How do you set in a sleeve?
This is the way I attach sleeves for a set-in sleeve style. Now I am not a tutorial kind of gal, but this is one case where the pattern instructions are not the best way of doing it.
So, for the benefit of my fellow domestic seamstresses who have ever sworn and cursed over a puckered sleeve head, here it is:
Mark all notches on sleeve and shoulder as per pattern pieces. I nick in with the scissors just a few millimetres deep. The most important notch is the top of the sleeve head, shown below. That must match the shoulder seam otherwise you run the risk of puckers gallore.
Now match all other notches, the 'waves' inbetween is the fullness to be eased in. You are going to be sewing on the inside of the sleeve. Put the pins in the direction of sewing with the heads facing as you sew so that you can easily pull them out.
Pin the whole sleeve head, pins cheek to jowl, as it were. The pins are helping you manage the ease. If you can't make the seam sit flat with the pins, you're going to have a hard time sewing it later. Notice that we are matching seam allowances, not edges. The edges will, in fact, should, be wavy.
The whole thing is now pinned ready to go. We are going to slide this into the machine with the inside up, and the outside next to the feeddog. That is because we need to use our fingers to manage the ease of the sleeve cap.
Now start sewing, starting at the bottom of the sleeve. If you machine has needle down position, switch it on. Placing your hands either side of the fabric, start feeding it though, using your fingers to guide and smooth where necessary. As we sew, we are looking for that "straight line" we created with the pins, where the seam allowances of the sleeve and shoulder meet.
We are looking to "follow that straight ol' line." See how the edges wave, but there is a patch of clear waters to sew along?
As you head towards the back of the shoulder, the amount to ease in will increase. It may be necessary sometimes to stop, lift the presser foot with the needle in the down position and push some of the ease back past the needle with your fingers.
Eh voila! We have it. Our sleeve is now set in. Trim threads and ease out any wrinkles with a steam iron. Push seam allowances towards the sleeve to help support the sleeve head.
It's not hard. A little fiddly, but not hard. It produces far superior results than using the more traditional gathering threads, so it's worth mastering!
Carol Mill, Palmer/Pletsch instructor, told me not to use gathering threads but to pinch and squeeze the fabric through using my fingers.
The instruction to sew on the inside of the sleeve from the bottom up and to push the seam allowance into the sleeve head comes from "Palmer/Pletsch Jackets for Real People."