In my last post I introduced Hannah’s Hoodie. I showed you step-by-step how I cut out the fabric and constructed the hood and placket. Today I’m going to show you the easy way to do set-in sleeves.
I learnt to sew using my Mum’s old sewing patterns from the 1960s. They were mostly “Style” brand, a few “Vogue”. But all of them were the old-fashioned style of pattern, they contained a strict cutting layout according to the width of your fabric (and with or without nap), and step-by-step line drawings showing you how to complete the garment, usually in the most difficult way possible. I still love those patterns, and still have a lot of them (although they wouldn’t fit me now – they were all single size, no multi-size patterns back then!). I used to sew set-in sleeves the hard way, I didn’t know that there was any other way, and, as raglan sleeves didn’t seem to be in fashion, it never occurred to me that there might be an easier way.
I used to stich the shoulder seams, and then the side seams and insert the pre-sewn sleeve (with easing/gathering stitches over the shoulder) into the opening, use about 1000 pins, prick my fingers all over with those pins and sew it in the machine quite blindly, hoping it worked the first time, because it was really fiddly to have to fix up any mistakes.
It wasn’t until I started to sew Ottobre patterns that I realised there was an easier way to do it. A really easy way to do it. So here it is:
Preparing the Sleeves
As from my previous post, I have my bodice, stitched at the shoulders, with hood attached and placket finished. The next step is to prepare the sleeves.
Firstly, I attached the sleeve cuffs, as they described, with right sides facing (just the sleeves really because the ribbing doesn’t have a right or wrong side) stretching the ribbing as I sewed. I actually used the stretch straight stitch on my machine.
I’m going to diverge from Ottobre Magazines instructions briefly here, for the previous hoodie, Mathilda’s Hoodie, I followed their instructions, and I ended up with a bulky and not-so-neat seam ending at the cuff. I always do when I do it the way that they suggest there.
So instead, next, I spread out my bodice so that it was sideways with the right sides, both back and front, facing up. I pinned the sleeve in place with the sleeve facing down, right sides together, matching shoulder seams with marked notches.
Then, stitch that seam. Because this is fleece, it won’t fray and remains quite neat, so I didn’t overlock the edges at all, they are neater and less bulky when left as they are, trimmed if required.
And, repeat those two steps for the other side.
Next, fold the whole bodice wrong side out and pin, from the sleeve cuffs, all in one long line, all the way down to the hem. Take extra care to match up seam lines at the cuffs and where the sleeve joins the bodice (especially as I have a two-toned dress – the joins will be quite noticable if they are not matched very closely). I also folded the seam allowances in position and pinned these in place so that they would stay put while stitching. I just used the regular straight stitch for this. I had to take two pictures of it, because it is quite a long seam.
And stitch it.
Next, with the dress still inside out, fold the cuff towards the wrong side and pin with the raw edge just enough over the seam so that it will be caught in the stitching that I’m going to do in the next step. Pin it from the right side of the fabric. It should look something like this:
The top is the right side out, the lower sleeve is the view from the inside where the raw edge of the ribbing covers the seam – the seam is folded downwards, towards the cuff.
Next, with the sleeves still inside out, and being careful not to poke yourself with the pins, stitch it from the right side using a decorative stretch stitch. I used the same stitch that I used to finish the centre seam on the hood – number 20, which looks a bit like a flatlock stitch. Start your stitching at the seam, because it will be on the inside of the arm in case it is not completely straight, or if you can see where you started and finished.
Again, the top sleeve in the above picture is the right side out, while the lower sleeve shows how the raw edge was captured by the stitching on the inside. Nice and neat, and no messy seam ends at the cuff!
I used the same flatlock stitch again for the hem, which works really well, because this is a slightly curved hem, and there’s less bulk, more stretch and it just looks neater.
I used my KAM snaps and pliers again.
For this hoodie, I used three sets of grey, star shaped snaps. I purchased these form China via eBay. They are really cute, and easy to apply.
Using my pattern piece, I poked holes through the placement markings for the snaps, and put small dots onto the fabric using one of those fabric markers where the ink gradually fades away (really handy in case you accidentally put a mark in the wrong place).
Then, I applied the snaps, that easy.
And that’s it. Finished. Did you even notice when I’d finished sewing in the sleeves? And that they are set-in sleeves, not raglan sleeves? Here are some more pictures of the finished dress on my mannequin:
The mannequin is a little bit smaller than the girl that this hoodie isf or, so the sleeves look a little bit too long.
I hope you enjoyed this one. Thanks for reading!