After four separate attempts, I’ve finally produced a wearable sleeve cap! It’s a little embarrassing that I totally overlooked taking the around-the-arm shoulder-to-shoulder measurement and kept producing silly narrow sleeve caps, but at least I figured it out! In case you missed it, you can catch up from my previous post, the sleeve cap nightmare.
The bottom line of sleeve cap design is that the sleeve cap must 1) fit into the armhole and 2) fit over your arm. I was totally neglecting the second requirement!
Here’s a schematic of what was going on:My sweater had a ton of ease that I had to reduce away to get the sweater narrow enough at the shoulders for the set-in sleeve. This required a large bind off and then lots of reducing afterwards. Most sweater design books suggest that your sleeve cap reduction mimic this curve. But, as you can see, for my sleeve, this means that I’m reduced to only 6″ of fabric before I even get to the top of the sleeve cap. I knit 2 narrow sleeve caps in a row and seamed them into place with disastrous results, as you can imagine.
Once I finally measured my arm from shoulder-to-shoulder and then measured the sleeve cap from an existing sweater, it dawned on me that I was reducing too many stitches in the initial curve. Eliminating the steep reducing slope on my sleeve cap kept enough stitches to adequately cover my arm. Yay for that! It turns out that most adults need around 3″ on the final bind off and over 8″ in width across the upper arm. Who knew?!?
I was so focused on making sure that the circumference of the sleeve cap curve would match the circumference of the armhole that I totally overlooked the width. To ensure the pieces will match up when seamed, the rows on each piece have to match. But since we’ve got that horizontal bind off of the sleeve cap to match with the vertical rows of the armhole, the bind off rows need to be translated into vertical rows. Understanding this helps you determine how tall you can make the sleeve cap.
In the end, I’m glad I conquered my fear of the sleeve cap and on the fourth try, got it to fit. 🙂 Next time, I may plot out the sleeve cap before I knit the sleeve. A little extra ease in the sleeve would have also given me more stitches to work with and the curves could have matched up a little more.