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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: fashiondesigner
Date: 12-29-2005, 07:16 PM (1 of 7)
I have never had a problem with sleeves!
This is SO frustrating!


I'm putting together my first ankle length coat ... I have the lining in, the collar is ready to be completed, if I can only get past the sleeves!
I'm using a lightweight wool material, but it keeps bunching and they aren't going in correctly ... not sitting on the shoulder as they should ... been working on this for 3 days now ... on and off ..... :bang:

Any suggestions?!
Unique, Extravagant, Elegant Clothing ....
..... is my specialty!

Life without the ability to create is not worth living!
User: fashiondesigner
Member since: 12-27-2005
Total posts: 14
From: Skye
Date: 12-29-2005, 09:56 PM (2 of 7)
I feel your frustration. I would measure the pattern to see what the difference is between the armhole on the body is compared to the actual sleeve head if it is greater than 1.5" this might be your problem ( or rather the patterns problem). fixing it well I am no expert but with bulkier fabrics sometimes trimming the seam allowance down to 1/4" has helped me in the past.
I hope someone with more knowlege in this area can help.
The other tip I learnt at a tailoring class was to sew with the sleeve next to the feed dogs this helps with easing in the sleeve head especially if you "crowd" the fabric like Sandra Betzina does ie place your finger behind the foot as you sew this helps ease the extra fabric which is next to the feed dogs.
Sorry I am wobbling all over the place I will stop Good luck
User: Skye
Member since: 09-28-2000
Total posts: 233
From: Chrysantha
Date: 12-29-2005, 10:09 PM (3 of 7)
For 'set in' sleeves I always use the old, baste stitching and gather method.
It's usually done only on the 'cap' part, baste 2 lines...gather gently and EASE when sewing. (of course I am 'old' and I never learned any other way...but it's always worked).
User: Chrysantha
Member since: 09-06-2002
Total posts: 2414
From: paroper
Date: 12-29-2005, 10:29 PM (4 of 7)
You may need to steam the sleeve head slightly. After three days, it may be a little stretched. (Be careful because you can shrink the sleeve and that's not what you want to do.)

Ok. First of all. The sleeve of the coat and the seam line should be close to the same size if you could just lay them out as straight lines. The problem is the curve. So you have an outside curve which is larger 5/8 of an inch away and an inside curve which is smaller at 5/8 of an inch away. The name of the game is to join the coat to the sleeve exactly where the lines are the same. To do this easier, you sew basting stitches at exactly 5/8 of and inch and 3/8 of an inch on the sleeve which has the outer curve.

Match all seams. Some coats have back seams (princess) that should match a back seam in the sleeve. Occasionally, you'll find a coat where the sleeve seam is actually not on the bottom of the sleeve. It may also have two seams in the bottom of the sleeve. In these coats, the seam that goes down the back of the sleeve runs through the elbow. These fit better because they have removed a fitting dart at the elbow and added ease. That makes the coat more comfortable. By adding it down the side back, it is right on the elbow instead of off to one side. However, it can be confusing when you are putting the sleeve into the coat because there may not be a sleeve seam at the bottom of the sleeve to match the coat side seam.

Match all seams, then match all notches. from the bottom of the sleeve up to the notches in the coat, the seams should match easily, provided that the sleeve is correctly aligned.

The double notches will go to the back of the coat and the single notches will go to the front. When the sleeve is correctly inserted into the coat, the sleeve will curl naturally toward the front.

Next, match the dot at the top of the sleeve pattern to the top shoulder seam. This will even out the amount of fullness in the sleeve so that there is not too much to the front or the back.

Next, pull your basting threads to make the sleeve fit the hole. Most all of the gathering should occur in the 3/8 inch part of the basting stitches, not the 5/8. However, you will probably have some slight ease adjustment in the 5/8 inch seam too. Adjust the seam so that it is smooth on the 5/8 inch seam line. You can adjust small amounts with pins as well as basting if you need. Always pin at a 90 degree angle to the seamline. I sew over pins but some machines don't like it so unless you are familiar with your machine, go slowly and pull the pins as you go. If, while sewing you encounter a new pucker or gather in your sleeve, take another pin and "rake" the point over the pucker to make it smooth. I usually sew from the inside of the sleeve. I've tried it both ways over the years and for me this is easiest.

Good luck. I hope that there is something here that helps you get the sleeve in place.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: fashiondesigner
Date: 12-29-2005, 10:46 PM (5 of 7)
This has all been VERY helpful!
Thank you!

After reading here, I realized I didn't do the easing around the top of the armhole, so that MAY be why it's not going in properly - ah ha!

My brain has taken a vacation without me I suppose :re:

Thanks again!
Unique, Extravagant, Elegant Clothing ....
..... is my specialty!

Life without the ability to create is not worth living!
User: fashiondesigner
Member since: 12-27-2005
Total posts: 14
From: MariLynnTX
Date: 12-30-2005, 09:03 PM (6 of 7)
I never make a coat without very loose-fitting sleeves. I am interested in comfort first of all. My sleeves have to be loose enough to fit over my dress or blouse sleeve without feeling tight. I don't like to wear or even look at close-fitting sleeves! Any coat that requires help to get into or out of is immediately off my list. I always warned everyone I sewed for against patterns with closely fitted sleeves. coffee 2 Marilynntex
Life is a song...we give it harmony or dissonance.
User: MariLynnTX
Member since: 08-13-2001
Total posts: 256
From: DorothyL
Date: 01-01-2006, 09:37 AM (7 of 7)
Well, if you didn't ease stitch in some way, that could solve the problem right off. And, of course, Pam can explain. But I was going to suggest, if all else fails, (you might want to get out the sling shots after this one, folks) as a last resort hand basting the sleeves in might help.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
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