PART 16: SETTING THE SLEEVES
The concept of a set-in sleeve is putting a tube (the sleeve) into a hole (the armscye) but the sleeve is larger than the armscye, so it must be "eased" into the hole. This is so your arm can move around at the shoulder. A set-in sleeve is not the same as a gathered sleeve though. A gathered sleeve has intentional puckers around the top of the shoulder, where a set-in sleeve should be a smooth seam all the way around. Ready to do it? Here we go!
I prefer to press the hem of my sleeve before sewing the side seam, as it's easier to do it now when it's flat. Press up, then repeat. Don't sew it though! Simply press as if you were to set it, then move onto the next step.
Now that the them is pressed, unfold it and pin the side seam, matching notches.
Sew the side seam at the 5/8" seam allowance, sewing over the folds from the first step. Finish the seam as you wish.
Press the seam, pressing over the hem folds as if they aren't there.
Refold the hem and repress around the side seam.
Sew the sleeve hem, close to the fold and press.
To ease the sleeve into the dress, we need to sew baste stitches across the top of the cap of the sleeve. Start at one side notch, at the 3/8" seam allowance, and sew to the other side notch. Repeat at the 3/4" seam allowance. Make sure to leave long threads at the start and end of the baste stitches.
With right sides together, fit the sleeve into the opening. Note that you are pinning to both the bodice and lining. Line up and pin at the three notches and side seam. Pin the un-basted area from the side seam to the side notches.
Pull on the baste threads to tighten the area between the notches to ease the sleeve to fit into the space allowed. You will form little "gathers" but remember that this sleeve is not a gathered sleeve. Do your best to even out all the puckers and focus on keeping the stitch line smooth. It's fine if there are gathers on either side of the stitch line.
Once you are happy with your easing, pin the sleeve in place. Repeat on the other side of the sleeve.
Starting at the side seam, sew the sleeve to the bodice at the 5/8" seam allowance.
When you reach the eased section, keep the stitch line smooth, keeping all puckers and gathers to either side.
After the sleeve is sewn on, finish the sleeve as desired. I like to trim my seam allowance in half, then finish with a 3-step zigzag, as pictured above and below.
After you've finished the seam allowance, press it toward the sleeve. I find this is easiest with a pressing ham taking the place of my arm and shoulder so I can press around the curve. And that's it! See... that wasn't so hard!
See you here tomorrow to discuss how to finish the dress without sleeves!
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