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Designing sleeve wadding


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#1 jefferyd

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 10:57 PM

We talk a lot about shoulders in tailored clothing. One important element in defining the look of the shoulder is the sleeve treatment; first, the seam can be put toward the sleeve for a rope, it can be opened for a continental shoulder (one with a defined crown but no rope) or a natural shoulder, or it can be put toward the coat for a neapolitan shoulder.

Second element is the type of wadding used. The traditional wadding was usually a piece of lambswool with a bias-cut cotton folded over it (see photo, item on top of crappy iphone photo). The disadvantages are that this can be a bit lumpy, it is limiting in the style of shoulder you can achieve (it tends to be ropy) and it tends to break down over time. We hear a lot about traditionally-made coats “settling” over time; I, personally, would rather deliver a garment which will keep its shape over time, rather than one that changes. But that’s me.

The wadding shown in the lower part of the photo is more common in RTW garments now because it affords more control to the designer and will keep its shape. It also helps with the dreaded “hanger appeal”, which bespoke tailors don’t have to worry about.



Two types of felt are commonly used- one is a basic needle-punch felt with a foam backing which is quite lofty and good for rope-style shoulders, the other is a needle-punch felt with a scrim (net) backing which is lighter and softer. I, personally, prefer the scrim felt for all applications over the foam but the foam keeps its shape better.

The canvas used is a special weave designed especially for, and only for, sleeve heads. It is a broken twill weave and is denser and has more roll to it than regular canvas. It is easy to tell the difference when you look at the back of the canvas (I’ll get a better photo tomorrow so you can see the difference). The canvas helps support the sleeve not only on a hanger, but on the wearer, and prevents disasters happening if the wearer should inadvisedly steam his suit (DON”T DO THIS!!!!!!)


The pattern for the sleeve head will depend on the type of shoulder you want. It starts with the sleeve pattern; start shaping the sleeve head as shown in figure 1. The degree of curve from this point will determine how much bulk you introduce into the sleeve cap- for a rope shoulder or one with a very defined crown, make a straighter shape, as in figure 2. For a natural shoulder (and by this I mean of the J Press/Southwick/Paul Stuart type) make a much more curved shape (figure 3), which will make a flatter profile with less bulk. From this basic shape you can develop your pieces.



For the felt piece, I don’t run it all the way down the front, though some do- it’s up to you. The first piece of canvas that you make will support the sleeve and define the crown (or not)- for a rope or continental shoulder, start the canvas about 2” down from the shoulder point. Be very careful to observe the HAIRLINE indicated on figure 1. I indicate the hairline and not the grainline because the canvas is streaky in the direction of the hair line and is easy to identify visually (the hairline is the crosswise grain). The large piece must be cut on the bias with the hairline RUNNING DOWN or you will get a dimple on the cap. A second, smaller piece is usual, as shown in green on figure 2. The hairline is also bias but the opposite to the large piece- this will ensure a nice forward roll on the front of the sleeve. A third piece can be cut, as shown in orange, on figure 2. Note the direction of the hairline.



A natural shoulder requires less canvas. The scye seam should be opened as much as 4” to either side of the shoulder point, and there should be no canvas in this area. It’s not as clean on a hanger, but is nice on the wearer. Start the canvas 4” down from the shoulder point as shown in figure 3. There should be no canvas in the top of the sleeve, and a third (sometimes fourth) piece is added to the back, as shown in orange.

A certain amount of experimentation will help you develop a sense of how the shape and size of each piece affects the final contour of the sleeve cap.



#2 Despos

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 12:41 PM

Jeffery
I have seen this method of using a sleevehead on a natural shoulder. The sleevehead is sewn as usual to about 4" from the shoulder seam, notched and then turned. From this point on it is sewn flat to the seam so that when the jacket is turned over the sleevehead is in a single layer and not folded over as is the norm. This is done until 3-4"past the shoulder seam and then notched, turned and then continued on in the normal way. Are you familiar with this method?

#3 jefferyd

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 10:01 PM

Yes, at one point a factory I worked for did something like this using the folded wadding on a roll- it was butted up against the seam line so there would be only one layer. Most people are going away from that wadding because of what happens to it after a cleaning or two- if you get a garment back to repair or alter you find a sleeve full of fuzz and no wadding left up top (the famous "it will break down over time"). I know of one designer who uses graduated layers of needle-punch so that the main foam is cut out of the seam allowance for the 4 inches on either side of the shoulder seam, leaving only a thin layer to be caught when attaching it; it's somewhat risky for fine cloth. I find that if you keep the canvas out of that area, open the seams that 4 inches on either side, use a very horseshoe-shaped wadding, and then give the top of the sleeve a good press on a blocker the result is just as good.

QUOTE (Despos @ May 3 2009, 12:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Jeffery
I have seen this method of using a sleevehead on a natural shoulder. The sleevehead is sewn as usual to about 4" from the shoulder seam, notched and then turned. From this point on it is sewn flat to the seam so that when the jacket is turned over the sleevehead is in a single layer and not folded over as is the norm. This is done until 3-4"past the shoulder seam and then notched, turned and then continued on in the normal way. Are you familiar with this method?






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