Chances you are looking at Suzy Furrer’s Creative Sleeves drafting class because you are interested in drafting your own clothing designs, or want to achieve a much more comfortable fit for your own clothing. Suzy does an excellent job in teaching you how to draft a woven sleeve sloper and a knit sleeve sloper that can be easily manipulated to create numerous sleeve styles. Whilst she does not teach you all the various sleeve designs possible, she teaches you all the skills that are necessary to create the styles she hasn’t covered in the class.
Lesson One: Introduction and Meet Suzy Furrer
Suzy Furrer has been working in the apparel industry since the mid-’80s. After studying patternmaking with couturier Simmon Sethna in 1996, Suzy started Apparel Arts, a San Francisco-based fashion design school. She also wrote Building Patterns: The Architecture of Women’s Clothing, which is used as a textbook at Apparel Arts and other fashion design schools on the West Coast.
Lesson Two: Sleeve Sloper and Tailor Sleeve
This lesson begins with essential terms that you will need to know in order to draft sleeves.
The second section of this lesson involves drafting a sleeve sloper. This bit can take a little bit of time, but the results are worth it. Comfort is a high priority for all of us, and sleeves are one of those places that often feel tight and uncomfortable. They might look fine when standing still, but as soon as you lift your arms…
Before completing the sleeve sloper, Suzy shows you how to true it up with a bodice pattern. You could do this with either the bodice drafted in her class Patternmaking Basics: Bodice, or with a pre-existing bodice pattern.
The third part of this class is how to make a tailored sleeve. This essentially involves a dart placed strategically at your elbow to add a bit of ease and curve so that it’s more comfortable to bend your arms. Suzy does point out that you don’t necessarily need to sew a dart, but have options such as gathering the ease between two points.
The final part of this class covers information about fitting and adjusting your sleeve sloper. She covers tips such as confirming elbow position, lengthening and shortening, altering the sleeve cap, and finally checking the ease and wearing comfort.
Lesson Three: Lining, Placket, Pleat and Cuffs
Creating a lining for a garment, such as a jacket or coat, is actually quite easy if you know what you are doing. Suzy takes you through the process of drafting a jump pleat lining step-by-step, covering how to add extra ease for movement, stopping the lining from peeking out of the bottom of your arms and more.
Drafting a placket, pleat and cuff is a bit more complex. Suzy teaches you industry standard measurements, such as the common width of cuffs, to get the best results for your projects. She shows you where to place your pleats and how to add the extra material necessary for them. To get the shirt to fit nicely, it’s important for your shirt placket to line up nicely with your elbow; don’t worry, Suzy shows you how to calculate the position. The placket is probably the hardest piece to draft, and you may find that you need to go sew a placket or two to really get your head around the how plackets work.
Lesson Four: Sleeve Variations Part 1
In this lesson you will learn how to draft a short sleeve with a standard hem, a 3/4 sleeve with a folded cuff, a puff sleeve and a mutton leg sleeve. For each sleeve variation, Suzy teaches you how to alter your sloper and how to true the pattern so that a hem sits nicely. Finally Suzy discusses sleeve-head fabric choices such as tulle, organza, organdy or a stiff muslin .
The short sleeve is different to a cap sleeve, most notable because it has a section of material that continues from underneath the arm pit down to the hem of the sleeve.
Suzy explains how an exactly 3/4 length sleeve can make an arm look short. Instead, she teaches you the maths to create a perfect 3/4 sleeve, whilst keeping a long and graceful look. This sleeve will feature a self-turned hem, meaning that the sleeve hem turns up on the outside for a decorative look.
A puff sleeve features two sections: the puff and the band. Suzy will demonstrate how to draft the puff sleeve by slashing and spreading the pattern pieces. Did you know that the band shouldn’t have any ease, so that it doesn’t slide down the client’s arm?
A mutton leg sleeve pattern piece looks significantly different compared to most sleeve patterns. Suzy demonstrates how to draft a pleated mutton leg, although you should have the skills to be able to make them gathers if you desire.
Lesson Five: Sleeve Variations Part 2
In the second part of this class, Suzy teaches you how to draft a full bell sleeve, a flared variation of the bell sleeve, a cap sleeve and a petal sleeve.
For each sleeve type Suzy discusses how to finish the hem – such as using a cuff or a facing – and gives advice as to what would work well with each situation. She even explains how to help make sure that your patterns contain necessary details to send to production companies, whilst keeping costs down.
The full bell sleeve should be relatively easy to draft using the slash and spread method. It has fullness from the top of the cap of the sleeve and continues downwards to the hem.
The second bell sleeve example is fitted at the top cat and flares out from the elbow. This pattern actually becomes two pattern pieces, so Suzy also discusses how grainlines can alter the appearance of the garment.
The cap sleeve is much shorter than the short sleeve example in the previous lesson. In general, a cap sleeve is about 3 to 4 inches in height. Suzy explains how you can cut your cap sleeve with a straight edge, or a curved edge. Both are perfectly acceptable, though she states that the curved edge version may accure extra fees when put into production.
The petal sleeve is generally a short sleeve, with the maximum length usually extending to the elbow. You can have either the front over the back, or vice versa, without any alteration to functionality.
Lesson Six: Two Piece Sleeve and Vent
Whilst a two piece sleeve might not be used for blouses, it can come in use for jackets and coats.
For the two piece sleeve Suzy redrafts the sleeve sloper from A to Z (from lesson two). She then can easily cut the sleeve along the quarter marks that you have been using to draft patterns, and join the appropriate pieces together. She takes it a step further and adds some curvature on the pattern pieces to help achieve a more comfortable fit.
A vent will usually be placed upon a two piece sleeve pattern, being held down by three or four 5/8″ buttons. This part of the lesson really extends upon the last part – drafting the two piece sleeve.
Suzy will explain how to draft the sleeve vent based upon the size of the button size that you plan to use; useful since you might vary the size based upon the thickness of the fabric you plan to use. For example, a silk blouse will have a smaller button than a thick woollen coat.
Lesson Seven: Drop Shoulder Sleeve and Bodice
In the final lesson Suzy tells you how to adjust your sleeve sloper to work with knit fabrics. She assumes you have enough skills by now working with patterns that she doesn’t completely redraft the pattern, instead telling you the new measurements (basically removing ease) to make. She also compares it to the woven sleeve sloper so you can see how it should end up looking.
In order to draft the drop shoulder sleeve, Suzy begins by showing you the changes she has made to the body of the pattern (i.e. the front and back bodice) from her class Patternmaking and Design: Creative Necklines. (You don’t need to have taken this class into order to follow her lesson on drop shoulder sleeves, although you may find it helpful).
- Metric Conversion Guide PDF which comes with most Craftsy classes.
- Supplies, Measurements and Diagrams PDF which includes recommended supplies you will need to undertake the class, helpful external resources, common sleeve drafting and sewing terms, measurement chart and form, an order of construction guide, and a sample sloper to print and play with (great to practice the basic skills of pattern manipulation without the actual drafting).
Suzy is a very clear and concise teacher, so even a beginner at drafting shouldn’t have too much trouble following along. If you do come across any issues, this Craftsy class is monitor by Suzy so posting a question on their platform should get you a response within a few days time.
One of the main requests on the Craftsy platform is people wanting to learn how to draft Raglan sleeves. So far this lesson has not been added to the class, and there is not much information regarding another sleeve drafting class (at the time of writing this review).
If you enjoyed Suzy’s other drafting classes, then you will without a doubt enjoy Patternmaking and Design: Creative Sleeves. I do suggest you take her bodice making class first – Patternmaking Basics: Bodice – as it will give you a solid foundation to add the design elements on top of, although it is not required.
This class covers a number of sleeve variations that should hopefully give you quite a number of design options. Whilst it doesn’t teach all design options – see the note under Cons about raglan sleeves above – this class will teach all the foundational techniques required so that following external resources and tutorials shouldn’t be any issue.
Pattern making and Design: Creative Sleeves isn’t design for a sewing beginner in mind. Rather, skilled intermediate sewers who are comfortable reading and manipulating sewing patterns and advanced sewers should take this class. You should also be comfortable sewing sleeves without issues and guidance (as the class doesn’t cover sewing aspects, just the drafting).
I enjoyed this class. For me getting a proper fitting sleeve is always an issue; it usually pulls too much at the bust or is too tight at the bicep making the shirt uncomfortable to wear. I managed to make my first sleeve sloper (several are ideal to get the perfect fitting) before going on holidays and it was already much better fitting than the sleeves that come with standard commercial patterns. I’m honestly looking forward to perfecting the fit several times more before drafting more designs (although I did several for my 1/2 scale mannequin that worked out fine).