Oliver + S

Setting in sleeves: a technical question

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    norasroom @norasroom

    This question is mainly for Liesl, but please feel free to chime in! I’ve been sewing lots of sleeves this fall, and noticed that about half call for being set “in the round” (i.e. side seams sewn first) and half are inserted flat (before sewing the side seams). I find the flat method infinitely easier, especially when working on itty-bitty sleeves that don’t fit around my machine’s free arm. Liesl, how do you decide which method to use for a particular pattern? Do you find that one is more comfortable than the other?

    This is mostly idle curiosity, but I did change the order of construction on a school days jacket last night so I could set the sleeves in flat, and I need to know if the sewing police are coming after me.

    April Henry @April1930s

    The sewing police will only come after you if there is that tag somewhere visible… you know, the kind like you see on mattresses and sofa cushions? Yeah. If you don’t see one of those, you *should* be okay. tehehe

    I’m only answering this one because it was a topic of discussion at the Vermont Weekend Sewing. Heather Ross was instructing on how to insert a sleeve – (which you know I love you, Heather – a lot!, but Liesl’s method is… well…. easier – smooches, HR!!)

    I remember Liesl saying (correct me if I’m wrong, Liesl) that one of the main reasons she has you set the sleeve ‘flat’ is simply because of the itty bitty arms on children’s clothing. Adult sleeves are usually set in the round because there is more room to actually get the seam under the needle. My free-arm is very, very tiny so I don’t have an issue usually with setting in the round, but I still prefer the flat if I can do it.

    There may be other technical issues as to why and if there is, Liesl, please teach us. We are your pupils!

    Liesl Gibson

    April explained this perfectly. Thanks, April! The only times I instruct you to set in a sleeve in the round is when something else might intrude–for example, with the Puppet Show Tunic, the cuff on the sleeve makes it tricky to do a flat sleeve. For the coat, I personally prefer to do the sleeves flat, but we decided to do the round version because of the pockets that overlap the side seams and because spacial constraints came into play with the instructions for the insulated vest (if everything was done the same, we didn’t need to give different instructions for the insulated sleeves). But please do it whichever way you prefer–the flat version seems much easier for kids.


    june @june

    I think, in general terms, it depends on the “sleeve cap height”, when it is lower, the look is more casual, and you can sew shoulders first then side seams. When it is higher, the look is more classic, and because of the curved line it is difficult to sew flat.

    About sleeve cap height, this PDF helps. -> http://www.wildginger.com/pdffiles/dfpbook.pdf

    By the way, when I sew itty-bitty armholes and sleeve cuffs, I do not use free-arm but like this (look inside the hole while stitching) -> [figure 13] http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/fcs2/fcs2807/fcs2807.pdf )

    norasroom @norasroom

    Wow, thanks to all for this wealth of information. I knew there had to be a method to the madness!

    Thanks also for the assurance that the sewing police most likely do not have me on their radar.

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