Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making the Sleeves

I'm going to break down assembling and setting the sleeves and then adding the sleeve heads and shoulder pads into separate posts.  This will avoid a mega-post and make it easier for you guys to find the information you need in the post list on the Blazer Sew-Along page.

So today's task is pretty easy.  If you haven't marked your sleeve hem line and added interfacing yet, do that now.  I also like to press back the hem allowance lightly while the sleeve is still flat, to make things easier once it's sewn together.

This is the third version of M6172 I've made in cotton.  On my previous two, I noticed that there was so much excess ease in the sleeve head that I got tiny gathers when I set my sleeves in.  It's interesting to note that I didn't have this problem with either of my wool versions - goes to show how malleable wool fabric is.

This time I decided to address the excess ease.  I measured the seam line of my sleeve head against the seam line of my armscye and found a whopping 2.25" ease! Recommended ease for a fitted jacket is usually 1 - 1.5".  Because this was my first time removing ease, I decided to be cautious and removed only 3/4".  I did this by bending my measuring tape at my new length around the sleeve head.  I noted that the new curve was about 1/4" below the original seam line, so I marked that point. Then, with my armhole curve ruler, I drew a new curve just from the small dots to the shoulder point.  After I had determined my new seam line, I added back the 5/8" seam allowance.  Here's how my new pattern looked on top of the sleeve which I'd already cut with the original piece:

I trimmed the sleeve pieces to match the new curve, then sewed my 2 lines of gathering stitches on the sleeve head.  The pattern instructions say to sew the gathering stitches between the small dots once the sleeve is sewn together completely, but I find it easier to do this flat, and I also find that I get a smoother sleeve insertion when I take my gathering stitches down below the dots by 1" - 1.5".

Once the gathering stitches are in, go ahead and sew the second sleeve seam, then take the sleeve to the ironing board and press this seam open.  I do this on the sleeve board, but a seam roll will work as well.

Now we're going to set some ease into the sleeve before sewing it into the jacket. Pull up the gathering stitches until they look about right to fit the armhole.  It doesn't have to be exact at this point.  Place the sleeve head on the top of a ham and give it a good steam, like so:

Let the fabric cool off before removing it from the ham.

Then press up the entire hem allowance.   If you pressed this while the sleeve was still flat, it should be easy to just fold this into place on the completed sleeve, but do check to make sure it's even all around.

Finally, you will save yourself a lot of frustration if you go ahead and hem your sleeves now, before attaching them to the jacket!  Lightly catch stitch the hem in place.  Don't pull the stitches tight - you do want the hem to be able to have a bit of movement.

And that's it!  Next post, we'll set these babies in :-)


  1. I'm really enjoying your posts. It's been a while since I made a tailored jacket, and have never made one for myself! But I'm itching to make one for me after following along here.

    1. Thank you so much for that feedback! Greatly appreciated :-)

  2. I really wanted to make a cotton khaki blazer this fall, but I cut a bunch of projects a while ago and I've still barely sewn any of that, so I might have to wait until spring. But I'm really enjoying these posts, and I love the advice to shape the sleeve head before attempting to set it in. I've never done that, but it seems like such a great idea!

    1. Thanks, Gina! Shaping the sleeve head beforehand is a newer technique for me too, learned from one of the Craftsy classes. I've been very happy with how it works.


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