Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sleeeeeeep. Neeed.

I was up until 3:30 making the Filipino costume for Princess. It is all done except for the alterations. It needs to be taken in at the waist, and hemmed, and I need to add the hooks and eyes that hold the sleeves on and the hook and eye at the top of the zipper. I made it with extra material in the sides and hems so that it can be let out as she grows and will fit her for a while. That was one reason that I made the sleeves removable.

On a lot of these dresses the sleeves are removable because they are stiffened with crinoline (which loses all its wonderful stiff qualities on contact with soap and water). This makes the dress washable even though the sleeves are not. The other reason I made the sleeves removable is that it makes letting out the dress insanely easy. When a dress with sleeves is let out at the armpit for a larger chest, set-in sleeves must also be let out because their seam intersects the seam being let out. But detachable sleeves don't have to be let out when you let out the bodice, which is nice because these sort of butterfly sleeves don't really lend themselves to being altered. They have a carefully crafted shape which would be distorted if their side seam were let out.

Another factor in the sleeve connection is freedom of movement. Butterfly sleeves are insanely stiff, and if they were attached to the bottom of the armpit you'd need a gusset inserted in order to move your arms. The removable sleeves attach only at the top half of the armhole, leaving the bottom half "ventilated". Although we Westerners find it odd to not have sleeves attached all around, and tend to think of it as exposing the armpit (as if the armpit were some sort of private part), this is not an uncommon thing to find in Asian clothes and in dance costumes.

Anyway you probably weren't interested in the design considerations of removable vs. non-removable sleeves so I'll stop my sleepless rambling now and focus on getting the kids off to school.