Monday, 18 November 2013

Working With Stretch Fabric - Sleeve Construction - Set In Method

So, today I'm following on from the previous post. If you aren't going to use the flat method, you use the set in method to attach sleeves. If you've sewn with wovens, this will already be familiar.

Generally, the flat method is the way to go for stretch tops. But there will be occasions where set in is preferable. I might use set in if:
a) I am designing something and I'm not sure if I want a sleeve included. 
b) I am adjusting fit and want to get the bodice sorted before I put sleeves in (in case I need to change the shoulder line, for example).
c) I am making a dress and I think the bulk of the dress might make it easier to handle as a set in, or it includes a fold or construction trick that requires different handling.
d) I am making a more detailed sleeve and want to finish it separately.

I should say you can use either method with gathers at the sleeve head, as long as you match your notches it will work. 

Picking up where we left off before, I had a finished bodice sans sleeve.

I finished the sleeve too - including seams and hem. 

So now I have sleeve and bodice in separate pieces. It's worth taking a moment to lay the pieces out and check which sleeve goes in which arm goes in which side. In this case it's a no brainer because one sleeve, one hole!

To attach the sleeve, I turn the bodice inside out, but keep the sleeve the right way in.

Here we are looking at the back of the bodice as I have turned it inside out, and want to keep track of which side I am working on.

I turn the sleeve over, and slip it into the armhole, keeping the seam down towards the sideseam.

When it is all the way in, I match the points, starting with the top of the shoulder (should be notched) and shoulder seam, the seams for under the arm, and then the front and back notches.

I have put in a few more pins between these points for stability.

Once I have all of these points pinned, I sew around the opening and finish my seam.

Ta Da!

Yay! Symmetry!


  1. Looking good!
    Which do you find the quickest? Side seam and sleeve seam all in one?

    1. Flat method, hands down. But when you're stopping to take photos, both methods are slow. :)