Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Raglan Sleeve Tops

We finally got our winter weather, and I remembered why my sewing and blogging grinds to a near halt every winter: I get too cold. So I'm now trying for a bit of practicality: I've found a heater for the sewing area and I've sewn a couple of tops I can layer.

Top number one is view A from Vogue 8952, a "very easy" pattern.

Please excuse my dodgy photos with their weird shadows and varying colours - I got these tops photographed between working from home the other day and picking up the kids from school, and for the sake of speed they were taken in my hallway, which seemed to confuse my camera's light setings.  

I'm actually wearing the top as I type this - it's not a perfect fit (slightly too tight across the bust, and too much fabric in the upper arms / too low an armscye) but it feels great on and goes really well with the jeans I practically live in :).  That's good enough!  And I sooo love this colour... Anna, can I please have a membership form for the Orange Fan Club?

And there are shoulder darts, and the neckline fit is fabulous!

Pattern: View A from Vogue 8952, size S (8-10)

Fabric: orange viscose/ spandex jersey from Tessuti Fabrics - I think it's this fabric type, but in a colour more like this

Thread: Gutermann 100% polyester, colour #16

Adjustments: well yes, there were a few, but they all related to having bought insufficient fabric! I originally bought the fabric to make my son a long-sleeved top, but it turned out he preferred the idea of a blue linen collared shirt.  But enough fabric for a top for an 11 year old skinnymalink is not quite enough for this pattern, so I reduced both the flare and the length of the top (by folding out some width and shortening at the shorten line), and shortened the sleeves (again at the shorten line).  Removing length in the middle of the arm has made the sleeves narrower than intended in the middle and lower parts of my arm, as the sleeves are tapered and I've ended up with the narrow wrist width a few inches above my wrists. The cuffs were added at the very end when I realised I had enough scrap fabric to add some cuffs and regain the sleeve length. Finally I hemmed the bodice using a generic version of steam-a-seam. It makes for very easy hemming but the hemline feels a bit stiff - I'm hoping it will lose the stiffness in the wash.

I'm happy with the top and am going to wear it to bits, but if I make it again I want to leave the sleeves at their regular length and also raise the armhole a little and give myself a bit more width across the bust (if I can be bothered, ha!).   I'd make the same reduction in length and width of the body of the top though, as the length seems good to me and I don't want too breezy a top in winter.

Top number 2 is the top from Vogue 1389 by Donna Karan (rated "Average", but the top is definitely an easy sew):

I'm very happy with the fit on this one - out of the packet the fit seems pretty good, though I'm wondering when I look at these photos whether I've underestimated my size... I sewed this as a straight 12, forgoing my usual "grading up" to a 14 from the waist down, and the horizontal creases in the back of the top tell me yes, I do need the extra width.

The cut of the raglan seam and underarm sit quite high, but not uncomfortably so.  This gets rid of most of the underarm wrinkles you saw on the orange top above - though there are still just a couple which may be more about needing to size up at the bust.

As you'd expect from a sleeve design invented for maximum battlefield mobility, the sleeves on this top work beautifully for dancing, catching a ball or whatever you want to do with an arm in the air.

I don't love the floral print - it's something I bought to sew a dress for my daughter with, but she didn't like it (am I the only one sensing a theme here?) - but who knows, I might yet come to love it.

And regardless of how I feel about the print, I am definitely going to be wearing this top.  I LOVE the neckline and the lines of the pattern, and being quite a slim fit it will definitely layer well under my jumpers and cardigans.

Pattern: View C from Vogue 1389, size 12

Fabric: cream / floral print jersey from either Spottie or Lincraft (I can't remember which!)

Thread: Gutermann 100% polyester, colour #111

Adjustments: I had plenty of this fabric so I've sewed the top exactly as instructed, just giving myself extra room at the waist and hip level.  As with my orange top, I've used a generic version of steam-a-seam for the hemline and it (again) feels a bit stiff, so when I make this top again (yes, I'm already planning to make it again) I'll just do a regular twin needle finish on the hem instead.

As you may have gathered, I love this pattern. I've also sewn up the skirt and am planning to make the jacket too - I think the pattern is a really great professional wardrobe builder. The wrap-around side seams on the top are really cool and I think they'll look great in a plain fabric. The neckline sits nicely, the fit is good, and I like the length of the top and the sleeves.


Now for some geometry.

Sewing these two tops got me thinking about raglan sleeves. The last time I sewed myself raglan sleeves was with this Papercut Undercover hoodie (sans hood), and I remember not being over the moon about the fit (though I wear the top heaps, so the fit is obviously no longer bugging me much).

Fit depends tremendously on your particular body shape and the fabric you use - and whether you use a size that is tight or loose on you - but I was curious to see how these three patterns compared in the shaping of the raglan seamline and thought you might be interested to see how the patterns compare too.

Vogue 8952 has curved raglan seams and a shoulder dart. The sleeve front and back armscyes are different shapes, as are the bodice front and back.  I think the curves and darts in these pattern pieces have the potential to give a very close fit.


Vogue 1389 has simpler looking curves but very different shapes and seam lengths for the front and back raglan seams.  The front seam length is of course shorter because the neckline is significantly lower at the front, but I'm guessing some curvature has been added and length removed for clever Donna Karan fitting reasons.

The Papercut Undercover hoodie top is close to symmetric, front to back, apart from the front neckline being a little lower than the back. This gives a boxier shape than the above two patterns, more of a "T" shape.

Here's what the Papercut raglan top looks like on (on the same day, with the same lighting, same goofy poses - ie ideal test conditions):

The looseness of the top makes it lovely and boxy, but the relatively flat curve in the front raglan seamline also results in more folds when my arm is by my side than I get with a more pronounced curve - well at least that's my impression!   But it IS a loose top, and the seamlines look very nice when my arm goes up.

I wouldn't say any of these three designs is "wrong" - but they are certainly different. 

For now I think the Donna Karan is my favourite (the floral top) of the three raglan sleeve patterns, but perhaps I should wait and see which of the tops gets the most wear.  Do you have a favourite raglan sleeve pattern? And do you like your raglan sleeves loose or fitted?

Thanks for reading

See you soon
- Gabrielle xx

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