Sewing a set-in sleeve doesn’t have to be a chore. In this video, Haley teaches you a little sleeve vocabulary, shares three different sleeve types, and walks you through how to easily sew a set-in sleeve.
- Pattern featuring set-in sleeves
- Tailor’s ham
Hey it’s Haley at Seamwork and today I’m gonna be showing you how to sew a set-in sleeve. Sewing a set in sleeve can feel really intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be scary at all, all you need is a little patience and plenty of pins.
Before I get started, showing you how to sew a set-in sleeve I want to share a little bit of sleeve vocab with you and also show you a couple of different examples of sleeves. Let’s start with the Rachel button-up shirt. So the Rachel shirt is a really good example of a set-in sleeve. You’ll notice that on a set-in sleeve that the seam is gonna follow
the natural joint of the body. This upper portion of the sleeve is called the sleeve cap and on your pattern piece it’s gonna be a convex kind of curve.
Then we have the underarm, it’s pretty straight forward, it’s the underarm of the sleeve and on your pattern piece it’s gonna be a little bit more concave looking. Then we have the armhole, this is the part of the bodice that the sleeve is joined to. Sometimes you might see it called armscye, it’s the same thing as an armhole, it’s just a fancier word for it.
I also want to show you a couple examples of different types of sleeves that aren’t set-in. Right here I have the Bo top. Bo is a cut on sleeve and what that means is that when you cut out your pattern piece the sleeve is actually part of the bodice instead of a separate piece. This kind of sleeve you’ll see on boxier type garments because you can’t get that same shaping that you get with a set-in sleeve.
And then we have the Tacara dress. The Tacara dress is a really great example of a drop shoulder. A drop shoulder is kind of a mash-up between a set-in sleeve and a cut on sleeve. You’ll see that part of the sleeve is cut on with the dress but then there’s an extension that gets set into that. When you’re wearing it, the seam is gonna fall below your shoulder point. And those are three different types of sleeves.
There’s a whole ton of variety within those three types, but just knowing those three is gonna give you a real leg up when you’re sewing sleeves. Now that you have a better understanding of different
types of sleeves, we’re gonna jump in and I’m gonna show you how to sew a set-in sleeve.
First things first, we’re going to assemble the bodice according to the pattern instructions - making sure that both the shoulder and the side seams are sewn. With right sides together match the underarms of each sleeve. Pin and stitch at a 5/8 inch seam allowance. Then finish the seam allowances separately and press open.
Set your sewing machine up for a basting stitch, this is just a straight stitch with a really long stitch length, usually about five millimeters. Sew three rows of basting stitches along the sleeve cap between the notches. One row of stitching should be at a quarter inch, another at a half inch, and the third at 3/4 inch down from that sleeve cap. Make sure to leave nice long thread tails.
Three rows of basting stitching is going to give us a lot more control than just two when we’re easing in that sleeve. Later these basting stitches will help us ease the sleeve into the armhole since the sleeve cap is usually a little longer than the corresponding portion of the armhole. This is built into the pattern to allow for more movement. Sleeves with gathered sleeve caps will obviously have a little bit more gathers than a sleeve that is simply eased in.
Next we’re just gonna hem the sleeve according to the pattern instructions. This is going to make it much easier than hemming later on when it’s attached to the bodice. With right sides facing together, place the sleeve into the armhole. Line up all the notches and pin into place at the underarm. Then align the circle at the sleeve cap with the shoulder seam and secure with a single pin.
Next we’re gonna adjust the sleeve cap by pulling on the thread tails until it fits nicely into our armhole. Try to distribute the gathers as evenly as possible. Pin the sleeve cap into place. Hand or machine baste the sleeve into the armhole, stitching with a sleeve side on top will help you make sure that no folds or puckers form as you stitch. Then check to make sure you didn’t get any puckers in your seam. If necessary you can unpick a small portion of the seam and then baste again to remove any puckers. Once you’re satisfied with your sleeve, stitch the sleeve to the armhole using a regular stitch length. Once your sleeve is stitched into place you can remove all of your temporary basting stitches.
Finish those seam allowances together, and then press the seam allowance away from the body towards the sleeve. A pressing ham can be really helpful here.
And there you have it, how to sew a set-in sleeve! Pretty easy, right?! If you liked this video make sure to LIKE and subscribe, and then follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on all things Seamwork. Thanks for joining me and happy sewing!