Late Medieval Fashion Redressed

Drafting a grande assiette-style upper sleeve from measurements

The grande assiette is not a simple tailoring design. While its complexity is covered elsewhere on this site, here I want to share with you the lovely way that basic math can help you draft just about any complex 3-D shape from fabric pieces including the highly-pieced upper sleeve of the pourpoint of Charles de Blois. The link below opens a Microsoft Word document (.docx format) containing a 2-page worksheet showing you how to draft a customized grande assiette sleeve. I recommend you print it out for reference and for recording your measurements.

You will need to take 5 basic measurements and from those, derive 4 more. Then you will need to draw out the shapes according to the diagrams provided, using the measurements. When finished, you should have a reasonably well-fitting pattern for the upper sleeve. This is the hardest part of the whole garment, so if you can do some basic measurements, math, and drawing with straight edges and a compass (or my favorite, a pencil on a string), you can do this. Or, you can say “screw that!” and buy my pattern instead.

Grande Assiette Drafting Worksheet, or: Drafting a sleeve with your good friend, Math!

10 thoughts on “Drafting a grande assiette-style upper sleeve from measurements”

  1. I purchased your pattern a few months ago (and am very happy with it!) but I am grateful to have the tutorial as well! Thank you so much for sharing your work!

    1. I will PDF this Word document and make it available. I’m able to open it in Word 2007 without a problem though. Sorry you are having trouble.

  2. Hi there. Ii have a question. the “Armhole circumference”–is that the circumference of the actual large circle circumference of the sleeve, or the physical circumference of my armscye?

    Also, the “length from top of armhole to elbow” measurement: If the sleeve was going to come in 3 inches from the point of my shoulder toward my neck, would this measurement be 3 + length from shoulder point to elbow?


    1. Hi Drea, good questions! The “armhole” in this case is the large circle circumference. You choose how large an inset you want and measure that with a tape on your body (or have someone else do it, if you want a more exact measurement). The “length from the top of the armhole to elbow” is indeed what you describe. I would make a mark where the top of your giant armhole will sit on your shoulder and then run the tape measure from that point over the top of your shoulder and down the side of your arm when your arm is down by your side.

    1. Glad you like the write-up! It’s not strictly necessary to make the back godets in two pieces, but it does provide a little more subtle stretch for those upper back/shoulder muscles to move around within. It also creates a more symmetrical sleeve piece to sew together when it’s all assembled and you’re ready to sew the long seam that goes down the back of the arm.

      1. Is the front gore always 90° even if that would make the back gores exceedingly narrow? Also, would there ever be a reason to use an armpit gore more than 2″ across?

        1. 1. There’s no hard-and-fast rule that it MUST be 90 degrees; but that shape works for most chests, and then it’s easier to adjust the back-godets alone. (I refer to these as godets now, since gores are more strictly full-length panels that travel the length of the torso and legs too, if a long garment,) If the narrowness required for the back-godets to fit that part of the body is not aesthetically pleasing, I would say it’s fine to adjust the front gore too, once you have a mock-up made and you perform that next level of fitting directly on the body.
          2. The armpit godet can be any width that works, based on the body this is being fit onto. You’re ultimately accommodating a complex 3-D shape, so each godet can be adjusted accordingly to fit around that body part.

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