobe.  A well made coat can last for years or decades, and be passed on to family and friends. Find a pattern that matches your skill level, select wool in the weight appropriate for your climate, and test the pattern in unbleached cotton muslin.

If you select an easy to sew pattern, the sleeve is likely to be cut as one with the bodice.  You don't have to set the sleeve in, which saves time and works well for sewers who are unfamiliar with setting a coat sleeve.  The downside is that this type of sleeve creates unattractive folds and bulk at the armhole and along the sleeve.  Observe the sleeve folds in this muslin.
All in one bodice/sleeve front
The back has similar folds and possibly extra ease in the bodice. 
Back view includes sleeve folds and excess ease in garment
I love this pattern, Butterick 5824, and I think you can sew a beautiful coat without changing the pattern at all.  The collar frames the face effectively, the nipped in waist is figure flattering, and the full skirt measures more than 18' at the hem which will create fabulous movement as you walk.  A wonderful pattern as is.  My point in analyzing the pattern is not to criticize but rather to discuss the armhole and share an easy method to reduce armhole folds by converting the pattern to a set in sleeve. 

Here are the modified pattern pieces:
Coat Front
Coat Back
The shoulder seam is dropped 1/2".  The side seam is drawn straight up.  The armhole is created either with a french curve ruler or by tracing the armhole from a pattern you already own.  I will add shoulder pads as well. 

To select a set in sleeve pattern from my stash, I need to measure the armhole at the stitching line.
The armhole measures 20 inches.  I simply go to my pattern stash and find a coat or jacket pattern with a sleeve cap that measures approximately 21 inches.

What else could I do to improve this wardrobe investment?  I think a detachable faux fur collar would be dramatic and fun.  I have a one yard panel of brown mink in my stash so please check back next week to see the result.  


  1. Do you have any suggestions on how to modify the cutting layout/yardage requirements?

    My default action would be to purchase an additional yard (or 2/3), but looking at the cutting layout - that might be too much.

  2. I am struggling with this patttern and yours is so beautifully sewn. I think doing the set in sleeves really makes a difference.