Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Sweater with Leg-of-Mutton Puffed Sleeves

On one of my flights home from Uganda I noticed a woman wearing a sweater with leg-of-mutton sleeves and I was stunned. How had I never thought to make an every day top with sleeves like that?? I love puffed sleeves!!

Now, for those of you wondering, leg-of-mutton sleeves are those which are puffed and very full at the top of the arm, and more fitted below the elbow. Bishop sleeves, on the other hand, are almost opposite, very full at the bottom of the sleeve, rather than the top, before being gathered in a tight cuff. (Here's a couple bishop sleeved tops I made last winter.)

Leg-of-mutton sleeves are the puffed sleeves which were popular in the 1890's - one of my favorite eras of fashion. They are the sleeves loved by Anne Shirley and frowned upon by Marilla for "wasting fabric" in Anne of Green Gables. (That scene in the book made me fall in love with puffed sleeves as a child, and, clearly, I have yet to fall out of love with them.)

This leg-of-mutton sleeved sweater on my flight from Brussels to Chicago made me realize I needed a top with similar sleeves in my wardrobe. Thus, within 24 hours of returning home, I had just such a sweater cut out and ready to sew together. (Though it would be the following week before the sweater actually got sewn up as I had to take a break and go to Florida for a cousin's wedding.)

I started with my trusty, tried-and-true, pattern, the Outer Banks Boatneck by Winter Wear Designs. This is, I think, the 12th time I've made this pattern. I've made a couple personal fitting alterations (mostly just adding a bit of width to the shoulders, like I have to do on every pattern.) and it fits me perfectly every time!

As I don't actually like the way bateau necklines look on me (I've altered the neckline shape every time I've made this pattern.) for this shirt I opted to slightly lower the front neckline and give it a bit of a sweetheart shape.

To do this I first cut out my front bodice with the normal bateau neckline, then free-handed my new neckline idea with the rotary cutter and altered the neckline facing to match.

Neckline sorted, it was on to the sleeves - the true eye-catcher of this top. I started by tracing the plain long sleeve included with the Outer Banks pattern.

Next I slashed my traced pattern piece from sleeve head to just above the elbow, where I wanted the fullness of my leg-of-mutton sleeves to end.

I spread the pattern piece apart where it was slashed until I thought it looked like I'd added enough fullness for a decently puffed sleeve.

Then I filled in my sleeve head with scrap paper. I drew in the new sleeve head shape following the underarm curves up at the front and back and adding a bit more height for extra puffiness.

With that my leg-of-mutton sleeve pattern was done and ready to use, it was on to cutting out and sewing up!

 I picked up an incredibly soft cotton rib-knit at a local quilting shop last spring and it seemed like just the fabric for my new sweater. It was a narrower width than most knit fabrics so the 2 yards I had was just barely enough to get the sweater, with it's puffed sleeves, cut out of.

 As I've had disastrous results when attempting to hem rib knit before, I opted to finish the sleeves and hem with bands instead of a traditional hem.

Since this rib-knit had no spandex to keep it from stretching out and loosing shape, I stabilized the seams between the shirt and the bands with fold-over elastic from my stash. (clear elastic is better for this, but I was using what I had on hand.

This sweater took a little longer to make than the Outer Banks Boatneck usually does, due to needing to gather the sleeves into the armscye, but it still went together relatively quickly and easily.

The finished sweater is just what I hoped it would be - soft, comfy, and snugly, with fabulous sleeves!

For pictures I paired it with my gold skinny jeans from 2 years ago, which recently got an update.

The old metal zipper I'd used for the fly gave out, loosing teeth until it didn't work anymore.

I ripped the old zipper out and replaced it with jeans buttons and button holes for a button fly, since that was easier than installing a new zipper would have been. (A new zipper would have required removing the waistband, this didn't.)

With their fancy button fly my gold skinny jeans are back in regular wardrobe rotation, which makes me pretty happy.

Who knew gold skinny jeans would get worn as often as they do?

They pair well with a surprisingly wide variety of tops in my wardrobe, and it's always exciting when a new top can be worn with them.

Such as a soft blue sweater with fabulous puffed sleeves!


1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, that leg-of-mutton sleeves and me have a touch and go relationship, but yours look very attractive. Together with the top stitched yolk it gives a princess affect!
    And though I wasn't a fan of Anne's blue dress (horror, I know!) as a girl I adored Dianna Barry's round puffed sleeves in the movie at the Christmas ball!