Armhole, shoulder cap and french curve

Hi. When drafting a pattern in Valentina, how do you get the shape of the arm hole and shoulder cap correct? There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated ‘French Curve’ tool. The instructions suggest using the simple curve tool, but I’m not sure how they’re obtaining the control point parameters they’re using - they seem to be pulled ex recto which isn’t giving me good result when I try to assemble the paper pattern together and the textbook I’ve found says to use a french curve.

Tarinaky, what exactly don’t you like about your result? It would help if you posted a picture. You can modify a curve any way you like using control points as described in the manual: UserManual:Tools:Curves - Seamly2D A “French” curve is simply a tool for drawing curves on paper and it comes in different shapes. It’s not a special curve described by a dedicated formula.

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I need to make sure the length of the sleeve cap curve is the same length as the arm hole’s curve (plus some ease), otherwise it just won’t fit together, and I’m pretty sure the shape of the two curves have to reciprocate somehow but I don’t understand what the relationship between the two curves needs to be.

You can check armhole and sleeve cap length directly in Valentina, use something like (sum of sleeve cap curves)-(sum of armhole curves). You can put this formula in increments table Usually, it should be 0-2 cm, depending on pattern type

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Tarinaky, I have a feeling that you are new to patternmaking and have a misconception about how sleeve caps work in general.

  1. @Krolich made a great comment above - indeed you can easily compare the length of armhole curves and sleevecap curves in Valentina.
  2. How exactly the sleeve cap is drafted in relation to the armhole is determined based on the directions of your patternmaking system (there are many). Valentina is a great pattern drafting tool, but it doesn’t teach you how to draft.
  3. Looking at the photo it seems you are under the impression that when you lay the bodice and sleeve pieces flat they should somehow match like puzzle pieces. This is not so. To understand the general relationship between the armhole and the sleeve cap you can do this easy exercise:
  • make two paper cylinders, the bigger one representing the bodice and the smaller representing the sleeve.
  • tape them at an angle to each other.
  • trace the armhole on the big cylinder.
  • cut each of the cylinders flat as if they are a garment pattern.
  • cut out the armhole on the big cylinder.
  • observe how the curves of the sleeve piece and the armhole look very different and yet match in length. Good luch with your draft!

You’re right. I’m trying to learn patternmaking, and I am really bad at it.

I understand it won’t fit together while flat, which is why I printed it out and tried to fit them together like puzzle pieces in 3 dimensions - which should work.

My textual reference is Patternmaking for Fashion Design 5th edition, but it just says “Use the French curve to shape the capline by touching…” which isn’t terribly helpful. Especially if there’s not just /one/ french curve…

I don’t have any more money to spend buying books on this :frowning:

Tarinaky, all I can say is that the general look of curves in your pattern resembles that of most basic bodice drafts. I see no cause for alarm at this point. But if you are confident this does not look right, it’s your call. I am not familiar with the method Armstrong uses in her book and can not attest to its accuracy or intended outcome. Pattrenmaking is hard. It may take many fittings and twitches to the draft to get a good result, even for an experienced patternmaker. This has nothing to do with the software. Good software can speed up these iterations and provide precision when used correctly, it does not draft or make design decisions for you. On this forum we discuss using the software, learning patternmaking is beyond its scope.


I understand, but when I asked on a pattern making forum, they told me to ask here.

The most helpful feature in terms of drafting armholes and sleeve caps in Valentina, in my opinion at least, is what Krolich suggested above: measuring the overall length of your sleeve cap curves and armhole curves and make sure they are either equal or the length of sleeve cap curves is slightly larger. Make sure you do that.

There are many sites on the internet that give the instructions to create patterns in point form. I’m also learning to make patterns and I feel that one must create many to remember which measurement goes where, so I’ve been going through a number of different systems to see how they differ, etc. This week, I’ve been doing the bodice, sleeve and skirt on this one:

I did find that their sleeve tutorial was very easy.

Also… Since one normally makes up a garment using fabric, one stitches in ease stitches around the sleeve cap which can hide any minor discrepancies in the lengths - hence the 0 - 2cm allowed difference.

Hi Tarinaky, I am also new at Valentina, but I have many years in flat pattern drafting and sewing. Looking at your paper patterns it looks good and should fit together, your next step is to learn how to set the sleeves. in general, the sleeve pattern is always larger that the armhole ( for me is between 1-1.25") once you sew them together most of your ease should be about 2- 2.5" on either side of your shoulder seam ( a total of 4-5"). My suggestion is that try your pattern out on cheap muslin, paper doesn’t ease well. Hope this help.


here is the video I found may help.

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Am I correct to say there is no way to fix the length of a curve as equal to the length of another curve? I am also pretty new to pattern making and have Valentina since last week only. I have just completed my first pattern of trousers using Muellers and Sohn method and this lovely program and the way I matched the side lengths of front and back is by simple comparing of the length of the curves in the measurements table until they had correct form and matched each other.

You could add up the length of the curve at the armhole and work it in the same way that you did for the pants to get them equal lengths.