The Secret Life of Sleeves

I dug out a project I started in October, Vouge 8804. The material I chose for this project is a super soft wool blend woven into a nice plaid. It’s a sin to make a Claire Shaeffer designed Chanel-esque quilted jacket in anything but tweed or boucle, but I couldn’t resist. I also passed up the braid trim option for a bias tape edging, which I think is less sinful since I made the bias tape out of the super soft and silky fabric I used for the lining. I had finished most of the jacket with only the sleeves left to attach before I put the project on hold, so I used this as an excuse to make a little how-to guide.



Step 1 – Iron the affected area. Especially if the jacket had been living in the bottom of the closet like mine had. Also, because the wool has more of a loose weave to it, the material had a bit of a fraying problem the second it was cut. I gave the armscye some stay stitching to hold down future fraying, and a bit of a haircut before bothering to work with it.

Step 2 – Since this is a quilted jacket, and you have to do the quilting before you sew the sleeve together, and long story short the lining needs to stay out of the way while I do the next bits, so I pinned it out of the way.

Step 3 – Two sets of basting stitches go on the top part of the sleeve next, so you can ease the sleeve into place. Why two rows? I’m not sure, but I always regret it when I only do one row.

Step 4 – With right sides together, start pinning the sleeve in place. It’s always a good idea to check you’ve got your sleeve on the side it goes to at this point. Especially with shaped sleeves or ones with vents.

Step 5 – Baste where all the pins were. At this point, you might as well put on a movie. I put on the sweet sewing inspiration of The Parent Trap (the 1961 version please). Check out this amazing suit!

Step 6- Check the basting, and cry a little when you realize that your plaids don’t quite line up where they should and the gathers are uneven. But this is to be expected, that’s why it’s basting.

Step 7 – Revenge of the Basting. Baste it again. I prefer hand basting these steps because ripping out hand basting is marginally faster, and machine basing just doesn’t understand the lumps and gathers you are trying to navigate.

Step 8 – Baste again, probably.

Step 9 – Give up and blame it on the quilting and non-boucle fabric for the way it bubbles and hangs funny right there. At this point, you can hold on to the hope that with a little ironing and dab of steam shrinking action things will work out in the end.

Step 10 – Stitch it in place for real. I did two times around, but then I left in the basting stitches because again, I’m lazy.

Step 11 – Give the seam a trim and a trip to the iron.

Step 12 – Time to unpin the lining and slip stitch it in place. Now that your movie is probably over, it’s time to do the other sleeve!

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