Cap Sleeve Draft: Margolis 2 with Flypaper Thoughts

Adele Margolis (Create Your Own Dress Patterns) suggests a second procedure for joining the new shoulder point to the side seam. I’m calling this Margolis #2.  The shoulder is extended the desired length and the underarm marked 1-2″ below the sloper’s. Then the side seam is drawn by connecting the new shoulder point to the hem — not the lowered armscye. As with the other drafts, when the side seam is sewn, it is sewn from the marked underarm to hem.

This simple change makes a huge difference.  No longer is there any side seam shaping. My real concern is the amount of ease added between bust and hip. This put’s us into pillow-case garment territory.  Not that it’s entirely bad. For example,

I keep a caftan in my wardrobe. Sometimes two. I like this free-flowing garment as a swim suit coverup and after shower wear. For all the fabric in a caftan, it can be cool when made of light weight cotton. Another free-flowing garment with the same basic shaping is the hip or thigh length  caftan.

and it’s another style I want at least one in my closet.  I like it for Spring and Fall days that start cool but warm dramatically.  Currently, I have a beautiful silk chiffon in this capacity. Unfortunately, it’s only worn 2 or 3 times a year. Multiples would sit unworn in the close and are therefore not desirable–by me.

A 3rd example would be my vests made using New Look 6249.

The basic shape is further modified by a wider neckline and the front edges do not meet.  A long rectangular strip is added to the front edges and around the neckline.  When worn,  the strip is folded around the neck to resemble a shawl collar. I have two 6249 vests made in soft wools. Here is the first one:

My 6249 vests are worn frequently Fall, Winter and Spring. They are perfect 3rd layers — for me.  I suppose a lace or gauze could be a nice addition for summer. I hesitate due to my life style.  In the summer, I need 3rd layers for overly cooled rooms like the doctors’ offices or the grocery-store freezer section.  I need extra warmth in those situations. My other 3rd-layer use during warm-weather  is protection from the sun.  I will sunburn while sitting in the car.  The 6249 vest fails to protect my arms from both cold and sunburn during warm weather.  So while a lace/gauze vest might be nice for someone, it’s unlikely to be worn by me.  I try to not make garments I won’t wear.

I didn’t feel the need to cut fabric and test Margolis #2. I’m deeply involved in a learning experience of drafting the extended shoulder/cap sleeve and making it attractive on my body. I already have samples of Margolis #2 in my closet. I know the shape it creates. Know the fabrics I like for this shape. Know how a finished garment looks on me.  Don’t need to waste fabric or time making yet another sample.



  •  Margolis 1
  • B&R
  • Margolis 2
  1. Margolis 1
    Alterations: Move Shoulder dart to CB. Add 1/4″ to side seam to offset loss of ease at CB. Extend cap sleeve 5.5″. Lower
    underarm 2″
    Fit: poor in the back. Possibly this was aggravated or even created by my moving the shoulder dart to CB. Front looks a little large. Cap sleeve is way too tight across my bicep.
  2. B&R
    Alterations:  Back only: Pivot and slide to add 1/2″ ease at underarm though hip using. Raise the shoulder point 3/8″. Extend  cap sleeve 5.5″.  Lower underarm 2″
    Fit:  (Note: I did not sew vertical darts either front or back). Back fits better but may still need more width at underarm. Back still wants to puddle above my high, prominent seat. Can be pulled down, but gradually creeps up creating creases at the waist. This could be a fabric issue but more likely I have a ease mismatch. Front again fits nicely even a bit large.  Both front and back have vertical drag lines where I would expect to see a set-in sleeve seam. I don’t find it objectionable. OTOH I ‘m not sure if this is par for this type draft, a fabric issue or a fitting error. Sleeves are more comfortable. I would not notice any restriction in a knit fabric but this cotton/poly does bind across my upper arm in front. The cap-sleeve back feels just fine.
  3. Margolis 2
    Alterations:  Shoulder point raised 3/8″; length extend  5.5″.  Drew new side seam by drawing an angled, straight line between new shoulder point and hem.
    Fit: Did not make sample. I compared the pattern pieces and found it is nearly the same as my Vest 6249. I have caftans and over blouses with very similar shapes. They are loose, unshaped and can be unflattering depending upon length and fabric chosen.



  1. I chose to  extended the cap 5.5″ after comparing my sloper with the PAS. Comparing pics, the sleeves look very similar but the PAS doesn’t bind and doesn’t have back issues. When
    wearing the finished garment from my draft, I feel the sleeve binding although this might not be noticeable if I were using a knit fabric.  Also, the binding effect was lessened in the B&R which may be attributable to the 1/2″  ease added at underarm.
  2. I’m extending the shoulder at the same angle as the shoulder. Does it need to be more horizontal?  I mean, the new armscye clearly narrows as the shoulder becomes longer. Would a shorter armscye say 3″ instead of 5.5″ be more comfortable or even completely eliminate the binding felt in the sleeve cap? A shoulder line which is perpendicular to the upright CB seam, creates lots of upper back wrinkles in my garments. Even contributes a few to the center back puddle which most people think is a sway back issue.  I”m not seeing those wrinkles now. Is it a bad idea to even think of changing the shoulder slope angle?
  3. Also is the 3/8″ raising of the shoulder point set in stone?  Can I use say 3/4″ or even more?
  4. One thing drafting does, is make me more aware of why certain styles are the way they are and why they aren’t going to work for me. Having a nice indented waist, I’m very shapely in the back.  From back, front and side views,  I’m clearly a pear shape.  My shoulders are measurably narrower than the standard. (My shoulder length isn’t even listed on any standard women’s measurement charts that I could find). The very straight, mostly up and down side seam of Margolis #2 is often unflattering on me. Knowing that, should I eliminate this possibility as a style choice for me? Or just continue to be very selective in its use?
  5. I searched through my Burda Magazine collection for cap sleeves formed by extending the shoulder. (I didn’t include kimono sleeve styles; or cap sleeves formed by connecting the new shoulder point within the armscye; or set-in cap-sleeves.) In my nearly 17-year collection (spanning 1999 through 2016), the  extended shoulder is not often used. Is that because fit is as difficult for others as it has been for me? Or that it is generally unflattering?
  6. I’d think that such simple lines would be easy to fit i.e just get it big enough and use a flowing fabric. I’ve made 2 muslins without solving the restricted movement/binding of my upper arm and I’m still not sure the velcro butt issue is not simply a lack of sufficient ease in the right place (IOW I have plenty of ease but it may be below my hip instead of at the place I need the most ease).
  7. This is frustrating for me because just 3 weeks ago I used the same sloper without any changes to make a perfectly fitting blouse.  Try to attach a cap sleeve and I have shoulder, back, hip and sleeve fitting issues.
  8. Adele Margolis wrote that the “…cap should only be deep enough to cover the shoulders. If it’s any deeper, it must be drafted by the regulation kimono-sleeve method.” (Page 398 Draft Your Own Dress Patterns).  However her diagrams show proportions very similar to what  I used. IOW my pattern piece looks exactly like her diagram. I was perplexed by the conflict between verbiage and illustration but went ahead and followed the illustration. BTW, my sloper is already 1/4″ beyond my shoulder because it includes a seam allowance for sleeves. Extending the shoulder at all seemed to violate her rule of not extending beyond the natural shoulder point. Maybe I should have worked with the much more complicated kimono draft?
  9. I’m not sure how much my ‘narrow’ shoulder is affecting the cap sleeve draft. I have to adapt for narrow, sloping and uneven shoulders. It get’s to be much. Sometimes.
  10. I had problems locating the instructions for this type sleeve because I was looking for ‘extended shoulder’. I really don’t think of this as a cap sleeve. To me, the ‘cap sleeve’ designation belongs to something else. But when I Googled ‘cap sleeve’ many pictures were returned with every imaginable shoulder line/sleeve that didn’t use the natural shoulder’s edge as the end of the garment shoulder.  This is one of those times when I find it extremely frustrating that we don’t use words as they are defined. We keep expanding definitions and using old words to mean something new. Frustrating because I’m looking for a specific answer. Couldn’t find it with the term I was taught and found too much that didn’t apply when looking for what is now the common term. i.e. couldn’t find what I wanted when I looked for ‘extended shoulder’ found too much when I look for ‘cap sleeve’.  Of course, I could be wrong. Just because my early teachers, peers and relatives said this was an ‘extended shoulder’ doesn’t mean I’m correct.

The real question is, where do I go from here?  I started this journey because I couldn’t fit CLD’s YED vest. I know of 3 CLD patterns with very similar appearing shoulder lines (the Pure and Simple Shell PAS, Your Everyday Drifter vest YED and the Relax A Little top RAL). With some work, the PAS now fits. I think I’m close on a YED type top.  Should I make a stab at a RAL now or solve the YED issues first?  Should I quit playing with the extended shoulder and start where Louise Cutting does (the kimono draft)? There’s also the in-armscye cap sleeve whose draft I haven’t explored at all but I’ve made a very Burda versions and liked them very much. I do like the cap sleeve very much.  I think it helps visually balance my narrow shoulders with my hips. Much to my regret,  the extended shoulder was shunned by fashion for many years.  I remember seeing it everywhere when I was a child. It seemed very feminine and flattering on my aunts and older cousins. Perhaps nostalgia is clouding my memory but I know the extended shoulder/cap sleeve is a more flattering design line for me.  .. ah time to think…


One thought on “Cap Sleeve Draft: Margolis 2 with Flypaper Thoughts


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s