Plantain Sew Along #4 Putting In A Sleeve

Welcome back! Today we’ll be tackling the sleeve and side seams. Before we get started, make sure that you have all of your notches and markings from the pattern transferred to your sleeves and body of the shirt. We are going to use these to get the sleeves in the correct place.

If you are adding elbow patches, lay out your sleeves, right side up. Place your elbow patches on the top of the sleeve, right side up, in the spot you have marked. Make sure that you have them both inline with the double notches (back) of each sleeve. Top stitch the patches in place.

I’m not going to lie. This might have been the hardest part because the mint green knit fabric we are using is very lightweight. Next time we’ll use fusible webbing (Heat ‘n Bond) to attach them before we sew them down. No matter the fabric you are using, take extra care not to stretch the sleeve fabric while you are sewing or you will get ripples.

If you do get ripples, give the patch a good press.

Now let’s attach the sleeves!

Open the shirt up so that it’s laying flat, right side up. Lay the sleeve on the shirt, right side down. Match up the center sleeve mark with the shoulder seam and pin.

Next, meet the notches together, lining up the raw edges, and pin. Then do the same for the two ends of the sleeve. Things will get a little messy here. Don’t worry about anything but the raw edge of the sleeve matching up with the raw edge of the arm hole. You are slowly turning a one dimensional object into a three dimensional shirt.

Ease the raw edges between the pins you have until they match up. You will have lots of pins, that’s okay. It’s much easier to get it all matched up now then to try to line it up when you are under the presser foot trying to sew.

Repeat this process for the other sleeve. Then you are ready to sew the sleeves to the arm hold of the shirt.

Take your time and stop often to make sure the two pieces are smooth where you are sewing. Don’t worry if it’s mesy everywhere else, as long as the small section you are about to sew is smooth and lined up. Also, be careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew. Let the sewing machine do it’s job and just carefully guide the fabric through.

We used a serger in the video but the principle is the same no matter what type of sewing machine you use. Just follow the guidelines we gave you in blog post #3 – Tips for Sewing with Knits.

Now take a deep breath. Your sleeve is in!

The last step for today is to sew up the side seams. Start by matching up the seams of the sleeve you just sewed (right sides together) then smooth out the rest of the sleeve and pin the raw edges together. Next smooth out the body of the shirt and pin the raw edges.

Now you are ready to sew.

Sew from the bottom of the shirt, up the side, give it a slight turn when you get to the sleeve, then sew down the sleeve. This will all be done in one seam. Repeat on the tother side.

When you are done, try it on. See if you need to take it in anywhere and adjust as necessary. The neck opening will be big at this point. Once we put in the binding, it will come in and be less open and droopy.

If you would like to make a sleeveless version, like Roxanne’s, you will need to cut 2 strips for the arm hole bindings the same width as the neck binding (about 2 inches). You just need to figure out the length. To do that, first sew up the side seams of your shirt. Now measure one of the arm holes using a fabric tape measure. Take that number time .75. This is the length you will cut both arm hole bindings.

You will attach the arm hold binding ust like the neck binding. We will go into detail about that next week when we do blog post #5 – The Finishing Touches.

Ok, we’ll see you next week!

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