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The Shawl Collar Dress - Widening or lengthening the sleeves
3rd October 2019

In this journal post we show you how you can widen or lengthen the sleeves of the Shawl Collar Dress.

The sleeves are grown-on to the body of the dress, with the back cut so that the shoulder seam falls forward slightly. This means that the back sleeve is wider than the front.  

It is possible to widen the sleeve by 2cm without radically altering the line of the dress. To do this the alteration will be on the dress front only.

Trace off the top half of the front piece of the pattern. Draw a line from the point marked down to the mid point of the cuff.

Cut the paper along the line and swing the top section up by 2cm. Make sure that only the sleeve moves not the front of the dress that forms the collar.

To widen the sleeves further requires drawing a new shoulder line on both front and back dress pieces. This however alters the overall line of the dress.

Lengthening the sleeve is fairly simple but limited by the width of the fabric - for this alteration 150 cm wide fabric is required. Be aware that the sleeve will twist slightly once extended as the sleeve is not cut on the grain. This is not a problem with fluid fabrics or fabrics with some 'give' like the crepe fabric shown here. But if a crisp cotton were used the sleeves may feel constricting. 

The most economical way to extend the sleeves is to add a centre front and centre back seam. Instead of placing the pattern pieces on the fold as instructed add a 1cm seam allowance to both Centre front and centre back.

To lengthen the sleeves to full length, take the pattern pieces and extend the sleeve line by 34cm as shown.

The new fabric lay is as shown. The fabric is laid flat and the pattern pieces staggered, the fabric required has now increased to 2.75m.

In this version of the Shawl Collar Dress the fold is secured with two small, tightly spaced zigzag stitches.

These could also be replaced by buttons. The finished dress is an elegant addition to the winter wardrobe.