Whether for sweaters, jackets, cardigans or tops for children: sewing on the sleeves is an essential part of work and can present us with one or two hurdles. If the pattern has not been used with the correct seam allowance or the sleeve has not been cut in the same way, it will be almost impossible to sew the sleeve beautifully and evenly.
The length from the shoulder point to the upper arm is usually decisive. This length normally fits perfectly to the sleeve recess of the front and back of the upper part. If you use the wrong or mirror-inverted sleeve, it is accordingly too short or too long and the fabric parts do not fit together.
In today’s beginner’s manual I will show you how to sew in sleeves easily and with a few great tricks.
Material and preparation
The asymmetry of the sleeve
If you take a closer look at your patterns, you will notice that the sleeves folded vertically cannot be symmetrical. This is because the human body does not look the same on the front and back. The back of the sleeve – and then the sleeve neckline – is much longer than the front because the back muscles are wider and rounder. Therefore, it is important to cut the sleeve once “normally” and once mirror-inverted for each project.
TIP: When drawing or cutting the sleeve, you should always transfer the cutting points recorded on the pattern. These can be placed on top of each other when the sleeve is stuck and then sewn on.
In addition, I mark the left and right sleeves with a textile pencil so that I can later sew the right sleeve on the respective side. In addition, the highest shoulder point (normally also drawn in the pattern) is marked.
Correct staking out
Step 1: First, the front and back of the top are put together on the shoulders, right sides together and sewn so that the sleeves can be attached.
The material of the fabric plays an important role when attaching and sewing the sleeves. Jersey fabrics are much easier to work with because they are elastic and stretchy. With other – non-elastic – fabrics, it is much more difficult to get them stuck. It is not possible to readjust or pull them afterwards!
Step 2: Now the shoulder point should be marked and fixed. Normally the highest shoulder point is drawn in the pattern and can be transferred to the fabric.
Fix this point directly to the seam between the front and back of your top.
Step 3: Next, fix the two points at the bottom of the sleeve so that the fabric is not too long or too short later. It is always a bit difficult to fix the sleeves, because two opposite curves have to be fixed.
Now you can fix the remaining points along the sleeve cutout.
sew in sleeves
Step 1: After the sleeve has been stuck, it can now be sewn on. Use either the overlock or the zigzag stitch of the sewing machine to obtain an elastic seam.
TIP: Sew on the sleeve very slowly. It is best to pluck the fabric a little at a time so that the edges of the fabric are always perfectly aligned. Since the sleeve consists of two opposite curves, the fabric can still warp sometimes when sewing. Plucking prevents the edges from “disappearing” just before the presser foot.
Step 2: The seams should now look as follows.
Next, pin the sleeves lengthwise and the sides of the top. Here again you first pin the seams under the arm. When sewing the two seams should be as close as possible to each other!
You can then pin the remaining dots and sew them together with the sewing machine or your overlock. Now turn the top piece outwards to the right side of the fabric.
I hope our instructions will help you sew your next sleeve. Have fun sewing!