How to Sew a Laced Sleeve
It’s not always what it seems
This straight-laced suit is anything but all-business. From a distance, the ensemble looks like a basic black formal suit. But up close, the fine, soft bouclé fabric is cardigan-comfortable. Its details, perhaps borrowed from the utilitarian garments of the American frontier, include charmeuse laces at the waist and shoulders. The skirt is softly gathered into a yoke waistband and closed with a laced center-front fly to complete the silhouette with a feminine touch. The lacing reappears at each armscye. It gives subtle shaping to the shoulders, introduces an eye-catching textural element, and adds a slight glimmer of light to the light-saturating bouclé. Guided through small, machine-stitched eyelets on either side of the seam or opening, the charmeuse strands are then tied into an elegantly draped bow. Read this article from Threads #151 for instructions on how to apply this lacing detail in your own garments.
The delightful suit shown above uses lacing in a traditional way to close the skirt and in a fool-the-eye way to embellish the sleeve. The sleeve lacing appears to attach the sleeve to the jacket, but it doesn’t. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Purchase or make a smooth, soft lacing. In this case, a slender unfilled georgette bias tube was used, but silk charmeuse fabric works well.
2. Prepare the seam. Ease the sleeve-cap seam as usual. Staystitch along the seamline 2 inches above the front and back notches on the sleeve and armscye. Make a perpendicular clip 1 inch above each notch through the seam allowance just to the staystitching, on the sleeve caps and armscyes. Turn the seam allowance under between the clips, and press along the fold. Turn, and press the armhole seam allowance under between the clips.
3. Mark the eyelets. Abut the sleeve cap with the armscye, aligning the clips, and mark the eyelet placement on both sides of the seam. Position the eyelets opposite each other, so that an imaginary line drawn between the left eyelet and the right eyelet below it crosses the seamline at a 45-degree angle. The eyelets shown are 1⁄2 inch from the fold. Sew an eyelet or a very short buttonhole on each mark through the garment and seam allowance. Lace the sleeve and armscye separately using an oversized whipstitch. Slant the stitches toward the front, and leave a long enough tail for tying later.
4. Machine-stitch the seam under the arm between the notches. Abut the seam edges and hand-sew the laced seam section on the wrong side. Finish the lacing ends by wrapping them tightly with matching thread and knotting it. Tie the lacing ends into a bow.
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