Can you believe we are nearly done with the sewing 101? The last few lessons are pretty key. Sleeves for example, If you are making a top I bet it has sleeves. So let’s talk Shirt sleeves. (we are keeping things basic, like how to sew a sleeve in place, and how to add a gather.)

The basic drafting of a sleeve was shown in the drafting lesson. But let’s say you want to do something different. Like add a gather to the sleeve. You will just change the sleeve curve.

Making the curve higher for example will allow for room for a gather, without adding bulk or width to the sleeve itself. In order to get the “gather” in the sleeve curve you will need the curved edge of the sleeve to be wider in length then the curve for the sleeve opening on the bodice. Another way of adding a gather would be making the whole sleeve wider, since this will make the curve longer as well. (the piece shown will be cut on the fold)

To check your sleeves. After sewing the front and back bodice together at the shoulders (shown above) measure the arm curve. If you wanted a fitted sleeve (no gather) then the sleeve curve (no matter the shape) will have to be the same length as the arm curve. For a gather such as I am doing in this post you will want the sleeve curve to be wider than the arm curve measurement (no matter the shape) Now there are a couple ways of sewing the sleeve in. The one I do the most often is called the shirt sleeve. (basic right?) To prepare setting the sleeve you will need to sew the front and back pieces at the shoulder like shown above.

Then take your sleeve and sew two basting lines along the curve, or sleeve cap. We aren’t going into all the details of where exactly you will gather, the different shapes of the sleeve cap and how all of this will change the fit of the sleeve we are keeping basic here.  (need more help with gathering?)

Pull the thread to gather the sleeve.

Then line the middle of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.

Then pin the rest of the sleeve to fit. Sew the sleeve in place. You can sew a non gathered sleeve the same way you just skip the gathering part.

Then an option is to top stitch along the seam.

Then with right sides together sew from the sleeve end to the armpit and the turn to go down the side.

There you have a lovely little sleeve. You can have with or without the gather.

Now you know how to sew a shirt sleeve. Easy right?