Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gertie's Week in Review {4.30.11}

Good morning, friends! Yes, it's past noon. But I only just recently woke up; I think I needed the extra sleep after this crazy week.

Sewing-wise, all I accomplished was finishing my Elizabeth Taylor-inspired slip to go on The Sew Weekly. I love it, but it sucked up a lot of time.

So today will be a mad dash trying to catch up on patternmaking for my book. I think I'm about three patterns behind where I'm supposed to be. Yikes! I need some little patternmaking elves to come help me. Have any of those you can spare?

Are you all recovered from the excitement of the royal wedding? I got much more caught up in it all than I expected to. I had a lot going on yesterday. My dad was having surgery to remove a brain tumor (it's his second), so I was waiting to hear how it went. I suppose the wedding was a bit of a distraction. Anyway, my dad is doing much better than expected and was even chatting the nurse's ear off last night. Mom said he's being perfectly himself, by which she means a nuisance. Apparently he wanted to regale the nurse with all sorts of stories. Yep, that does sound just like him!

And to top off the week, today is Jeff's birthday! I love birthdays. We're going out to a tapas restaurant with a big group of friends and I know it will be a blast. I just have to decide what to wear.

Also, breaking news: I bought a new curling iron yesterday! And I'm obsessed with it. It's called The Bombshell by Sultra, and it doesn't have a clamp. Instead, you wear a heatproof glove and wrap your hair around the iron, hold it there for a few seconds, and then pull the iron out while holding onto the curl. You let the curl cool a bit in your fingers and then release it. (Sultra has a bunch of tutorials and videos here if you want to see it in action.) It makes the most gorgeous curls. Also, I discovered that it's the perfect tool for making victory rolls. I think I'll do a video tutorial on that soon; I think this curling iron will be a godsend to retro-loving ladies. Also, it's weirdly fun to use. I was loathe to spend this much on a curling iron, but I'm glad I did. You can buy it at Sephora, if you're interested. (Plus, they have a great return policy if you decide you don't like it.)

Hey, I passed 3,000 blog followers yesterday! That was an amazing number to see. I'm thinking about a fun giveaway to celebrate and thank you all.

Well, I think that's enough excitement for one post. I'm going to go rustle up my patternmaking elves and get to work! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Are you guys flipping out? Royal Wedding day!!! I'm not one of those people who got up at 4:00 in the morning to watch, but I was excited to see THE DRESS once I eventually roused myself from my beauty sleep. And goodness, it didn't disappoint, did it? People are rather astutely comparing to Princess Grace's dress. I found it refreshing to see a wedding gown with sleeves, since strapless has been so in vogue for the last decade. (Update: of course, she had to cover her shoulders for the cermemony, but I suppose I was expecting a strapless dress underneath some sort of cover-up.)

All sewists should definitely check out the description of the dress on the official Royal Wedding page, which goes into painstaking detail. The most fascinating part is the lace, no doubt. It was the star of the show on this gown, making up the overlay on the bodice, appliqued to the skirt, and even to the silk tulle underskirt.

The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace.  The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s.  Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock. 

And if that weren't detailed enough, you can also read about how often the workers washed their hands and their ages.
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design. The lace motifs were pinned, ‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif. The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean. . . . The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.
It was very nice getting to read a description that goes into such specific detail about sewing technique and materials. For example: The body of the gown was made of satin gazar, a smooth crisp silk. The wedding site also goes into the various inspirations for the gown, saying "The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs." Padded hips? Interesting!

I'll end by saying I'm so glad she went with a female designer. This is going to make Sarah Burton the big designer to watch; rumors are flying that she's the top pick to succeed Galliano at Dior. Congrats, Ms. Burton!

McCall's Goes a Little Bit Retro This Season

Have you all seen this new McCall's pattern? It's the spitting image of the yellow dress I draped last summer!

bodice, mid-construction
Of course, I can't take any design credit for it since I knocked it off an Athropologie dress.
If I had just waited a year, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble!

There's also a version with side cowls on the skirt, which I'm not too fond of.

 But I like this strapless version with a contrast bodice.
Bonus: the pattern has 3 different cup sizes.

There's another very cute, retro-inspired pattern from McCall's this season, M6331. It doesn't look like much in the photos.

 But then look at these cute line drawings! This is another multi-cup size pattern.
It's awesome to see such cute vintage-inspired designs in the latest collection. Keep 'em coming, McCall's!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Daily Dress: Amber Riley at The Golden Globes

Since we talked about Glee, plus-size actresses, and sleeveless dresses in today's post, I figured now was the perfect time to show this picture of Amber Riley looking stunning in a classic gown by Oliver Tolentino at The Golden Globe awards. I loved this dress the moment I first saw it, and I think she blew the other ladies out of the water, plus size or not. The mermaid shape is incredibly flattering on her, and what's not to love about a sparkly silver gown? The shape of the bodice brings old Hollywood glamour to mind.

The construction of this dress is interesting in that it has a drapey effect, even while being encrusted in sequins. Now, I'll admit, I know pretty much nothing about sequined fabric. The varieties I've researched online seem to be on a mesh backing, so maybe that provides some fluidity? Any thoughts?

Why Aren't Plus Size Actresses Allowed to Show Their Arms?

I love this movie poster. It's currently posted in every single subway station I frequent, and I find it just plain delightful. They look like a girl bridesmaid gang pulling off a bank heist or something. (I'm pretty sure this doesn't actually happen in the movie, FYI.) Other women in the train station seem just as intrigued by it, and we all seem to spend lots of commuting time studying it with fascination.

But there's one thing about the poster that's off to me. Why, why, WHY does the plus-size actress always have to wear sleeves? Even at the risk of ruining the perfect group ensemble thing they've got going on? It just screams LOOK THIS ACTRESS ISN'T AS THIN AS THE OTHERS OMG.

For the larger actress (Melissa McCarthy), it even looks like they sewed a different skirt and sleeves to the same dress bodice the other women are wearing, and the fabric is more matte. But why? Melissa McCarthy (aka Sookie from The Gilmore Girls) is a good-looking woman and I doubt anyone's retinas would be permanently seared from seeing her bare arms.

Glee pulls this stunt quite a bit too, having Ashley Fink wear long-sleeved versions of the Glee club's costumes. Once they even had her wear a black cardigan over the ombre Betsey Johnson dresses they wore while the rest of the girls went bare-armed, including Amber Riley, who is plus-sized but thinner than Ashley. It's almost as though this whole phenomenon requires that only one woman be isolated as too big to wear sleeveless dresses.

Now, I get that there are a lot of reasons this could be happening.

First, I know some plus size women (and frankly, even non-plus size women) are uncomfortable showing their arms. But if this is so, isn't that probably because we've created the very media environment that makes them uncomfortable? Furthermore, I would really question whether this is about the actresses' comfort and not about catering to a fat-phobic viewership. I've read the terrible comments people have posted on articles about Ashely Fink. Also, who can forget the whole Marie Claire debacle in which blogger Maura Kelly took issue with the Melissa McCarthy's sitcom Mike and Molly, saying  she didn't want to "watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other." So, obviously, we're dealing with a culture that tells overweight women that they don't deserve to be seen, that their bodies should be hidden for fear of offending people.

Next possible reason for all the arm-covering: As seamstresses--heck, as women--we know how wonky ready-to-wear sizes are. Even sewing patterns usually don't extend beyond a size 20, the equivalent of a 14 in retail sizes. So yes, perhaps it is difficult to find a wide range of sizes in the same dress, especially if a costume designer is sourcing from designer shops. And yet I'm still not buying it.

Ashley Fink wore a Betsey Johnson dress in the sectionals episode, so we know she can fit into them.

And for the last regionals competition (pictured above), the costume designer said in an interview that the dresses are bridesmaids dresses.
This year, the show needed a designer who’s used to making dresses of varying sizes on a tight turnaround, so who better than a bridal designer? Eyrich’s team ordered aqua bridesmaids dresses from Los Angeles-based Jenny Yoo (who also did the girls’ dresses for Kurt and Finn’s parents’ wedding) on a Wednesday; Yoo made them on a Thursday, and on Friday, Eyrich and her team fit the dresses on the girls — who require a wide range of sizes — and added sashes around the waists and applied jewels from deconstructed BCBG necklaces to the fronts. [emphasis mine]
My favorite comment on that article goes to Pamela, who said, "Could you clarify whether the cast require a variety/wide range of sizes? I’m not quite sure you’ve quite made your point about how there are fat people on this show." Nicely played, Pamela, nicely played.

Since the dresses were custom made, they easily could have been coordinated so they're all in the same style, sleeveless or not. Which brings us full-circle back to Bridesmaids. If the Glee costume designer had to go to bridesmaid dresses to be able to get dresses in a variety of sizes, shouldn't a movie called BRIDESMAIDS (!!!) be able to do the same?

I think what bothers me most about it is that it seems deliberately exclusive: just look at the way Melissa McCarthy is set off from the group in that Bridesmaids poster. Both of these shows depend on a group dynamic, about the bond that exists between the characters, whether it's a bunch of misfit glee clubbers or a motley bridal party. It's about the humanity that connects them all. And this whole "one of these things isn't like the others" crap is really messing with that bond. So please, Hollywood: could we accept the possibility that you don't have to be tiny to wear a sleeveless dress and look awesome doing it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Daily Dress: Courtney Love

I know the whole concept of this post borders on blasphemous, but it seems so apropos after today's Elizabeth Taylor slip post. Because the other woman who I think of when I think vintage slips is . . . Courtney Love. Now, I'm not suggesting that Courtney Love and Elizabeth Taylor have anything else in common and some of Love's recent actions have not made her someone we'd want to compare to a recently departed, beloved actress like Liz. And yet! Courtney Love brought the vintage slip into its retro heyday: the era of Grunge.

I unapologetically like anything Grunge-related, including but not limited to: Doc Martens, Flannel babydoll dresses, and most importantly: underthings as outerthings. Also, who could dislike the decade that brought us riot grrls and My So-Called Life? I graduated from high school in 1997, so I would say this whole cultural movement was a big part of my coming of age, if you will.
And yes, I loved Hole. I loved the whole princess grunge thing: lacy slip dresses paired with combat boots, tiaras, and smeared lipstick. I loved the raw emotion of the music; the Celebrity Skin lyric "Have you ever felt so used-up as this?" always gets me. I certainly credit Courtney with my interest in the history of lingerie. I remember buying a neon pink vintage slip in a thrift store and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.
Courtney Love wore vintage slips and nightgowns everywhere in the 90s: to the Oscars, on family outings, to perform. And so today the Daily Dress is dedicated to Courtney. Hey, did you know she now sells her old clothing on eBay? You can buy this vintage Vanity Fair slip from her personal collection. Grunge lovers, take note.

Movie Star Slip

Hey readers, today I'm blogging over at The Sew Weekly with  my contribution to the Uncommon Thread project. This was an effort of 8 different sewing bloggers to use yardage from the same vintage spool of lace and I've loved seeing all the varied results. I made an Elizabeth Taylor-inspired slip and then (gulp) modeled it. Come read the post for more details!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marc Jacobs Giveaway Winner!

The winner is lucky number 201 . . . toboldlysew! She'll get the Marc Jacobs skirt pattern, MAC lipstick, and Zoya nail polish. Please drop me a line and we'll get your prizes off to you. Congrats!

Dissecting a Dress: Atelier Versace Gown

Yesterday I got an e-mail from Charlotte, who is making her own prom dress and needs some sewing advice. I confess that I love getting this type of e-mail; it makes me feel like the prom dress fairy godmother. (Wouldn't it be fun to teach a prom dress class over a semester or two? What times we'd have--fitting, sewing, talking about boys! But I digress.)

Charlotte wants to replicate details from the Atelier Versace gown seen on Anne Hathaway (above), making it a knee-length look. She's feeling confident on the strapless bodice but doesn't know how to construct the ruffles. Here's a detail shot of the dress on the lovely Emma Watson. (Click to supersize.)
Here's my theory: I think the ruffles appear to be a series of cascading flounces. This type of flounce is cut in a spiral. Like below, but the line would continue around as large as you want in a spiral.

{source: Threads Magazine #112}

And then when sewn in vertical lines, they "cascade" or zigzag down the length of a skirt. The Versace looks to be a dramatic take on the ruffle pencil skirts that were everywhere last year.

Here they are on a gown, but sewn in straight lines rather than grouped together like the Versace gown.

It looks like Versace used a combination of fabrics and colors to create the wave-like effect of the gown. I'm seeing some tulle, organza, and perhaps some crepe and chiffon? in shades of ivory, pale greyish lavender, and seafoam. Some of the flounces look like they have a narrow rolled hem, others appear to be self-faced (like the organza), and the tulle is simply trimmed and left raw.

On the other side of the gown, it looks like the flounces are arranged into pseudo-rosette shapes.

I think Charlotte could replicate the effect by making several casades in three different fabrics and colors, finishing the edges if needed, and then stacking them on top of each other in sets. Then they would be hand-stitched to the skirt of her dress, making a zigzag line down to the hem. I think the fun in designing the dress would be deciding how to group the cascades and where to position them.

Readers, what do you make of my dress diagnosis? Do you agree? Any other ideas or tips to give Charlotte?

P.S. Any other readers out there working on your prom dresses? Drop Aunt Gertie a line!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Daily Dress: Nanette Lepore Eyelet Sheath

Given that this morning's post was about New York's Garment District, it seems fitting to look at a dress designed by Nanette Lepore this afternoon. Nanette is one of the biggest voices in the fight to save the Garment District and to keep fashion jobs there. For a little history on all this, see her op-ed piece in the Huffington Post. 80% of her pieces are made right here in New York!

This eyelet sheath is from a couple years ago, and I just love it. It has a very early 60s vibe, and I like how the eyelet is played up by binding the edges rather than fully lining the dress. There was an attached slip made of acetate inside the dress. (Have any of you sewn with acetate? I notice that it's common in vintage dresses too.) The bow is a detachable belt that fastens in the back. The dress also came in navy.
Look at the little bows on the sleeves and the lovely v-back. The hair is perfect too.
I was just at Mood and saw this red eyelet for sale. Perfect for recreating this little number, no? They have it in a bunch of colors if (for some crazy reason) you're not keen on red. (Update: Hey, it's online too!)
The basic pattern could be something as simple as this, with maybe a couple waist darts added for shaping.

Just the thing for spring!

My Garment District Guide

Here's a long overdue post! I often get e-mails asking what my favorite shops are for fabric, notions, and trims here in New York. Since I do the majority of my supply shopping in the Garment District, I've definitely developed my list of favorites.

I'll start by saying that there are a TON of places you can go, and if you have a lot of time, just head to 42nd street and 7th Avenue and start exploring. There are dozens of little hole-in-the-wall places between 7th and 8th Avenues, from about 37th Street to 42nd Street. (Also check out the blog Shop the Garment District from our very own Lindsay T Sews.)

I rarely have much time, as I'm often shopping on my lunch break. So these are my tried and true places, the ones I gravitate to over and over again. Be sure to call or check the websites for hours, since many of these places are only open weekdays during business hours. Also, many close for Jewish holidays.

Note: each category is in order of my personal preference, taking into account lots of factors like convenience and selection.


B&J Fabrics, 525 7th Avenue at 38th Street, 2nd floor. This is my absolute favorite fabric stop. It's well-organized, well-lit, and filled with gorgeous fabrics. Come here for unusual finds, best-quality staples, and the biggest collection of Liberty cotton lawn in the city. If I'm looking for something specific, like lime-green wool doubleknit or raspberry Alencon lace, I come here since they really seem to have everything. If you're on a tight budget, this won't be the best shop for you. But if you want beautiful, high-quality fabrics that will make your knees go weak and you have some extra pennies to spend, don't miss B&J. Some of my favorite garments are made from their fabrics, like my emerald green circle skirt, my stripey dress, blue bow-tied blouse, and my Ceil Chapman sheath dress.

Paron's, 206 West 40th Street near 7th Avenue. This place is small and welcoming and the staff is very friendly. I tend to come here more to browse than look for something particular, and I've always found lovely stuff. The annex next door is all 50% off, and while it tends to be filled with polyester, you can often find stuff from the main room that's marked down. I love their collection of wools, and I bought the fabrics for my Lady Grey and red frock coat at Paron's. Also: they're open til 7:00 pm on weekdays!

A.K. Fabrics, 257 West 39th Street near 8th Avenue. This is my bargain stop. This is a stuffed-to-the-gills little shop that's pretty representative of the Mom and Pop stores of the Garment District. I love their cotton prints, and they're all about $7 a yard or less. They have a ton of cotton solids, like piques and stretch sateens. Basic wools are very affordable. I bought fabric for my navy pique trench and Rooibos dress here.

Mood Fabrics, 225 West 37th Street, 3rd floor. No garment district guide is complete without a mention of Mood. They're huge, often crowded, and a bit overwhelming. I don't shop here as much as I used to, as I've come to prefer my other haunts. Their basic silks are mostly $14 a yard, so I'll come here for charmeuse and crepe. They have a big section of silk and cotton blend prints in the cotton department. Their lace selection doesn't get enough love. It's small, but filled with gems and reasonably priced. I also highly recommend their trim section, especially the laces. Another plus is that Mood is one-stop shopping, selling thread, zippers, and other notions. Another plus: they have a dog! I bought fabric for my red lace dress and Lemon Tree dress here, among many others.


Steinlauf and Stoller, 239 West 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This is THE place for notions. Muslin, interfacing, belting, hair canvas, the best horsehair braid, zippers, drafting supplies, bra cups, shoulder pads, you name it!

SIL Thread, 2757 West 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This place is a little frustrating as it's really hard to find someone to help you and only some of the prices are marked. Still, I come here for a few of my standard supplies, like huge sheets of dressmakers tracing paper, Mettler thread, and rolls of Hug Snug seam binding in every available color. I buy my favorite bra cups here, which are thin with none of that crazy push-up padding. They're in bins toward the back. SIL also carries every Clover product you could possibly want, like my beloved chalk pens and refills.


Daytona Trimming, 251 West 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This is your bargain stop for trims. Elastic, lace, ric rac, piping, etc. It's kind of dingy but you can't beat the prices. There are two really sweet (but rather dirty, it must be said) cats named Ric and Rac who will be your best friends if you give them some chin scratches. Their house-brand thread is really weird and low-quality, so be warned.

The ric rac wall at Daytona Trimming

Pacific Trimming, 281 West 38th Street near 7th Avenue. A step up from Daytona Trims, but I usually try to avoid this place since it always puts me in a bad mood. It's packed and hard to navigate. Still, for well-priced buttons, ribbon, Riri zippers, beads, and pre-packaged piping, this is a good place to know about.

M&J Trims, 1008 Avenue of the Americas (aka 6th Avenue) near 37th Street. Not exactly in the Garment District but still the city's trim mecca. This is my button place when I want something special (read: pricey). Also good for anything crystal or rhinestone and braid trim for Chanel-style jackets.

Well, I think that's it. I hope you find this helpful and that you'll come visit my city's wonderful garment district soon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gertie's Week in Review {4.23.11}

Readers, as I've become more consumed with working on my book, I feel like there's a little less of my daily doings on my blog. As you may have noticed, I've had to switch the focus here to more general information-based posts rather than updates on current projects. And this has all resulted in me feeling like there's a little less of me on the blog. Now, for some of you, this may be a plus! But for me, it feels like I miss chatting with my best sewing buddies. Hence, the idea for "Gertie's Week in Review" was born. Here I'll give you some Doogie Howser-style reflections on daily life. Here we go!

The sewing machine has been quite busy this week. I spent several days working on the pencil skirt that will be in my book. My time at Susan Khalje's couture sewing school really inspired me to make each piece very special, so this one has a silk organza underlining, a hand-picked lapped zipper, and a high waistband with boning. However, the book instructions give you the basics of construction and then there are sidebars on how to up your game if you're ready for the next level.

Mid-week, I had to switch my focus. Have you all seen the Common Thread project that's going on at The Sew Weekly? Mena had many yards of a delicate ivory vintage lace that she sent out to seven sewing bloggers to make a creation in which the lace is used. I'm honored to be finishing up the series next week. There have been many amazing creations from this lace, which you should definitely check out. I spent a lot of time agonizing over what to make, and then it suddenly came to me mid-week. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I can tell you that I draped the pattern myself and it's inspired by a costume worn by one of Hollywood's most beloved starlets—of all time.

Today is a rainy day here in Queens and I'm finishing up that project, and later going to get my hair done. I've decided I want my bangs to be a little more dramatic, in the u-shape that was popularized by non other than Bettie Page. I'm bringing along this picture of Gretchen Mol playing Bettie.

Later on, Jeff and I have a date at a new restaurant in the neighborhood that has a very old-school vibe. Perfect for showing off a new 'do!

In terms of blogging, this week has been a good one. I am really enjoying writing The Daily Dress, perhaps more than any other feature. Which is ironic, because some of you have been quite vocal in hating it! I hope you'll continue to give it a chance. Like anything else, it's a process. I'm working on the voice and style of it, and trying to make it as sewing-focused as possible by adding patterns and pondering construction techniques used on the dresses.

The granny panty discussion was quite spirited and fun, wasn't it? I was pleased that the post got picked up by Jezebel, my favorite ladyblog of all time. I joked to Jeff that I'm going to become known as that granny panties lady from now on. (Kind of like Elizabeth Banks in Zac and Miri Make a Porno. Anyone else see that?)

Well, I suppose that's it for now. I feel much better now that we've had a good chat. What's been going on with you, readers?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Daily Dress: Jason Wu's Raglan Sheath

Why not bookend the work week with another Jason Wu? With, of course, raglan sleeves! This silk sheath dress is a great example of how chic this sleeve style can be. I love the way Wu took advantage of the raglan lines by using a black lace overlay on the sleeves only. It's interesting to note how the style draws attention to the models's shoulders. It almost looks like protective armor! I like the tough-glam effect it gives. If you wanted to create more balance on a figure with narrow shoulders and full hips, this would be a great way to do it.

The lace has black latticework beading.
 Want to make your own version? Hey, you're in luck! Butterick very kindly anticipated your request.

The pattern calls for a contrast fabric in lace or sequins for views A and B. It's a cute little silhouette, right? I'm digging the peplum version. What do you think?

The Style Dictionary: Raglan Sleeves

"The raglan, from which these sleeves get their name, is a loose overcoat named after an English general."—The Complete Book of Sewing, 1949

Is it just me, or are sleeves fascinating? They have to fit such an odd assemblage of curves and angles: the arm is essentially a jointed cylinder that attaches to the torso by way of the shoulder, a body part that creates such an extreme curve that you have to shape fabric deftly around it by way of gathering, easing, and steaming. Raglan sleeves are just another way of maneuvering this territory. They're attached to a bodice by a seam that runs diagonally from the neckline to the underarm, rather than being set in at the shoulder. This pretty dress pattern shows the raglan lines very clearly.

The raglan sleeve usually requires some sort of extra fitting seam at the top to make them curve over the shoulder. In the case of the pattern above, that's taken care of with a dart. Here's the pattern piece:
Instead of a dart, you may also see a raglan sleeve in two pieces, with a seam that runs down the outside of the arm. In which case, the pattern pieces would look like this:
I especially love the raglan-sleeve swing coats of the 50s and 60s. See how this one has a seam on the upper side of the arm rather than a shaping dart?

Raglan sleeves are unusual in the way they're constructed in that everything is kept flat rather than applied in the round, as with a set-in sleeve. Usually, the underarm sleeve seam and the side seams of the garment are left open, until after the diagonal raglan lines have been stitched to the bodice. Then, the underarm sleeve seam and the bodice side seams are stitched in one continuous line.

Raglan sleeves can take all sorts of shapes and styles. On this 40s nightgown, they appear very soft and feminine.
On these coats, they're a little more structured. You can actually buy raglan-shaped shoulder pads if you want some extra shaping in a tailored garment.

Like any other sleeve, raglan sleeves can be long or short, loose or fitted. They're adorable in a cap sleeve like this recent Vogue pattern.

Interestingly, the raglan sleeve shows up in every decade of patterns I researched, never going completely out of style. I would guess this is because it's such a versatile look and can shift from sophisticated to sporty (baseball tees, anyone?).

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