Arms Run Free!

Inari Tee Dress Collage

I’m not sure a third Inari Tee Dress (my other versions here and here) would necessarily justify a blog post, if it wasn’t for the adjustments I made to those sleeves that are just too darn restrictive. If I can’t stretch to tie my trainer’s laces, I’m in trouble because I live in my trainers. (Any other city commuters out there with terrible feet?)

When I raised a question over the restrictive sleeves (difficult to stretch or raise arms) readers left some really useful comments, including recommendations for adding a sleeve gusset.

I was really intrigued to learn about sleeve gussets (comprehensive round up here) and was all set to add one to my next version of this dress. Then I thought, Or I could take a pattern that I know works and adapt their sleeve and armscye… So that’s what I did! Why make things harder than they need to be?

adapted sleeve for inari tee dress

I’m a big fan of the Simplicity 1366 pattern, its loose, boxy style not a million miles away from the Inari. That could work, couldn’t it? (In fact, looking back I see that Up Sew Late suggested this very pattern to adapt!) Above, you can see my original Inari bodice piece pinned to the beautiful denim linen I was working with. I then placed the Simplicity bodice piece on top and traced off the difference in sleeve design. A substantial difference, I think we’ll agree.

I don’t claim to understand pattern drafting one iota but I am intrigued by the above – what was working and what wasn’t. One person, Button And Needle, commented on how low the armscye comes on the Inari Tee Dress. Was this causing the restricted movement?

I think she’s on to something. With a deep armscye, you’re attaching a sleeve to a greater depth of bodice. So every time you raise your arms, you’re lifting a much bigger section of your dress. A section that may resist that movement. Am I right? Anyone out there know more about pattern drafting than me? (That would be everyone, Karen.)

inari tee dress in denim linen

Isn’t the fabric beautiful? It’s a denim linen from The Man Outside Sainsburys. I was told that it’s a viscose linen. I don’t believe that as this fabric creases as soon as you give it the side eye. But it creases in such a gorgeous way that I’m tempted to forgive it. Naughty linen! The Holly Golightly of fabrics. Too outre to care.

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38 Responses to Arms Run Free!

  1. kalimak says:

    Hi Karen! I’m glad you were able to get the sleeves to work on this one — such a lovely dress!
    Have you read/seen Kenneth D. King’s “hip-hop pants” explanation of lift in sleeves? It helped me so much with fitting the Colette Peony. I couldn’t move my arms with those original low-cut armscyes.

  2. Nancy Hoffman says:

    I just finished my Inari muslin, and had the same problem. Your solution looks perfect, will give it a go!! Thanks for bringing it up, I thought I was the only person in the WORLD the pattern wasn’t fitting….

  3. wakeymakes says:

    So grateful for you sharing this. I thought it was just me!! K xXx

  4. rosrams says:

    Like others, I thought this was me as there are so many lovely Inaris out there in blogland and everybody else’s seemed to fit. I made it in a woven and a knit and both were odd, sleeve-wise. So well done for letting us all off the hook!

  5. Elle says:

    You’re exactly right about the low armscye causing the problem. And once you have the image of Kenneth King in his hip-hop pants burned into your mind’s eye, you’ll never forget it!

  6. esewing says:

    I think you are right the original armhole line is also quite straight , the revised one gives you more cut on the bias which will assist with stretch whilst your tying your laces !
    Fabric is great love the colour !

  7. Cherie says:

    Just a note, “armscye” is the proper word…

  8. Jen (NY) says:

    I haven’t seen the Inari pattern itself, so I can’t say exactly — but the shape of the sleeve cap might be a contributing factor as well. I stumbled across an interesting visual explanation for armhole/armscye and sleeve cap interaction. Scroll down until you see tissue boxes… http://www.ikatbag.com/2014/03/subtelties-in-drafting-sleeves.html

    • Carolyn says:

      I was just about to suggest this post too. She talks about making the armscye as small as possible to maximize freedom of movement of the upper arm. I’ve tried making my armholes smaller, and it works fantastically. Karen, you’re absolutely right that the very low armscye on the Inari is probably the culprit. And on that topic, WHY is it so low?? I can’t imagine it would be comfortable on anyone.

      • Jen (NY) says:

        I read something about this (probably by Kathleen Fosanella). One reasons for a clunky fit design has to do with mass production – it’s more likely to fit more people (though none very well). I suspect that the persistent too-low armscythe in many patterns is attributable to the same sort of perspective.

  9. sarahrmonks says:

    Great solution, I am having a lot of trouble with the inari sleeve which sucks because I love the shape. I’m going to give this ago tonight!!

  10. SeeKatSew says:

    I love that linen, it’s gorgeous. Would you have to make the same sleeve adjustment if you made it again in a fabric with some stretch, like a ponte knit?

  11. Hay says:

    Glad it wasn’t just me then, I originally thought my narrow shoulders, chunky arms and full bust caused the problem, however like you I compared patterns and noticed the elongated armscye…..oh weird co-incident I have that same fabric in a beige (from my market man 😉 ) I think it is a viscose linen blend, I was planning a shirt for hubs, but oh that creasing!

  12. norma says:

    Good idea! I would like to try gussets but have so far been too timid.
    Love the linen

  13. Gorgeous dress and I love that fabric. I think you’re right about the armscyce being too low. I’m yet to make this dress but will watch out for this. Check out this video from Threads which explains why having a higher armscyce increases movement.

    http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/46609/video-how-to-modify-sleeves-for-better-arm-mobility

  14. That looks like it was definitely a too-low armscye causing the problem. It’s counterintuitive that a larger armhole leads to more restricted movement, but it does. The way I had it explained to me was that with a too-large armhole, the top of your arm is effectively tied to your side; the armscye has to come up right under the arm to allow the shoulder to flex properly.

  15. LinB says:

    Counterintuitive, but completely true that the higher the armscye — and the closer to one’s shoulder socket it fits — the more range of motion you’ll have. Learned this in a university costume shop, drafting leotards for dancers. True for any of the rotating joints: a closer fit means a greater range of motion.

  16. Lulu says:

    Just a note on the poor feet/trainers problem – I walk miles every day, and have found a very comfortable shoe you might like to try, if you fancy a change from trainers! I know you like a Mary Jane shoe (I love them too). It’s the Fitflop Mary Jane Leather shoe, I got mine from John Lewis. Seriously comfortable – it’s like walking on air thanks to the rubber wedged sole, but the dainty strap makes them look more refined. I can walk for miles in them. So happy I found them – I was going to go for similar in Clarks but these are just so comfortable. I was a bit put off by the brand initially as I associate Fitflops with, er, flip flops! But they are so good. Can recommend. Great dress by the way! The fabric is gorgeous.

  17. Chloe says:

    Oh my goodness – a shout out on Did You Make That! I am blushing. And very glad that you made this pattern work for you. I still have to try and fix mine – maybe for the end of MMM?

  18. Lovely fabric and so glad you’re happier with the third iteration of the dress! Love the sewing community, sharing experience and wisdom on all sorts of things 😊

  19. Antonia says:

    I’ve just finished a Named Keana shirt and the armscye is at least an inch too low. Is this a feature of Named pattern drafting?

  20. Gail says:

    Linen is magic isn’t it? I love the simplicity of the Inari, but a lot of sewers have had trouble with the fit.

  21. ellegeemakes says:

    Love the linen, it’s so worth the wrinkles! Might have to try this pattern, so cute!

  22. Just love that fabric, lovely dress

  23. Thank you for mentioning my blog Karen – and woo hoo, you cracked the curse of the Inari armscye! I love, love, LOVE your latest Inari in linen and am so pleased to hear Simplicity 1366 does the trick. The Inari goes back on my sewing list for next summer down under…

  24. Mags says:

    This has been the most useful post ever! I thought I was the only one with the Inari problem, I’ve read loads of posts on the Inari and non mentioned this problem. My first Inari was a disaster! Worse than that my sleeves often feel tight and I have actually lowered the arm scye …. Now I understand (the links were great) this will change my fit for ever!

  25. Great post, and even better comments. What great links folks. Thanks.

  26. people748 says:

    Love the look of the Inari tee dress, however I cannot justify the price. I recognize the designer needs to get compensated, but the pattern costs almost $30 in Canada.

  27. Barbara says:

    I love this dress – good fabric choice. And fabulous styling – love the navy tights and those shoes!

  28. Alessa says:

    That’s a beautiful fabric making a beautiful dress! Yay for managing to fix your fitting issues!

  29. Nicole says:

    Thanks heaps for this post! I just made a toile Inari and I am so glad I did before cutting into some beautiful ikat silk I have been saving for it, because I can barely move my arms! Not only are they pinned to my sides, the whole dress seems to migrate upwards between my bust and neck, leaving me with folds of fabric flopping around on my upper chest that i keep having to tug down every few metres. I was thinking that widening the sleeve cap would be a quick fix, but your photo demonstrating how low the armsyce is compared to a better fitting top is really helpful. Now I have a strategy for fixing the fit issues!
    But, do you have any suggestions for fixing an already-made Inari where the armscye has already been cut so low? Assuming you don’t have enough length to bring the whole thing up and re-cut the armscye and shoulders, do you think adding a pattern piece about the shape and size of the difference and sewing it in-between the original armscye and the sleeve would work? Obviously there would be a weird seam there… but maybe an opportunity for colourblocking or something interesting? I may give it a go and see how it works, I really like the dress except for the arm fitting issue!

  30. nicholaix says:

    Yay! My two muslins were awful and I had given up. I redrew them with the arm and sleeve from the Scout tee and voila! Thank heaven I muslined that or I would have been one unhappy mama.
    Thanks so much for this post, someone else on Instagram remembered it and sent me here.

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