Hiya OAL-gers! Today we are going to attach our sleeves and/or finish our arm hole edges with bias facing (depending on which version of the bodice you are sewing). Again, this is a long, picture-heavy post, so sorry! I will be covering my favorite way to sew bias facing (as I mentioned in my silk cherry Vogue 1395 post last week), so you may want to check this out even if you’re not sewing along with us 🙂
For the version with sleeves, read on!
Now you are going to sew two lines of basting stitches. The first line of stitching is along the curve of the sleeve cap, starting at one set of notches and ending at the opposite set, at exactly 5/8″ from the raw edge*. Leave long thread tails. This basting will be used to ease the sleeve into the arm hole. The second line of stitching is along the hem edge of the sleeve, from end to end, at 5/8″ as well. This basting will be used to hem the sleeve. You can leave it off if you feel confident in your sleeve-hemming skills, though!
* Note: Lots of people like to ease their sleeves in with two lines of basting, at 5/8″ and 1/2″. You are more than welcome to do that if that’s your jam, but I’ve found that I get much more gentle easing with less puckering if I use one line at 5/8″. Totally up to you!
To hem the sleeve, first fold up the bottom edge 1/4″ and press. Fold up the remaining hem allowance, exactly along the line of basting stitches that you created, and press again. All raw edges should be encased inside the hem at this point.
Time to stick that shit in the arm hole! Starting at the bottom, match up the side seam with the underarm seam, and match the notches. Match the dashed line at the sleeve cap (the one that both pleats are folded to) to the shoulder seam. Your sleeve will be obviously too big for the arm hole, that’s fine, we are going to fix that.
Very gently pull the line of basting stitches, easing the sleeve excess to fit the arm hole. We don’t want to create big gathers here – we just want the sleeve to be a little smaller so it fits smoothly. Once you’ve got the sleeve eased in, pin everything into place.
* Note: Easing sleeves can be a little difficult! These sleeves will ease in smoothly, but if you are having problems with puckers, you may want to open up your pleats at the top of the sleeve and make them a little bit deeper. That’ll use up some of the excess ease 🙂 Don’t go too crazy with that, though, as you do need a little bit of easing so the sleeve has a pretty curve and enables you to move your arms around and all that.
Now you can sew the sleeve in! Sew exactly along the 5/8″ line of basting, being careful to make sure there are no puckers or gathers and that your sleeve in eased in smoothly. I like to sew my sleeves in with the gathered side facing up – that way, I can periodically lower my needle, raise the presser foot, and adjust the easing as I go.
Once you’ve got the sleeve sewn in, double check both sides to be sure that there is no gathering or puckering. Your sleeve will probably have a bunch of excess at the seam allowance like I have here – that’s fine! As long as it’s smooth at the stitching line 🙂 Now go ahead and finish your seams.
* Note: The instructions tell you to sew a second line of stitching right by the first one. Honestly, I’ve never done this before – even before I had a serger – and I’ve never caused a Sewing Apocalypse, so take that as you will.
For the sleeveless, read on for the bias facing tutorial!
The first thing we want to do is remove some of the seam allowance from the arm hole of our bodices. This bodice is designed to be sewn with a 5/8″ seam allowance, and we will be attaching our bias strips at 1/4″. So you’ll want to shave off about 3/8″ from the entire circumference of the arm hole.
Next, we are going to cut bias strips from our fashion fabric (or cool contrasty fabric, if you want!). There are lots of tutorials on how to do this; I am just showing you my preferred method 🙂 Start with a piece of fabric that has two straight edges at a right angle. For the cross grain, you can just rip your fabric, which will give you a perfect straight edge without cutting.
Fold the ripped edge up to meet the top straight edge, thus forming a diagonal line. Cut along the diagonal line (you may want to gently press first, if you need a guideline); you have just created a bias edge.
Now cut two strips on the diagonal/bias – 1″ wide and the length of your arm hole measurement. I like to draw my lines with chalk and cut with scissors; you can also use a ruler and rotary cutter if that’s your jam.
Next, we want to make sure the facing will fit inside the arm hole before we actually sew it in. *Generally* speaking, most bias facing is fine at 1/2″ shorter than the measurement of what it’s being sewn into (which is why we cut our strips at the measurement of the arm hole – 1/4″ seam allowance x2 = 1/2″), but some stretchier fabrics – such as my rayon challis – require a shorter bias strip. So we are going to check that measurement now. This pinning/sectioning also makes it easier to sew the bias strips in if you’re a newb.
Anyway, section your arm hole and bias strips into 4 equal sections, and mark with pins.
Pin the bias facing to the arm hole, starting with the seam matching the side seam, with right sides together (so your bias facing is on the outside of the garment). Match each section, so your bias facing is pinned at 4 points. From there, check one section and see if the facing is short enough for the arm hole – you just need to be able to gently stretch it to match the length of the bodice arm hole (gently, I say! We are not sewing ribbing onto tshirts here!). If it’s too long, pull it out and shorten the bias strip accordingly, then repin. I had to shorten mine by another 1/2″ to get it to fit.
* Note: If you want your bias facing on the OUTSIDE of your garment (again, cool contrasty thing), you will need to pin it to the inside of the arm hole.
Once your facing is the correct length and pinned into place, sew it down with a 1/4″ seam allowance, catching the edges of the bodice facing in your stitching as you come across them. Again, the bias facing needs to be on the outside of the garment, right sides together.
Now topstitch your facing to the arm hole, about 1/8″ from the fold. Try to keep your stitching line consistently spaced, as this will show on the outside of your garment. You may need to gently stretch the binding as you sew the curves. Alternately, you can slipstitch this binding if you don’t want the stitching to show on the outside, but I’ve found that works best if you have underlining to sew it to (otherwise you may have little thread puckers).
And that’s it! A gorgeous bias facing that doesn’t require using a fiddly tool (man, those things can be obnoxious). I LOVE this method and I find it much easier than any other binding method I’ve used before. This works for both necklines and arm holes, and can be done either flat or in-the-round as I demonstrated.
Phew! That’s all for this week! As always, let me know if you have any questions 🙂