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To begin your sleeve, run a line of thread tracing, as shown, along the crosswise grain of the sleeve cap. Easestitch on the right side of the sleeve cap [about 8-10 stitches per inch (3-4 per cm)] just inside the seamline in the seam allowance between markings, as shown. An additional row of easestitching 1/4" (6 mm) from the first row in the seam allowance will give you more control over the fullness and simplify the process of easing (1).
If the sleeve is long or three-quarter length and snug, elbow shaping is needed for comfortable movement, either by easing or using darts. To ease, stitch with large stitches along the seamline on the back edge of the sleeve between markings. Pin the sleeve seam, matching notches and markings; adjust ease (2). Where darts are indicated, stitch and press downward. Match markings; pin and stitch the sleeve seam (3).
With the garment wrong side out, place sleeve in the armhole, right sides together. Pin together at the notches, markings, and underarm seam, being sure to use the stitching line at the underarm for the sleeve when indicated on your pattern (4). Pull the easing threads up until the sleeve fits the armhole; secure thread ends around a pin in a figure-eight fashion (5). Adjust the fullness and pin about every 1/2" (13 mm). If not indicated by markings, be sure to leave one inch (25 mm) of flat area at the shoulder seam where the grain will not permit easing. Baste firmly along the seamline (6).
Now try on the garment. First check the line of thread tracing. If it is not perfectly parallel to the floor, you have an obvious indication that a slight adjustment is in order. If the grainline slants or ripples, you will find a quick referral to Sleeves, page 92, extremely helpful. Then check the length, allowing for the anticipated finish (hem, cuff, etc.) and any biousing in a full sleeve. Finally, be sure that the ease is located where it is needed, adjusting it for your particular upper arm shape and shoulder curve.
After fitting, tie the ease thread ends securely and remove the sleeve from the armhole. Holding the curve of the sleeve cap over a press mitt, shrink the fullness by using a steam iron. Begin by steaming the seam allowance to shape the sleeve cap, being careful not to press beyond the stitches (7).
Hold the sleeve in your hands, and turn in the seam allowance along the ease thread. You should have a smooth rolling sleeve cap without puckers or pulling. If dimples remain on the roll near the searnline, slide fullness along the threads until your problem has been eliminated and steam again. Do not be overly alarmed if your unattached sleeve still retains some puckering, as some fabrics do not respond well to shrinking and may need additional handling when the sleeve is being placed into the armhole for permanent stitching (8).
Before you permanently set in the sleeve, complete the sleeve finish. The separate piece will be easier to rnaneuver than the entire garment. Replace the sleeve in the armhole, pinning and basting it in place. Try it on, checking the shoulder and arm shaping and the sleeve finish.
For a problem sleeve, place the garment on a dress form. Turn in the sleeve seam allowance along ease thread and, from the right side, pin into armhole. Pin and slip-baste in place, working with the sleeve cap until you have a smooth rolling shape (9).
When the sleeve is set in to your satisfaction, start at the underarm and stitch the armhole seam with the sleeve side up, controlling the fullness as you work (10).
titch again in the seam allowance 1/4" (6 mm) from the first row of stitching. To reduce bulk, trim close to this second row. If the garment is unlined, overcast or zigzag the seam allowances to prevent ravelling (11). Never press sleeve cap seam after the sleeve is set in. Simply turn the seam allowances toward the sleeve to give a smooth line to the seam and support to the sleeve cap.
There are a few extreme instances when the sleeve cap seam is-still not perfectly smooth and rounded-such as lightweight or limp fabrics, fabrics which do not ease, certain designs, and certain figure irregularities. These situations can prove difficult and may call for lambswool padding. We must stress that it is not a remedy for a poorly set-in sleeve. For detailed instructions on how to insert sleeve padding, put lining in a sleeve, or set in a two- piece sleeve, refer to the tailoring section, page 432.
| © Ragnar Torfason|
2006 March 28