Sewing: my little tips and tricks

  1. staystitch.
  2. guide stitch before folding and pressing.
  3. use guiding device on your machine (and cut precisely).
  4. use a small iron for pressing.
  5. lots of pins for a set in sleeve.
  6. sleeve cap fits the armhole.
  7. use a tailor’s ham for armhole pressing. Or fold some tea towels.
  8. use fusing interfacing when you’ve nicked the fabric.

Right after cutting your front and back panel: stay stitch the arm holes and neck line.
Run the machine off the fabric. Smooth the thread afterwards so the fabric and the thread are relaxed. The staystitching is right on the outside of the intended sewing line.
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Below you see the inside of my armhole: stay stitching on the seam allowance, seam on the seam line. If I want to I can nudge the seaming allowance, straight through the staystitching. It has done its job of preventing the armhole to sag before the sleeve was attached.
sleeve sleevecap fit shirt arm hole

Sew a guiding stitch line before folding over a side and pressing it. Good for hems. Good for button band plackets. Found a good video tutorial by Pam Howard here.

Cut the fabric precisely and use a guiding device on your machine. This is mine. Antique and precise:

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My seam ripper shows how precisely my fabric was cut. The two pieces lie exactly against each other with their edges.

 A small iron for pressing is bliss. This one is marketed to children and people with mental challenges (?). It’s perfect for me.

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As you can see I don’t have my ironing table out, I just work on the wooden table that’s in our front living room, with only a towel for protection. The wood is coated and can stand some heat. If I had to drag out the ironing table every time I wanted to sew I’d think of reasons to procrastinate.

If you don’t like working with heavy things, don’t work with heavy things.

Also: my iron is plugged into an electric plug in that has an on/off switch. Easier to switch than my iron, which you have to disconnect to power it down. The plug of the iron is a bit of a hassle to disconnect. Make life easy.

Use plenty of pins when pinning the sleeve cap to the armhole. Slowly sew across them, letting the needle find its own way.
sleeve sleevecap fit shirt arm hole
Best results are when the sleeve cap is as long as the armhole. There’s little reason to try and cram in extra ease into an armhole that’s not big enough. Better is a narrow fitting armhole and a sleeve cap to match.

Use a tailor’s ham for pressing. Two rolled up tea towels will do too. But a tailor’s ham is on my wishlist.
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Aargh! snipped into the fashion fabric! A little V-shaped cut.
Glue some fusing to the back. And the front. Cut the edges irregular. If it is too obvious just embroider around it in a strong colour and make it a feature.

inside:
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outside:
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Nobody knows but me.

Additional tip:
don’t eat chocolate when you’re in the habit of keeping pins in your mouth.
Chocolate spot right at the front of my button placket:
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A crazy comfortable sleeve in a small armhole.

I traced the weird thing I draped yesterday and cut a new sleeve from it. That’s one weird looking sleeve pattern:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
With the sideseams closed it is distorted:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This is because I matched the points where the ends of the sleeve cap should meet each other, at the underarm. And sleeve seams are perpendicular to the vertical centre line running down from High Point (which is no longer the highest point in my sleeve cap). Width at biceps is 35 cm, at elbow 30 cm.

(I’ll have to do second trial after this one with horizontal lines running horizontal. Letting the guide line around the biceps meet itself at the seam. Or change the direction from the central vertical line, based on where the sleeve cap edges now meet. But first run this trial.)

Into the bodice and onto the mannequin. It fits into the armhole like a glove. It’s nice not having to ease in extra fabric. Still using lots of pins and sewing over them slowly.
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

On me:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Lots of crumpled fabric in the armpit. Uncomfortable. But very easy to lift my arm. The ease of wearing is amazing.

Front shows vertical line running down from High Point (shoulder) to the front. This sleeve is rotating around my arm:

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I pin away the extra fabric at the arm pit and mark where the biceps guide line now is. Also where the sleeve thinks the vertical line from High Point should run, where it to run straight down instead of coming to the front.

Picture of the sleeve cap with the pinned fabric, the new vertical line coming in diagonally and my biceps guide line which is half moon shaped. Crazy sleeve.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Opening it up again and drafting a new cap sleeve based on the pinning. Take away fabric in the left “mouse ear”, the cap part that meets the arm hole at the front:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

I keep the rest the same. There’s the vertical guide line from High Point (HP) at a diagonal angle.

Trying to match the seam points of the sleeve cap for sewing the side seam:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This will be sleeve one (1), based on the pinnings from the previous fit. Throwing grain and common sense into the wind.

I’ll make another one (2) based on the draft from the start but now with new sideseams based on how the new vertical line running from the Highest Point runs:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 2: I’ve cut fabric away at the left part of the sleeve, adding it to the right. So width of sleeve is 35 cm at (strange half moon shaped) biceps guide line and 30 cm at elbow guide line. At a right angle to the vertical guide line from HP. If this fits at all this pattern should be redrawn on a new piece of cloth, obeying the grain of the fabric.

Fitting:

Sleeve 2, it’s on my right:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 1, based on previous fit, it’s on my left:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Crazy amount of movement possible! It doesn’t drag up the shirt. I like it!

Fitting conclusions:
Sleeve 2 sits awful. Lots of fabric in my arm pit yet still there’s tightness there. My wrist doesn’t level out.
Sleeve 1, distorted as it may be, actually sits really nice. So much movement possible!
Still a few tweaks needed though. (is there more ease because it’s a bit on the bias?)

I’ll cut a new sleeve, on the grain, and put it in the bodice of my fashion fabric shirt. Just cleaning up the lines a bit, having high point and its line in check with grain.
The little tweaks I had to do where in the sleeve cap (just a little less drama in the wave at the front and just a little less flair near the end point back). They cause the perimeter of the sleeve cap to be the exact dimension of the arm hole. 20 cm from front to High Point, 21,6 cm from High Point to back.
This fills me with excitement! This sleeve will fit this arm hole perfectly. Have I drafted a sleeve that, while looking ridiculous, might work?

I’m sewing up my new version into the fashion shirt. (My muslin has been so tortured that it won’t hold another sleeve.)

Premature conclusions:
1. I may have DRAPED a sleeve, not drafted on. This method may work for me.
2. I may have forced myself into this ridiculous need because my arm hole is a bit weird (too tight).

Last fit, on the fashion fabric: nice. I can rotate my arm all around without distorting the bodice fabric.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Needs less width on the biceps. I can live with a sleeve like this and be seen in public. I’m sure sewists will cringe when they see how my seam rotates around the sleeve.

Ideas for next time: lower the arm hole at the underside with 0,5 cm. Also 0,5 cm more inward at the front. I need a little more space to tuck all the sleeve folds away.

Last play for the day: just a little more cutting and pasting at that ridiculous shape. Try and put it into a grain grid.
3 versions of the same sleeve.
1. the sleeve I found, with the rotating sleeve seam.
2. the same but straight on the grain. Versie “A”
3. version “B” that has everything transferred onto a proper grain grid.

The found pattern, crazy and comfortable:
crazy sleeve pattern with maximum wearing comfort

Version A = previous version but cut on grain:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Version B, trying to match the side seams in length. Having som sort of straight line going from sleeve cap to wrist; cleaning up more lines:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

end result version B::
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

What do yo know, version B doesn’t look that unlike a conventional sleeve pattern after all. A sleeve block with a fairly squarish sleeve cap. (Back is left, Front is at the right of the picture).

Will have to sew these three up and try them for (final) fit. And then dare to sport crazy sleeves on my fabric shirt.

 

 

some residual notes in dutch for me:
3 versies:
1- m’n gevonden vorm. Met verdraaide achternaad. “versie krulletje”
2. deze vorm maar dan recht op de grain met z’n naad en de voornaad reechtgemaat van pols naar oksel. Wat weggeknipt is is aan de zijkant/andere naad erbij geleged en een beetje opgeschoond en ervoor gezorgd dat beide naden 59 cm lang zijn, net als de rechtgeknipte naad. “versie A”
3 “versie B” heeft de HP-polslijn recht op de grain liggen en een grid dat de grain volgt. Het voorpunt v d oksel is recht naar beneden/de pols geknipt en aan de achternaad is ruimte bijgemaakt zodat de ellebeoog 30 cm breedte krijgt en de pols 25 cm. Dit is een papieren oplossing waarvan je nog maar moet zien of het in 3D mooi wordt.

Well fitting sleeves that allow for movement: angle of set in.

I cut the self drafted sleeves and put them into the bodice. Looks alright….ish. We’re only looking at the upper part: shoulders and sleeve cap. Shoulder seam length seems ok. (the neck line still has 2 cm seam allowance so … Continue reading

Self drafted pattern for a blouse, with close fitting arm hole and two sleeves, one of them oblong.

A few muslins further and now I’ve got one that works and that I’d actually call a pattern:

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sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I’ve been playing with sleeves a bit.
I’ve drafted and fitted on that I’m going to use. It’s on the left arm hole of this muslin. It has a biceps width of 35 cm and a sleeve cap matching the armhole exactly at 42,3 cm. It has little gussets at the sides.

On the right shoulder is an oblong sleeve. Just a straight piece of cloth, 42,3 cm in width and some 25 cm high. I wanted to learn how much arm movement it gives. I’ve been reading and rereading Ikatbag’s explanation of sleeves and I wanted to experience it.

Just a rectangle sewn into arm hole:

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
Excellent movement! Nice flair…

One day I’d like to take this sleeve (cap) and play with it. See if I can eliminate the flair, reduce the bulk at the underarm but still keep most of that nice room for movement. But not today. (I did start. I sewed some lines into the sleeve, as it was still attached, and see how that influenced fit. And I started to read up on medieval smocks and skirtles. But really, I should sew a blouse now.)

This is the sleeve I’ve drafted. It sits nice. But in unwashed cotton it’s still a bit restrictive. I’m hoping it will be alright in the lighter fashion fabric. If not it’ll be a learning experience.
Muslin looks nice though. See how close to the body the arm hole is. It’s not uncomfortable at all!
And it gives better movement than any other sleeve I’ve made before, in any of my grey blouses.
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

Here’s the pattern of this sleeve cap, with the dark thread indicating the sleeve cap but without gusset flares at both ends:
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I also drafted front panel facings; a collar and a collar stand and plackets for the sleeves.

Now I’m ready to transfer markings to fashion fabric I think…

This is the fabric:

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Grey little flowers blouse: tripping over arm hole.

AIM:

  1. To play some more with the armhole: position, fit, ease.
  2. the original Burda sleeve does not have the grain centered, does this have a function?
  3. another collar.

PATTERN ALTERATIONS made on the Grey Winter Deer blouse pattern:

  • bringing the armhole closer to the body in the front and back. Not taking in sideseam nor altering how it meets the sleeve. (my alterations widen the armhole… or not?)
  • shortening the shoulderseam by 2 cm. Doing this at the princess seam point instead of the arm hole. Just to find out.
  • taking off the integrated collar, inserting the collar from Deer & Doe instead.
  • a little more pronounced shaping at the underbust on the side front panels
  • not forgetting the horizontal dart in the front panels this time.

same alterations I made for the Grey Winter Deer when compared to the Stylish Cat Lady Blouse:

  • extend the front panel towards the collar, don’t let it bend away so fast

CUTTING:
using the front panel -free cut to extend the Center Front seam- for cutting the facings.

STAYSTITCHING:
not the sleeve seam though. (sleeve cap yes)

NOW CHANGE TO RIGHT COLOUR THREAD.

DARTS:
horizontal one in the front panel and the cup darts at the side.

SEWING:

  1. sleeve seam
  2. zipper (new way, just like a lined zipper pouch.)
  3. long seams
  4. shoulder seams

2. Zipper sandwiched between front panel and facing. Having it’s end peak out so it’s hidden from the right side:

Precise cutting makes for precise positioning, front panel, zipper and facing line up beautifully:

Because I did the zipper before I sewed the princess lines I could work it like a zippered pouch. I used a tutorial.

3. Princess seams are quite curvy. Here’s one panel laying on top of its partner:

Pin it down, cut into the seam allowance and staystitching to make it work:

FITTING:
– the princess seams ended way too much to the side, they don’t run over the apex.

The zipper is not yet top stitched, that may draw in the princess seams a bit. Topstitch the zipper and see what’s what. Before the topstitching I pressed and pinned the fabric carefully. On the outside it covers the zipper, on the inside it lays back a bit, for easier operating of the zipper.
But somehow, no matter how well you pin and press, the upper layer will wrinkle because the dog teeth make the under layer go faster. There’s a lot of pulling and smoothing involved to make it look acceptable. Slow sewing.

– I need little darts at the side bust, before I put in the sleeves.

FITTING 2:

Zipper top stitched. Princess seams are still off the apex, 2 cm too much to the sides at least. I think I might have added some width to the front panels when I cut it? Perhaps because I wanted a button band and snap ons buttons. Then I changed it to a zipper but didn’t take out any fabric. Will do for a next time I use this pattern.

For now I think I’ll leave it like this. It was quite an effort to sew the princes seams, with their curves, I don’t look forward to resewing them. And I fear the armhole is already positioned enough towards the bust, it shouldn’t go any nearer.

Taking in the sideseams at the underarm makes up for the surplus of fabric. Took in a whole (2x)1 cm. Now it’s snug. Might be too snug.

The curve at the underbust -more curvy than the previous blouse- works well. But still horizontal folds.
I wonder if they’d be less if the closing CF was not as stiff as a zipper is.

Sewing in side darts.

SLEEVES:
pinned one and sewed it in with sleeve running close to the dog teeth and bodice on top. No trouble easing it in.
Fitting showed I had not enough room at the front. I’m going to take out the bust dart.
(sleeve cap seems to be too roomy at the front but this is the 2 cm seam allowance bulking things up. It’s not been graded yet.)
Shoulder seam is positioned a bit to the back:


(the collar is going to need some serious engineering. I know nothing about collars! Yet.)

SLEEVE 2:
took out the bust dart. While sewing the arm hole was now too big for the sleeve. As the shoulder seam was a bit too much to the back I took it apart and used it to take away some of the excess fabric of the armhole. (we’re talking maybe one cm here, exactly how much the side bust dart took up.)

FITTING 3:
looks awful. Sits even worse.


It looks like I moved the shoulder seam to the back instead of the front (??)
The arm hole is way too wide at the front top, the sleeve cap is too narrow over my upper arm. I can’t move one bit, it looks like I sewed a sloper, with no ease.

The whole arm hole sits awful. It should be nearer to my body. Higher in the sideseam, closer to the body in the front. The shoulder seam should even be shorter I think, but then the sleeve will move on top of my shoulder and that’s not good.

But the extra ease from the abandoned bust dart is good though. It’s on the right side in this picture:

Blouse thrown in corner. I’m done sewing for the day.

HOW TO PROCEED:
got no idea. The sleeves have to come off, that’s clear. I have enough fabric to draft new sleeves. But how? What?
Take the bodice -with bust darts- as a point of departure I guess. That one sits good and looks fine. But the arm hole is a bit wide at the front. How attach a sleeve to it without it becoming wings?
Maybe a gusset at the underarm…
The bustdarts do give the armhole a right angle. It’s no longer oblong.
The sleeves need some sort of wearing ease, at the sleeve cap. Even though Fashion-Incubator makes a good case that it’s nonsense.
Drape the sleeve in the hole?

UPDATE
I think I shouldn’t have matched up the seam of the sleeve with the side seam. Fashion-Incubator shows a rotated sleeve in her last picture.

I’m also thinking about sewing it in back side to front, just to see if that changes anything.

NEXT TIME I use this pattern:
– broaden the side front panels: make the arm hole smaller by bringing it closer to the arm pit. It’s about 2 to 4 cm out.
– more soupleness at the closing (CF) to see if the horizontal wrinkles at the underbust disappear. That rules out a zipper.

New Sleeve and Armhole for Burda 6909 Blouse

Here is a RIDICULOUS GOOD EXPLANATION for why and how armholes and sleeves should be shaped: Ikat bag and her Kleenex box.

 pic by Ikat Bag. Go read the post, it’s truly excellent.

How I got to A NEW ARMHOLE.

Pinning the two side pieces together at the top of the sideseam, allowing them to pivot.

Alining them with a piece of rectangular paper, making sure that the grain lines run perfectly perpendicular. Secure with tape:

The resulting new armhole:

It’s more rotated forward than the original Burda armhole. The side seams are brought up higher, the whole is brought forward, with less curve at the back and with a shortened shoulder seam.

The idea is that the arm hole sits good and well against the body, it’s the sleeve that will do all the movement.

A NEW SLEEVE:

taking a piece of cord that matches the length of the armhole, 49 cm. That’s how long the upper curve of the sleeve must be. Not longer, not shorter.

I’m pleased to see it will bring the top of the shoulder cap down because a high shoulder cap might look stylish on a shirt but it’s meant for people who only keep their arms hanging down. Stylishly.

Boldly drawing the new shoulder cap. Freehand, based on the cord.

I went for width of sleeve of size 42, hoping to get more movement at the biceps. It didn’t. I could have gone with the 38 I originally cut and sewed. But then the cap would have come a tad higher too.

Notches were transferred too. I guessed that the top notch, indicating the shoulder seam, should remain in the same position. After attaching the sleeve I’m not so sure though. It was difficult fitting the sleeve in the armhole when insisting the top notch should be at  the shoulderseam.

SEWING the NEW SLEEVE inside the Burda bodice.

I couldn’t change the armhole of the Crazy Cat Lady Blouse, that was cut from the Burda pattern with a 1,5 cm seam allowance. But I could change the sleeves because I had a bit of fabric left and could cut a new pair of sleeves from it. The cats wouldn’t sit right side up but I prefer wonky cats over restriction of movement at the arms.

I took out the wrong sleeves and put them aside. They’re back in the fabric stash.

For the new sleeves I first traced the sewing line that fitted the armhole best, in orange thread:

the Backside:

Put in the first sleeve following these orange lines. Looks alright:

Still a bit restriction but better than the original sleeves:

Below is a comparison of both sleeves.
On the left the new sleeve, on the right still the original: straining around my arm. Even though, with the orange threaded stitch lines, the armhole is at a slightly better position than the Burda 6909 pattern prescribes:

Endresult for two new sleeves, after much difficulty putting in the second sleeve. (In the end I stitched it in by hand. It’s great how many times you can stitch and rip out this cotton fabric. It holds well.)

I lack the experience of easing in sleeves.

With another fabric I tried the whole new combination: new armhole, new sleeves.

The new armhole sat fantastic on my body!
When putting in the new sleeves I ran into trouble. The cap of the sleeve was bigger than the armhole. I thought I could work with this by making it less high, less curved. Because I had learned that the flatter it is, the more arm movement it gives.

This worked for one sleeve:

But with the second one I again had really difficulty easing it in. Changing the curve of the cap I followed a faulty line, now there’s a strange angle in there. The sleeve is not as comfortable as the other one. (But still better than Burda 6909).

I should probably take it out and resew it. And learn more about sleeves and about easing them in. Best would be to see someone doing it, watch some videos.