Sewing a Blouse (Newlook 6407) Day 5

It's pouring with rain outside today so I have every excuse to sit in my sewing room and carry on with my shirt.
Today I can tackle the sleeves. (Maybe 'tackle' isn't the word to use, it sets the wrong tone...).
Today I will calmly and neatly sew my sleeves.
That's better.
I know I have chopped and changed the instructions around rather for this pattern. No disrespect to the pattern, just personal preference. Today I am going to mess with our heads further and use a different sleeve from the one laid out in 6407. The top shape is the same as the short sleeve version on view E (I like the way it sits on my shoulder), but lengthened (copying a sleeve length/width from a blouse I bought in a charity shop some years ago).  Again, it's just personal preference and the sewing is the same.

We are now on step 23 of the instructions. This tells us to gather the top of the sleeve.
Just in case you are tempted to do this another way, by, for example, easing the sleeve whilst gently stretching the arm hole. Do NOT be fooled. Even if you then top stitch the armhole, it will FOREVER look as if you stretched the fabric (which you did).
Sorry, that was a bit shouty but it's probably for the best.

So, I will do two rows of gathering as the instructions suggest.
There, not too painful! Note that the gathers are close to the edge, well within the seam allowance. I don't want to have any gathering noticeable from the outside of the shirt.

Small framed people who wish to add a little bulk can have puffy sleeves. I, on the other hand, do not wish to add any extra bulk to any part of my clothing, including the sleeves.

Continuing with step 23, I can now stitch the seam of my sleeve. Straight forward stuff.

Now I need to decide how I want the hem of my sleeves to look....

The thought process went like this:-
I don't want lace as per the instructions for view E, I just want a plain hem.
The instructions for the front of the shirt include a line of stitching 1 inch from the edge of the front opening. I will echo this in the sleeve by having a hem stitched up 1 inch from the bottom edge.
A little insight into my mind; not too scary, eh?
Simple and straight forward.

Now for a tricky bit. Sewing in the sleeves. Don't forget though that the collar was a tricky bit and that seems to have come out OK.
For what it's worth, my advice when fitting sleeves is:- do not try taking any shortcuts. This is the voice of experience.

  • Use two rows of tiny gathering stitches within the seam allowance
  • Put the left sleeve into the left armhole and the right sleeve into the right armhole. Sounds simple enough. The double notch on your sleeve is the BACK of your sleeve. (If you didn't mark your notches in some way, good luck.)
  • Place the sleeve and shirt right sides together. This means the shirt is inside out and the sleeve is right side out, tucked into the shirt. 
  • Match the seams and pin it. Yes, really, use pins.
  • Match the dot you marked at the top of the sleeve (let's hope you marked it) with the shoulder seam and pin it in place.
  • Pin the sleeve from the under arm seam to the double notch and from the same seam to the single notch. (As I said, I hope you have these marked)
  • Now, gently, pull the double row of gathering stitches (securely stitched in place at the other end....!) until the sleeve is the same size as the armhole at the outermost raw edge of each. Tie off or stitch down the thread when you have managed this.
  • Evenly spread the tiny gathers (you did use tiny stitches).
  • Pin the sleeve in place. Pin it. Just make sure you pin it.

So far so good. When stitching in the sleeve you will need to go slowly, with your left hand inside the shirt between the two layers (the shirt body and the sleeve) gently pulling the sleeve to give a little tension. Your right hand will be constantly checking that the fabric in front of the needle is completely flat. The gathers are within the seam allowance and should not extend further. This works. Really it does.
Manipulate the fabric so that it is always flat just in front of the needle. Don't forget that the stitching must be 1.5 cm from the raw edge so keep a good eye on that too.  Good luck, here we go.

If, on final inspection you do have a pucker, or gather in your seam, it will probably be because the gathers are not evenly spread around that area or that the seam is not 1.5cm away from the raw edges (both raw edges, keep them together). Unpick that bit of the sleeve, just the few stitches that are necessary to even it out, and very carefully re-stitch that bit.

If you still have the odd teeny, tiny bit of a pucker in your sleeve, don't forget that when you iron this shirt in future you will, no doubt, pucker the fabric a bit at the top of the sleeve anyway....

Et Voila! (That's French for Taa-daa!)

As Diana is less full-bodied than I am, in every sense, this looks a little limp, but hopefully will look rather better on me.

Now for the second sleeve.

That went well (just a small amount of unpicking required....).
That's enough for one day.