Sunday, August 26, 2007

Easing in a Jacket Sleeve

Sorry I don't have any pix of the process, but I think this will be pretty easy. I learned this tip when I made my coat and also it is in Nancy Erickson's book. I have also read it a few other places since then. This looks like a lot of work, but it's really quite easy when you're doing it.

1. First, when you cut out your sleeve, it is best to cut the sleeve cap notches OUTWARD. Trust me on this.

2. Then, sew up your sleeve and forget about doing the rows of basting at the top. The whole thing is that you want to "thicken" the area at the top of the sleeve so that there are no puckers and you don't have a dimpled sleeve cap.

3. Cut two bias strips of fabric the length you will need to go from notch to notch and about 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide. I used self fabric on this jacket and polar fleece on my coat. On some of my lighter weight jackets, I use a strip of linen. Wool crepe is a perfect weight if you have it. Whatever you use, you want something that will stretch and recover.

4. Line up the edge of the strip with the edge of the sleeve cap, start at the notch and sew a few stitches to anchor the strip. Now stretch the strip as much as you can while you sew the strip around the top of the cap to the next notch. Sew exactly on the seam line. I use a slightly larger stitch (a 3 on my machine) to do this. Cut off any tail left over.

5. Take that sleeve to your ironing board and put your ham into the cap. Press your sleeve so that it looks like it will when it's in the jacket. In other words, the top should already be round and smooth now.

6. With your sleeve right side out and the jacket inside out, pin the sleeve into the armhole. If you are using a two piece sleeve, make sure you have the right sleeve in the right armhole or it will swing backward.(ask me how I know!)

7. BASTE the sleeves into the armholes. Sometimes I skip this step and usually end up ripping out part of my sleeve after!! You can baste it in by machine, but it's actually faster to do it by hand. Check the outside of the armscye and make sure there are no tucks or puckers. If so, release them by cutting the basting and fixing that part

8. Try it on and look in the mirror. Does it sit right? Do you have any pulling? If so, fix it now.

9. If everything is good to go, sew in your sleeve. If you are using a loosely woven or stretchy fabric, you will want to sew the seam with either some stay tape, twill tape, seam binding, or lining selvedge. I took a strip of stay tape and cut it in half to make it narrower on this one. Don't cut seam binding in half or it will ravel away. I didn't want the tape have it tighten up the sleeve too much, so I used a narrow zig zag stitch to sew it. This prevents the armscye from stretching out of shape as you wear the jacket. If your fabric is stable or tightly woven, you can skip the stay tape.

10. Check your sleeve again and make sure there are no tucks or puckers.

11. Now, take that baby to the ironing board and put your sleeve over the ham again. Using a press cloth, press all layers of seam allowance and bias strip toward the sleeve. Let it cool before you take it off the ham. I hand catch stitched it on this jacket, but don't on most.

12. Hand Sew a shoulder pad along the shoulder seam allowance only (not along the armscye)before adding your lining. It is important to add the shoulder pad, even if it is a thin one, to support the work you've done and the sleeve.

You should now have a professional looking sleeve!

I'll add pictures the next time I make a jacket. I have several on my to do list.

Oh, here's Gigi Lewis's tip I just found on PR


Maureen said...

My gosh you are good! If there was any money in tailoring or hand-made clothing I would suggest a career change :) And as little as I sew you still manage to make the instructions easy to understand (maybe you should teach!). That jacket is looking quite stunning Nancy, can't wait to see it on...what was it yesterday? 105...I'm thinking maybe by November?

Tany said...

Excellent post Nancy!!

Sarah said...

This is really outstanding! I'm bookmarking this post, since we've got a few jackets in the sewing queue. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your tip! Quick question -- so, you don't trim and finish the sleeve seams when you do this? You just leave them as it?? I'm used to trimming and finishing or serging the seams. Alison

Nancy Winningham said...

Yes! You do finish the seam sleeves in whatever manner you normally would for your fabric. These seams are not finished because the jacket is lined.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Nancy! That brings up one more question... what method do you use to set in the lining sleeve??

Nancy Winningham said...

I pinned the lining sleeve from the underarm to the notches. Then I took a tuck, or pleat, at the top instead of gathering or trying to ease in the fabric. I find this gives a flatter finish and is easier as well.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! I've never read or heard that anywhere, so thanks so much! All of this info makes a lined jacket seem so much more doable to me. :)