Sleeve Pattern and Flight Jacket in MD

Jacket Inspiration Image
Jacket Inspiration Image


Download the Marvelous Designer project file for the Flight Jacket.

Sleeve Pattern & Flight Jacket Script (Video Time)

I was working on a video about sleeves and one of my great YouTube visitors, Sayuri Kim, sent me a message asking if I could a tutorial on a flight jacket. She provided a link to the Alpha Industrials Catalog. The timing couldn't have been better, because this jacket has a very interesting characteristic. See the sleeves? These are two piece sleeves and they are somewhat rare. So we are going to cover sleeve logic and make this jacket, too.

Sleeve Concepts (01:13)

There are some important concepts that we should cover before we begin manipulating a sleeve pattern. The whole purpose of a sleeve is to provide an excellent fit without limiting the range of motion. This is always a challenge. Fitting a sleeve is difficult and I'll create a separate video in the future for those of you who are drafting sleeves in the real world.

Let's take a look at this simple image. You'll see that our arms are naturally bent, they don't hang down completely vertical. When you take measurements for patterns, you'll want to measure with the arm in it's natural state, like this.

Since the arm is bent, the back of the arm is actually longer than the front. That's why a well drafted sleeve has a dart in the back. It's a control point no different than a bust dart. It will shape the sleeve cylinder to fit a relaxed arm.

The other difficult part of the sleeve is the sleeve cap. We need to provide excess fabric that can curve up and over the shoulder tip and attached to the bodice. The trick is providing enough fabric so that it doesn't bind, but not so much that we end up with unintentional gathers at the seam where they connect.

Sleeve Pattern Draft (02:27)

Here's an actual sleeve draft using QCAD. This was generated using the add-on that I'm making for all of you. It's almost done, so hang in there.

As a side note, QCAD outputs to SVG, so I was able to bring this in to Illustrator to mark up. That's a very handy feature that you may use yourself when creating virtual fabric or illustrations.

You can see there are green notation lines indicating where the sleeve will lay on the arm. The Arm Front line will end at the thumb and the Arm Back will end at the little finger.

The long curve at the top is where it joins to the bodice. This is referred to as the sleeve cap. This draft is based on my measurements and you'll notice that this cap is very tall. I can't buy any type of top that fits me correctly for this reason. The measurement from my shoulder tip to my armpit is longer than standard clothing permits. I have to buy tops that are too big to have enough room to fit my arm where it attaches to my body.

Sleeves are something that most of us take for granted and don't even think about, but they make a big difference in not only how the garment looks, but also how comfortable it is. Trust me when I say that having a sleeve binding all day can be a major source of annoyance.

You'll see the sleeve seam is marked. These two sides are equal in distance and are sewn to each other, after the elbow dart is sewn.

Historical Sleeves (04:21)

For those of you interested in historical garments, the sleeve seam was often not under the arm. Sometimes it was in the Arm Front position to provide a tighter fit through the bicep. Also, sleeves were made in two pieces with the seam lines in the Arm Front and Arm Back guideline position.

One Piece with Elbow Control (04:45)

Here is the one piece sleeve with the elbow dart. This is a standard sleeve modeled by tracing the sleeve pattern generated by QCAD. You'll see that the sleeve doesn't fit real well in the T-Pose. That is how it should be. When she drops her arms, it will fit better.

Watch the sleeve as it deforms during this animation. You can see that the elbow dart looks very natural and fits her arm.

One Piece Sleeve with Little Finger Control (05:29)

Another common sleeve element is a fabric split at the wrist without the elbow dart. This is created from the original sleeve draft. We need to move the elbow dart control to the wrist.

Here is the sleeve in Marvelous Designer. If you look at the back of the arm, you'll see that we didn't lose the shape of the sleeve we still have excess fabric here at the elbow. When you manipulate a pattern properly, you only shift the control. You don't lose any of your shaping.

This is a bit boring, so let's make some more changes. We can extend the fabric out to the sides at the wrist, leave a little slot unsewn and place a button here to close it. Here's how that looks over in MD.

The shape of the sleeve has been maintained, we've only extended the wrist fabric out.

One Piece Straight Sleeve (08:21)

The most common sleeve that you will find is the one piece straight sleeve. It has no shaping whatsoever. These were developed when mass production of clothing became popular. This sleeve is cheaper to make and without shaping, fits more people. A darted sleeve has to be fitted well, or it looks very bad.

To create the straight sleeve, you actually start off with the original draft and make adjustments. This sleeve is so common, that I anticipated many of you wanting to use it. To make it easier on you, I've created this draft for you.

I'll give you a quick peak at the QCAD plug-in that you will soon have. I've already got a file that contains the female MD avatar measurements. To make the sleeve I simply select it off the Fearless menu.

You'll notice that we have a Notation layer in QCAD. If I turn this on, you'll see the Arm Front and Arm Back guides appear. You'll also notice that you have new side seams and a bottom curve. This is the modification for a straight sleeve.

You'll see at the wrist that there is a definite curve. You'll notice that this follows the logic of the sleeve being shorter in the front than the back. This is how a straight sleeve is drafted properly. I'm sure many of you know that manufacturers don't bother with this. They just cut it straight across.

If you decide that you would rather have that straight line, just create a new line at the bottom. Then you can delete the other curve or just hide it.

Here's the straight sleeve with the curve removed from the wrist. The difference is subtle and you'll just need to decide which is the most appropriate for your garment.

Two Piece Sleeve (10:45)

The last sleeve type we'll cover is the two piece sleeve. There are two seam lines and they run down the front and down the back.

I started with my QCAD drafts and made a few modifications in MD. Let's look at the sleeves first.

This is the same two piece pattern that you saw before, but I've pulled it out wider to allow more room for puffing.

Pressure Setting in the Property Editor

To achieve this puffing effect there are several things that I did. First, if we select one of the patterns you'll see we have a Pressure setting in the Property Editor. The easiest way to understand this is to think about the air between the avatar and a piece of fabric. We can pressurize that air in two ways. If we set the pressure higher it pushes harder away from the avatar. If you want it really puffy, raise that Pressure setting.

In some cases, you may want to create pressure in the opposite direction. In that case, you would enter a negative pressure. I'll show you that here in a little bit.

You'll see that I have the Pressure set at 17 for the sleeves. The other thing that I did was add an elastic property to the seam line. I'll select the seam line and you can see in the Property Editor that I have Elastic turned on with a Strength of 13 and a Ratio of 88. This helped to create the gathering effect that we saw in the original jacket.

Fold Strength and Angle

You'll notice that the seam is very well defined between the two pieces. If we select the sewn seam line pair, you'll se that I have changed the settings. I increased the Fold Strength to 72 and the fold angle to 311. This made the seam divot, which makes it much more pronounced. It really shows off the puffing.

Layer Cloning

We'll move on to the body of the jacket next. When I was describing Pressure earlier, I said you could use this between two pieces of fabric. That's what I've done with the body. There are copies of the fronts and the back.

This was done with Layer Cloning. If you select a pattern piece by right clicking, you'll see the Layer Clone option. MD makes a perfect copy of the pattern piece and automatically sews them together.

Using the Edit Sewing tool and selecting the clone shows a seam line extending all the way around the clone. The other side of the pair goes all the way around the original.

The one thing you need to watch out for is the layer placement of the clone. MD put the clone on top of my original. When I did this the first time, I had already attached the front pocket to my original front. When I went over to animate the jacket, the pocket disappeared. During animation it pulled the pocket all the way through the clone in front and you could no longer see it. If you are going to use Layer Cloning, do it early in your project before you add details and make sure to put them on the cloned layer.

Take a look at the settings on the cloned bodice. The Pressure is set to 2, which means it is pushing away from the avatar. If we select the original bodice, which is on the bottom now, the Pressure is set to -3. This pushes the bottom layer toward the avatar, not away from it. The combination of pressure settings creates a pillow effect, which makes it look like there is filling in the jacket.

By select the seam line pair between the front and back at the side seam, you can see that I've set the Fold Strength to 72 and the Fold Angle to 311, just line the sleeves. That gives us that nice definition.

The pockets are also cloned, to give them more depth. I didn't apply any Pressure between the layers on the pockets, because I didn't feel it was necessary. If you've ever made pockets, you know that they have a tendency to disappear once they are sewn on. If you use Layer Cloning, you can create more dimension.

Finishing Touches

Although the original jacket has snaps on the pockets, I didn't bother with them. I just sewed down the top and edges. MD doesn't do the best job with snaps and buttons and this is better handled when adding textures outside of MD, in my opinion. That's why you don't see any zippers, either.

We have ribbing applied at the collar, cuffs and waistband. I had a ribbing texture that I created from a photograph and it works really well here.

The original jacket has a pocket on the sleeve. I created a gusseted pocket using darts on my version. At this point it's really no more than an abstract shape here on the arm. It really needs some texturizing to make it more authentic.

Finally, let's look at the fabric on the jacket. I've added a Shininess property of 4 and selected a corresponding color. This makes the jacket appear to be made of nylon, like the original.

Ignore the pants in this project. They were just thrown on so she wasn't naked and they aren't all that great.

Let's watch the walk animation to see how the jacket deforms. You'll notice that it appears to be filled with air and it's a little bit bouncy. That's not very realistic. As you know, a filled jacket has mass that holds it down and it doesn't bounce. Other than that, I think the jacket conforms nicely and looks pretty good.


In summary, we've covered the various types of sleeve drafts and looked at them being simulated in MD. You learned that sleeves can be a variety of shapes and these are just starting points. You can manipulate all of these basic drafts and make stylish and original designs from them. I'll show you some of the possibilities in another video.

You've learned about the Pressure setting in MD and how to use the Layer Cloning feature to create puffing. Based on these basics, you should be able to create some very realistic garments including down filled vests and jackets.



marvelous designermd project files