Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reader's Pick Sew-Along: Sleeves

We're in the home stretch! Just the sleeves and the finishing touches...then we are done! If you're following our Flickr page, you can see the progress that is being made by many of our participants. Click here to see what's going over there. We even have two ladies that have been sewing their dresses together! What a great thing to do with your sewing friends!

Today's step focuses on the sleeves. This pattern has two options: short sleeves and 3/4 length sleeves with a tab. Sewing the sleeves to the dress is a pretty straight forward process, but I will share a trick that I learned in setting the sleeves. I used the 3/4 length sleeves with a tab, so that is what I will focus on.   Also, I usually have to grade my sleeves to fit to my liking, so I will share that information with you too.

We won't be creating your regular 3/4 length sleeve with this dress...there is a tab! Sew together the tab like the directions state. Sew a buttonhole as directed. I decided not to include buttonhole directions in this step because every sewing machine does it a little differently. I have a Bernina and I love that it has a memory function to save the size of the buttonhole so each one can be the same. No guessing on my part! 

I never sewed a buttonhole onto a knit before. This was somewhat challenging. The stitches creating the buttonhole were not as close as I would have liked. You can see that in the photo below. (See the white sticking out through the stitches!) Plus the top-stitching around the tab didn't get as nice as I would have liked, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.


And of course because I'm the "figure it out as I go" type, I've now looked up how to eliminate these problems! The Last Stitch has a great tutorial on sewing buttonholes on knits. Johanna suggests using interfacing to stabilize both sides of where you are putting a buttonhole. Because we already interfaced one side of the tab, I would recommend cutting a small piece of the same interfacing you used for the tab and fuse it on both sides of where the buttonhole will be going. If your fabric is heavier than an ITY knit, interfacing on one side of your tab should be fine.  If you have a suggestion, please share!

Now it's time to sew the tab on to the sleeve. Hopefully you marked the tab placement on your sleeve! When the sleeve is finished, the tab will cleverly gather up your sleeve for a really nice RTW touch!



I don't know about you, but I find that most patterns make their sleeves huge. Of course there are so many shapes and sizes to accommodate, so if you're more thin armed, this step will work for you. I did not want the sleeve to be baggy, so I measured my arm circumference to alter the sleeves. I measured the circumference of my upper arm and slightly above and below my elbow. 

Upper arm measurement: 12" around


Elbow Measurement: 10" around


I don't want the sleeves to be skin tight, so I pinned about 3/8" more than my measurement. The top of the sleeves, which will connect to the dress, was close to the measure of my arm circumference, so I did not change that, but used that as the starting point for tapering. I marked 10 3/8" near the elbow then, tapered from the top of the sleeves to my markings. 



Trying on the sleeve for size! The purple line shows the 5/8" seamline. The pink line shows the grading done to make the sleeve fit to my liking.  Because this will  end up being a 3/4 length sleeve, I did not measure my wrist to fit the sleeve. You can see in the photo below that it is looser at the wrist. Since it will be bunched up in the tab, I wanted to make sure I had room to move! 



Use a 3" hem on the sleeve, press to get a nice clean fold and you're finished! 



Just attach the sleeves to the bodice and try it on. How does it feel? Share your progress photos on our Flickr page! Or share a photo (link) with us in the comments section.

5 comments:

  1. Just finished them up! I'll post a picture later when I have someone to take one for me. I did the shorter sleeves and my machine just loved trying to stitch up my soft, drape-y rayon jersey with those tiny little sleeves. With some patience, I managed to finish them nicely! Any tips on working with softer fabric like this? I don't know if my tension was just too tight or that the fabric would just fall in between my feed dogs, but my machine liked to eat my fabric occasionally.

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    1. Soft fabrics can be tricky, my machine gets hungry too at times!

      When I'm working with soft knits, or any soft, drapey fabric, I press the hem first. Then I don't have to fiddle around with that. Also, when stitching a seam or hem, I don't start right at the edge of the fabric. I come in about a 1/2" or so stitch forward, then backwards so that the end of the fabric doesn't get eaten up by my sewing machine. Sewing slowly helps keep control of your fabric too. I hope some of those suggestions help! If anyone else has a suggestion, please comment!

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  2. This is really well written. I appreciate the image with the sleeve on and the lines drawn in to show grading. It really helps to see it both on and flat.

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  3. I jumped ahead to done and hemmed my dress. I really need to wear it soon and I am in high gear in the sewing room for spring clothes. Off to sunny Florida next week and nothing from last spring and summer fits. Time to break out more fabrics from my Fabric Mart stash and get going. I visited the store last fall and I have a beautiful cotton that wants to be a sundress. I will try to get a photo of my finished dress for Flickr, been fun.
    Dara

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