The idea of a long-sleeved Asymmetrical Drape Top has been rolling around in my head for a couple weeks now, ever since I made my butterfly drape top. My problem lay in the fact that lengthening both sleeves enough to reach my wrists would result in a pattern that was wider than any generally available knit fabric (which is usually 54-60″ wide).
After color blocking Kymy’s Dolman this week, inspiration struck and I realized how I could “make it work,” as Tim Gunn would say. Cutting the pattern from two fabrics would accomodate the width of adding sleeves!
I knew that the original sleeve length hit me a couple inches above my elbow, so I started with the end of my tape measure 3 inches above the joint on the bottom side of my upper arm. I bent my elbow and brought the tape measure around the bend of my elbow and to my wrist (you may need help with this, as I had to have my daughter hold it in place). I decided that adding 15″ would be about right for long sleeves.
I also measured around my upper forearm (12.5″) and around my wrist (8″), so I would know about what width to taper the sleeves to so they’d be more fitted.
After tracing a copy of the pattern front, I taped more paper past the end of one sleeve. I use freezer paper to trace my patterns if I’m changing something (like today) or if I want to preserve the pattern uncut (which I usually do for kid patterns so I can use different sizes as my kids grow). Since my freezer paper is 18″ wide, I decided to just add that much to the sleeves. I figured that I could always cut them off if they were too long, but wouldn’t be able to add length nearly as easily if they ended up too short. In the end, I left the extra inches because I liked the cozy feel of the too-long sleeves.
The blue line in the picture above is the end of the original sleeve and I extended it about 18″ straight out from the end of the shoulder seam. Next I guessed how far over (based on knowing where the original sleeve ended on my arm) and marked the width of the forearm (7.5′”) and wrist (5.5″). To get those widths, I took the circumference of my arm and divided by 2 (for the sleeve front and back), added 3/8″ allowance twice (once for each of the two seams the sleeve would have), then rounded up a little to give myself some wearing ease.
I marked those two spots, then connected the marks and drew in the curve of the under arm seam. Once I had it to my liking, I traced the sleeve extension and added the same shape to the second sleeve.
Now, it was time to slice the pattern for the color blocking seam. I did this the same way I did on Kymy’s Dolman earlier this week. This time around, however, I knew I’d also have to piece the back of the shirt, since it was too wide for the fabric width. To save paper, rather than trace the whole thing again, I traced just the back neckline and a little of the shoulders so I could lay it on top of the front, match up the sides of the neckline, and cut my back fabric. This also meant my color block seam would match up perfectly on the shoulder and side seam.
After finishing the piecing, I simply followed the pattern to construct the rest of my top. The only differences were the longer sleeves and choosing to add a cuff/band to the wrist rather than making a folded hem.
Color blocking was the only way for my plus size, long sleeve top to fit on the fabric width. Smaller sizes or girl’s sizes may be able to fit without color blocking, but piecing it means you can use smaller pieces of fabric (which is the reason I color blocked Kymy’s Dolman a few days ago).
I won’t lie, adding long sleeves to the Asymmetrical Drape Top or to Kymy’s Dolman requires quite a bit more fabric yardage, but I think it’s worth it. Plus, I have some large usable “scraps” from where the underarm curves left gaps on my yardage.
Happy Sewing!! ~ Joelle