July 5, 2012

2-in-1 Sew-Along: 3/4 Sleeve Construction

I'm really enjoying all of the sleeve options for this dress, but this one is my favorite. I'm a sucker for notched details and I do love a good 3/4 length sleeve. This sleeve option has a deep hem with a notch and if you've never seen or sewn a notch before, this might look a little wacky on the pattern. So let's make some sense of it.

You'll need to mark the notch stitching lines from the pattern piece. I use pins and chalk to do this. I place pins in the notch points, lift up the pattern slightly and mark dots where the pins are. Then I take the pattern piece off and connect the dots with chalk lines.

Before we stitch the notch, we need to stabilize the notch point. Place a small square of stay tape or fusible knit tricot interfacing at the notch point. You may need to redraw your chalk lines a bit.

To stitch the notch, with right sides together, turn up the hem and connect your notch points. Use a short stitch length and when you come to the end of the notch, stitch 2 - 3 stitches that are parallel to the hem, then turn and stitch the other leg of the notch. Do this instead of just turning abruptly at the notch - it will make the notch point stronger and less likely to unravel and the notch will be cleaner looking too.

Cut into the notch and clip close to the notch point. Now, with a point turner, turn your notch legs right side out. Troubleshooting: If there is fabric bunching at the notch point, you'll need to clip closer to the notch point from the inside. If your notch ends are not as sharp as you would like, grab a threaded hand needle. Stitch through the ends with the needle, bring the thread through and grab both ends of the thread and gently pull. Press the notch into place.

Stitch the underarm seam closed. Finish this seam and press.

Fold up your hem. Turn the hem edge under 1/4" - 1/2", pin in place and stitch. If desired, you could instead hand stitch the hem in place as well. Give this a thorough press.

Attach the sleeve to the bodice. If needed, make some ease stitches. I don't use ease stitches much anymore and instead utilize pins. A lot of pins. Then I stitch the sleeve to the bodice with the bodice side up in my machine bed, allowing the feed dogs to feed the sleeve (the bigger seam allowance) through faster than the bodice side. Additionally, while my right hand helps feed the fabric through the machine, my left hand is in between the bodice and sleeve layers, pulling on the sleeve gently to prevent puckers as everything moves on through. It's a technique that I learned from Janet Pray in her Sew Better, Sew Faster Craftsy class and it's one that I have found to work quite well. I get a nice sleeve insertion nearly every time.

From here, seam finish the sleeve seam and press in place.

You're ready for the skirt! Woot!

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