Setting a sleeve can put fear in many sewists but it isn’t as scary as it looks. It takes a bit of work but the result is worth it. Set-in sleeves are generally cut with ease (larger that the armhole) so don’t freak out.
We start with our back and front sewn together.
Step 23 from our pattern instructions: Stitch the dart in the upper sleeve (piece 9).
Press the dart flat using a tailors ham. You don’t want to squash the beautiful shape the sleeve head has formed.
If you think your dart is too bulky you can trim it and press flat.
Ps: I work by pinning as much as I can before sitting to sew. It makes the process faster but you can follow the pattern by pining each section, sewing, pining, sewing and sew on… Instead of crowding the upper sleeve by gathering method as suggested by the instructions I used traditional steam method.
The method I used consists in ironing and stretching against the curve of the seam. A technique I recently learned from Vintage Couture Tailoring*.
Pro-tip: Crowding is a technique that puckers an edge of fabric to make it smaller. It doesn’t cause gathers, but reduces the length of an area that needs to fit into a shorter area. The pattern is referring this technique as edge stitching.
Steps 25, 26 & 27 are well illustrated.
Sew both sleeves. Always matching the notches when pining.
For Steps 24, 28-29 I will elaborate a little more than the instructions.
We will be easing the sleeve head. The pattern is calling ease-stitching. Change to a long stitch. Working from the wrong side and leaving long thread ends, make two lines of stitching within the seam allowance (6mm) round the sleeve head between the small circles.
Still working from the wrong side, hold up a thread end on one side and pull to ease the head to fit the armhole. The ease should be distributed more across the head and back to accommodate the shoulder blade. Important: You are not gathering just slightly rolling towards the wrong side to form a cup.
Using your tailor ham and your steamer (iron) shrink the ripples at the sleeve head and mould into a cup shape.
Leave to cool a little. When using steam to shape a garment always wait until gets completely cool before handling. You don’t want to distort your work.
If you can place your peacoat on a stand/ mannequin that is great but don’t worry if you cannot. You need to find the right position to baste the shoulder pad or sleeve head. Place the sleeve to the armhole making sure your dart matches the shoulder seam. The straight grain should be straight down the sleeve and the sleeve should slight swing to the front. You can add visual guidance by basting a vertical stitching line at the sleeve centre and a basting line horizontal where the markings on the underarm seams meet.(I used my fabric as guidance)
Pin the sleeve edge to the armhole edge from the inside of the sleeve, right sides together and hand baste in place. Try your coat.
Check the position and fit. That way you can spot easy mistakes before sewing like bad distribution of ease, wrong sleeves at the armhole, wrong pitch i.e sleeves are swinging to the back… etc
To sew the sleeves.
Sew from the sleeve side at the back sleeve seam.
Use your fingers in front of the foot to help the ease go in. Stitch round to the starting point and carry on stitching in the same stitch line to the front notch position so the underarm is stitched double. Now lightly press the seam allowance only.
To apply a sleeve roll onto the armhole seam across the shoulder with the wider part facing the sleeve head. Pin from the front to the back notches. Hand stitch in place. Add shoulder pads (if using it). Sew pad to the shoulder seam allowance; tack ends to armhole seam.
Bonus technique that will be useful for the collar section of the sew-along:Two ways to use a tailor’s clapper.
Steam per section. Place the clapper on the steamed area and using both your hands press it down. Hold in place until the surface is cool and dry. Keep going until you finish the whole seam.
Steam & slap. Steam and slap edges of enclosed seams and thick areas until flat and smooth, increasing the pressure on thicker areas. Slapping and reacting till smooth.
Are you guys excited as how your coats are coming along? Do keep us updated as we would love to cheer you on. Next steps are now over McCall’s blog.