Today I'm showing one of two different ways to insert a sleeve in stretch clothing. In woven fabric, you pretty much have one option - make the bodice and then add the sleeve. But stretch has some flexibility. You can join the side seams and then add the sleeve, or you can join the sleeve first, and then do the side seam and sleeve seam all in one go.
The latter is the flat method, and the one I will be demonstrating in this post. This is the way commercial t-shirts are made, and its a bit faster than the other approach.
I did my best to get good photos of this, but it was a bit of a struggle to get everything in the frame.So I made some little diagrams too. If there's anything unclear, pop a note in the comments and I will make sure I get back to it.
First things first, I am starting by joining the shoulder seams and finishing the neck edge.
So I have a front and back. In this case I'm working with a cowl neck shirt, but for the sake of simplicity, my diagrams are for a regular crew neck.
|Join shoulder seams|
You can also do one shoulder, then the neck, then the other shoulder. But we can talk about that another time.
Once front and back are joined, you line up the sleeve.
Match the sleeve notches and centre of the sleeve seam with the shoulder seam, right sides together.
A quick word on notches. I clip into my seam, which is generally how commercial clothing is made. I try and keep those clips small.
You may see patterns with outward facing notches.
|Commercial pattern with inward notch markings.|
|Notching outwards. This can be difficult to cut out because you're going in and out, rather than straight along the seam line.|
|Clips straight into the notch markings.|
In this case, I've clipped inwards.
I match the clips front and back. Convention says that the further towards the back of the garment, the more notches in the pattern. So here, there is a single notch at the front of both sleeve and bodice pieces, and double notches on the back of both sleeve and bodice. This is how you get the sleeves facing the correct way!
Once those points are joined, pin the rest of the sleeve and join.
Now I have the front, back and sleeve joined. Naturally, this process should be repeated on the other side. (Although I'm just doing the one here for demonstration purposes).
When you have the sleeves joined at the shoulder, fold right sides together, and match side seams and sleeve seams.
I'm including an additional layer here, hence the contrasting colour.
Sew along the sleeve and side of the shirt in one seam.
The end of the sleeve is finished after joining.
And that's it!
It's probably fairly obvious why this method is favoured by commercial construction as it is fairly quick.
But since I have a one-sleeved shirt at the moment, I will show you the other method next time.