Monday, 20 February 2017

Sew Along New Look 6871 - Week 3. Body & Sleeves.

Welcome to week three.  We've reached the half way mark!

This week we'll be discussing sleeves, bias binding and sewing up the side seams.

It's been so hot here this past week that I've hardly been able to get any sewing done at all.  Even the air conditioner has just about given up the ghost, out in this little tin roofed back room of ours.

Okie dokie.  We're up to Step that I've finally found the pattern instruction sheet which was being used as a bookmark in a cookbook.  If it was too hot to sew, one would have thought it would be too hot to cook.  Surely?


Step 12 asks you to gather the top of the sleeves then stitch under arm seam.  I actually find it easier to attach the sleeve to the body of the garment before sewing the under arm seam. Then I sew the under arm seam and side seam in one continual line of stitching.  This is no doubt not the correct way to 'set in' a sleeve, but I find it's easier for me.

I'm not that fond of gathers in the top of my sleeves either, especially if the fabric doesn't have a soft drape. For some stiffer or more structured fabrics like linen blends or patchwork cottons, the following is how I alter my sleeves so that there is no 'puff''.

Rule a horizontal line just under the arm hole curve from seam allowance to seam allowance.  Rule a vertical from the centre top of the sleeve down to the horizontal line.  Cut along these lines being careful not to cut past the seam allowance on either side.

Measure the sleeve opening.  You'll have to be a little more accurate with your tape measure than I look like I'm being in the following photos, but I couldn't hold my heavy old SLR camera and the tape measure at the same time.  Yes I know, I need a smart phone.  

Fold the cut pattern over on top of itself until the measurement is the same as the armhole opening measurement.  This really does sound like 'double dutch' doesn't it?  Thank goodness I took some photos.

You can see in the following photo how much excess fabric was cut away after drafting out the new sleeve. Using this method, The front and back armhole curves remain the same so the sleeve will still fit into the dress nicely.  It's just the extra fabric for the puffed sleeves that is cut away.

Pin sleeves to dress using a lot of pins so that there are no puckers.  (I went to all this trouble to reduce the way am I putting up with puckers).    

The finished sleeve with no 'puff'.

Sewing the side seams.

Overlock or zig zag the raw edge of the fabric on the side of the garment and also on the under arm edges of the sleeves if you are having sleeves.

Sew the side seams using a regular length stitch.  Press seams open.

If you are making a sleeveless dress, pinny or popover style, you might like to cut away a little of the shoulder fabric.  An easy way to ensure both the shoulder shapes end up the same, is to draw the cutting line first. When you are happy, cut off the excess fabric, then use that piece to mark the cutting line on the opposite side.

Bias Binding

For either the flutter sleeve or the sleeveless style, you will need some bias binding to finish the armhole edge. It's quite easy to make your own using a Bias Tape Maker (such an original name) or alternatively, just buy a packet of 1/2" bias tape.  For two of my earlier dresses/tops from this pattern, I made the bias tape as I had plenty of fabric to play with.  Because the fabric for the tape must be cut on the bias, you will need to have enough left over fabric to do this.  For my cloud dress I've bought a packet of navy bias tape as I didn't purchase extra fabric, plus sometimes it's just easier to buy it in a packet!

Right.  Here we go.

Mark the seam allowance along the armhole edge as a stitching guideline.

Starting at the under arm seam, place the bias tape right sides together with the garment, with the right hand side of the tape unfolded.  Align the right hand fold of the tape directly over the stitching line you have marked. Be sure to fold the beginning of the tape over a little to conceal the raw edge as this will be seen on the wrong side of the garment and can become frayed with repeated washing.

Machine along the right hand fold all the way around until there is a slight overlap of the bias tape.
Trim the excess garment fabric within the seam allowance back to the raw edge of the bias tape.

Clip the curves of the seam allowance being careful not to nick the stitching.  This will help the curved under arm area to sit nicely flat.  Fold the bias tape over so that it is not showing on the right side of the garment. Gently ease into into shape which is quite easy to do as the bias tape will have plenty of 'give'. 

Hand or machine stitch into place.  I prefer hand stitching as there's less chance of puckering.....and we all know how I feel about puckers.

Next week we'll be finishing off our garment!  

Your tasks for this week.
  • Insert sleeves if required.
  • Finish off armhole edge as desired.
  • Sew up side seams.

 ......and finally some gentle words from Jules of  Sew Me Something.  
Handmade objects are given qualities that come from where we are right now with our skills, time and creativity. It is the time and love we invest in each of our projects that really counts not the perfectly finished piece. So we really should not berate ourselves for the slip-ups we make. Or forgo the pleasure of acquiring a new skill or learning a new technique because we have a fear of it not being “quite right”.
Trying isn’t failing – failing to try is.

Further Reading.   

Rhonda, from the Down to Earth blog has included a link in her weekend reading list on how to attach bias binding. For those who haven't been over to her blog yet, the directions are at theseasonedhomemaker.

There is also a fabulous 'bias tape finish' tutorial over on ProfessorPincushion.


RobynLouise said...

So glad you are posting here. I love the way you've done this tutorial and also the variations added.
Cheers :)

Fran Ponta said...

Thanks RobynLouise! I'm glad I'm posting here too as I'll probably follow my own tutorial for the next one. (I have already while making week four's pockets!)