13 May 2012

Day 1 - How to Sew a Turnback Cuff

I think this post needs a soundtrack. If I could pull it off without embarrassment, I'd have a tough-guy song playing in the background while the camera panned down this week's shirt, section by section. As it is, I'll have to make do with plain graphics.

You start off, and it looks like a pretty average blouse:

Pointy shirt collar? Check.

Buttons and pocket? Check.

Bust and side darts? Check.

... And then you get to these cuffs:

turnback cuffs sketch

Stop right there.
(Oh wait, you'd have to stop there anyway.)

Turnback cuffs fall between French cuffs (which use silk knots and those fancy and mature cuff-link things) and barrel cuffs in terms of classy sleeve finishes. They have really a smooth fold and crisp edges, which I always admire in any garment feature.

(Actually, the edges are so clean and crisp that I had trouble drawing them in the close-up below. I ended up basically tracing over an image from this very useful page on the "Gentleman's Guide to Style." Yes, I have been looking at a lot of men's fashion sites for this shirt.)

turnback cuff sketch

Turnback cuffs occupy that liminal space of stylish-but-not-too-formal since they use a regular pair of buttons to close. But while they might be too eye-catching for the ultra-conservative dresser, I like my clothes to be interesting. And apparently Sean Connery's James Bond was known for wearing them. I'm not sure if that counts as a selling point or the complete opposite.

The idea is that the cuff is extra long and basically folds back on itself, over the button placket section, in a trapezoidal shape. This double-layering allows for all sorts of design detailing. For example, you can use a bright colour for the inside of the cuff. Then, when your cuff is "turned back" you'll have a nice accent on your sleeves, without it looking too blocky, as it would if the entire cuff was in the accent colour.

I'm not sure if I'll be using an accent colour, since the shirt body will already be in a fairly bright, orange-and-white striped Oxford fabric, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how much class these cuffs confer on my blouse!

turnback cuff women's blouse sketch

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