Friday, April 17, 2009

When Polarfleece Sleeves are Too Short

My arms are longer than is normal for my height. A perpetual shopping challenge is finding sleeves long enough to keep my wrists from freezing or from looking silly dangling out of a garment I've apparently outgrown.

I recently went shopping for polarfleece zipped jackets (The Warehouse, 2 for NZ$40). The choice was to get size Medium which gaped around my torso letting cold air in, but had sleeves of a comfortable length, or to get size Small which fitted my torso but had sleeves 2 inches too short. The cuffs were folded over a wide band of elastic, so I decided to get Size Small and see what could be done to lengthen the sleeves.

When unpicked (the factory used so much thread it took me 40 minutes per sleeve!), I had an additional 1.5 inches in length, but unelasticated, the sleeve openings flapped wide and unattractive. Knowing that polarfleece edges are often left raw (unstitched) because fleece doesn't unravel, I decided to give myself all possible length by not hemming the sleeves, and to remove the extra width by inserting pleats.

Starting with the maroon fleece, I used one big pleat and stitched 3 rows (2 to secure the pleat, and 1 more to turn it into a feature rather than a fix) up as far as the original stitch line (a tight squeeze on my machine).

Click on image for enlargement

I decided this pleat size created more bulk along my forearm than was comfortable, so on the navy one, I used two small pleats.

Step 1: Reinforce the sleeve seam at the cuff by running the machine back and forth a couple of times.

Step 2: I placed 2 orange pins at 3cm apart, and 2 red pins at 3cm apart, with 2cm between the sets. I brought the orange pins to meet each other, folded the pleat flat and pinned. Ditto with red pins. (The black pins are securing the folds.)

Step 3: Top stitched pleats from hem to 4cm up the sleeve.

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