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Setting in sleeves. How do you do it?

To be honest I have always had difficulty setting in sleeves. Often I catch the garment in the seam, and I always seem to have some little puckers in the sleeve head no matter how hard I try. The result is much frustration and lots of unpicking!

The method I've always used, involves sewing two rows of long ease stitching and pulling up to fit, then trying to smooth out the gathers to fit, and then pinning and machining sleeve side up.

Having failed to set the sleeve in successfully on my latest make, the Emery dress despite the following the excellent instructions on Christine Haynes' sewalong, I thought I'd see if there were any other methods that might work better for me.

Anyway after a quick Internet search. I found this post on Craftsy for a method that involves pinning only! I won't go into too much detail as the blog post on Craftsy is really thorough, but I thought it was worth sharing. 

The key thing to learn from this is that strategic pinning can replace using ease stitches.  The pins should be placed so that they straddle the stitching channel. It also helps to hand baste the sleeve first.  While this may seem extra work, if you are going to have to spend time unpicking your sleeve when it goes wrong, it seems like time well spent to me. Stitching the other way up, with the garment facing upwards, rather than the sleeve as normally advised, allows the feed dogs to help ease the sleeve into place.

One extra thing that I have decided to do from now in is mark the stitching line in with chalk pencil as I don't think previously that my stitching line was very accurate.

The basics steps are as follows

1.Stitching line marked with chalk pencil

Setting in sleeves - mark stitching line

2. Key points pinned first - notches, underarm seam, ease points and shoulder point

Setting in sleeves -  Key points pinned first - notches, underarm seam, ease points and shoulder point

3. Then use lots of pins to ease the sleeve head in

Setting in sleeves - use lots of pins to ease the sleeve head in

4. The seam can then hand-basted and pins can be removed

Setting in sleeves - seam hand-basted and pins can be removed

5. Finally the seam is machine sewn with the garment facing, using the feed dogs to help ease the sleeve in. 
Setting in sleeves - seam is machine sewn with the garment facing, using the feed dogs to help ease the sleeve in.

If you look closely you can see that I had to unpick the sleeve twice before trying this method!

6. The result is a sleeve that are set in properly with no little puckers or gathers. 

Setting in sleeves -sleeves set in properly with no little puckers or gathers.

The good news my Emery dress is nearly complete and I will have a finished make to share with you soon.

Have you tried this method? I am converted. 

Catherine x


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