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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: jebjow
Date: 10-08-2006, 03:38 AM (1 of 5)
Hello everyone... I'm new here. More of a lurker than anything else. I have found so many things helpful here that I'm becoming much of an addict. Here's my question though...

How do I do an ease stitch? I've googled it, like I do most my terminology questions, but the answers have all been pretty lame. I'm about to sew sleeves on my daughters halloween princess dress and have come to a halt b/c I'm not sure how to proceed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Oh, I don't think I mentioned that I HATE sleeves !!!

Thanks again,
User: jebjow
Member since: 09-26-2006
Total posts: 6
From: Corinna29
Date: 10-08-2006, 09:25 AM (2 of 5)
Hope I can explain this & not trip you up further. An ease stitch allows you to do a slight gather on the larger of the 2 pieces you are joining. In this case the sleeve to the arm hole of the blouse. While the sleeve is still flat, using a long stitch, sew 2 rows of stitches between the notches of the top of the sleeve. Sew on the seam line & then sew 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch on the inside. Leave long tails of thread & don't backstitch or otherwise secure your ends. Sew the underarm seam of the sleeve. When matching the sleeve to the blouse, I pin at the underarm seam & the shoulder seam 1st. Then I match up the notches & by gently pulling on the bobbin thread of your ease stitching you gather the sleeve to fit inside the remaining area. Adjust the gathers until the fullness is equal on right & left & sew in place. HTH
User: Corinna29
Member since: 07-30-2006
Total posts: 44
From: paroper
Date: 10-08-2006, 01:30 PM (3 of 5)
There is a vast difference between ease and gathers. Gathers have folds of fabric. Ease is even fabric without crimps or folds of any kind. However, the first steps are the same. As already mentioned, run your ease stitching as basting stitches. Some people find that loosening the tension and using smaller stitches work better. That is a matter of personal taste. The smaller stitches certainly are not as inclined to crimp the fabric. I like to carefully stitch so that my stitches are evenly spaced from the edge on both lines of stitching. If they waver the fabric is more prone to pucker. I also have better luck if I run both lines of basting the same direction on the same side of the fabric and start and stop them side by side. Since bobbin thread pulls easier than top thread, I like to pull my fabric from the inside sleeve portion as oposed to the top of the sleeve. Run your two lines of stitching one at 3/8 and one at 5/8 on the regular seamline. Now, if your sleeve is properly drafted, properly cut and not meant to be gathered at the sleeve head, the seam line will be the exact same size as the pattern at the shoulder seam line.

Once I have run the basting stitches I gather the sleeve up much smaller than the sleeve. This loosens the stitching so that it slips easier when you are doing the sleeve. Then from the inside of the sleeve, I pin it into place. The first pin goes at the bottom sleeve/side seam. I pin each notch next (double notches are always in the back, single in the front). I then pin the bottom part of the sleeve in place...easy. The next pin goes at the top of the sleeve (dot) and the shoulder seam. Then I "walk out the gathers, adjusting between the shoulder seam and the notch. The seamline stitching should almost be "flat" which the top gathers will only slightly be wavy. Pin in place and stitch.

When I stitch, I place the entire garment, sleeves and all to the left of the presser foot and sew from the inside of the sleeve. The only thing you need to watch is that you turn the garment a bit as you go to keep from making pleats in the garment. Otherwise, you have good visibility and better control than most methods. If you have a free arm machine (most are anymore, you can slip your sleeve around that. I have a free arm machine and I don't even bother. Whatever works for you. If you get to the top and find some little gathers "creeping" in, just take a pin and rake the fabric to relax the gather. This is usually an easy way to make the fabric smooth.

Although most people will trim back the seam allowances for sleeves or serge them off, before you do, be sure and check the sleeve carefully from the outside to make sure you haven't taken any pleats in the garment. If you have just remove the stitches there and repair (not a problem). If you trim without checking you can clip your garment.

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: DorothyL
Date: 10-08-2006, 03:25 PM (4 of 5)
If you steam the top of the sleeve after you have shaped it around the arm hole it will help prevent those little gathers at the top that Pam was talking about.
Sometimes, if there is less fabric to ease in, you can run a row a of small stitches with your finger pressed tight up against the back of the presser foot. You do that until it gets too bunched up, let the fabric go flat and press your finger up again until you have done the entire edge you want to ease. You really need to steam the ease in when you do it this way.
This works for me if there is less ease. And if the area to be eased is not too large (my finger cramps). If the fabric shrinks up to much you can just pull it to break a few stitches and loosen it up.
Some people say put the larger piece down so the feed dogs work with you but I, like Pam said, like to see the part that is most likely to show a gather. Also the walking foot helps.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: BeHipp
Date: 10-13-2006, 03:01 PM (5 of 5)
The problem with what is know as ease stitching (putting the finger behind the needle and preventing the fabric from moving thru the machine at a normal rate) is that there is no control on how much fabric is gathered up during the stitching process. And that is what is most critical in putting in a sleeve, which is where one would most likely use an ease stitching technique. After seeing how Cynthia Guffey puts in a sleeve, I now understand why mine always came out so "messy". I now use her method and haven't had a problem one since. First I put my sleeve down with right side facing up and stitch from notch to notch using a regular stitch length and just inside the normal seam allowance. If Im using a 5/8 seam allowance, then my gathering stitch is placed at . I dont use a long stitch length because the longer the stitch length - the bigger the gathers and more chance of getting a tuck. I then pull both threads to the wrong side of the fabric and pin the sleeve in place matching notches, pulling on the bobbin thread and gathering up the ease. When I have my ease gathered up, I tie off both ends of the thread so the gathers cant move. Then I remove the sleeve and place it on the ironing board and steam press. Which further shrinks the fabric and smoothes everything out. I can then quickly pin the sleeve back into place and sew up the armhole using my 5/8 inch seam allowance and I get perfect sleeves every time!
Be in Omaha
User: BeHipp
Member since: 09-22-2006
Total posts: 3
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