Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Attaching sleeves

peanutts | Posted in General Sewing Info on


i am a beginer in sewing, and am in love with my new found hobby,  i especially love creating clothes for my neices . but i have this major problem. Its attaching sleeves. I have bought every book about sewing but still dont seem toget the hang of it!!!!

Any tips ?


  1. Deborah79 | | #1

    Be sure and sew your two gathering stitches on the sleeve top, one on the 5/8" line and one at 3/8" from sleeve edge.  Easing the gathers to avoid puckers is the key.  Be sure you pin your seams, side markings and top seam, then gather the fullness in.  Then sew on the 5/8" gather stitching.  Try placing the sleeve into the gament and working with the right sides together. I hope this helps.  

    Good Luck,  Deborah

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #2

    I have done and re-done hundreds of sleeves!  What is the nature of your difficulty?

    Try sewing the sleeve to the bodice before sewing the side seams of bodice and sleeve, the whole mess is a little flatter and easier to handle.

    If the sleeve head is gathered, use two rows of gathering stitches, stitched in the same direction and "parallel" (if that term can be applied to two curved lines!!)

    I have grandchildren to clothe; it is so much fun!

    Hope this helps,


  3. From my Stash.... | | #3



    I agree with Peanutts79's response. I would add two things:

    1) When gathering and placing the sleeve into the bodice, make sure that the matching dot at the sleeve seam matches the dot on the bodice and the larger matching mark at the top of the sleeve matches the shoulder seam. If these two are in the proper place, then the amount of ease that you build in on either side of the shoulder seam should come with practice.

    2) If you get a chance to pick up a copy of Sandra Betzina's DVD "Anatomy of a Jacket", she covers sleeve heads on jackets but also includes a very short lesson on blouse or dress sleeve heads that I hadn't encountered before. If I remember correctly, she places her finger behind the presser foot and as a result, the fabric bunches up between the foot and her finger. She will do this twice for the sleeve head and then presses the sleeve head over a ham to retain the gentle easing.  This might work for your niece's dresses.

    Good luck, 

    1. edgy | | #4

      If you're having trouble making the gatherings "disappear", don't use the Betzina technique. That one lets the machine make the easing decisions. I prefer to make those decisions myself.One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is to hand-baste it after pinning. If you've got it good w some very small basting stitches, then go slowly on the machine. That should do it. And if you have to take out a tiny bit, it's not the end of the world.nancy

  4. mem | | #5

    hello , I agree with all the others but the most important thing is to use the notches in the front and back sleeves to and dot marking the shoulder line and the match the side seams Pin them all matching all the marks and then draw up the gathering threads . Spread the gathers evenly and the baste it all together. Try it on and make sure that the shoulder is the right lengthand that thye shoulder point on the sleeve IS over the tip of the wearers shoulder. also  that the sleeve hangs with the grain line vertical to the floor. THEN sew it with the machine I always sew with the gathered side up so that I can control the gathers and keep them from getting caught in the seam line . Hasten slowly as a badly sewn in sleeve is a VERY bad look.

  5. carolfresia | | #6

    Here are a couple of other tips:

    1. If it's appropriate for the garment, consider cutting the seam allowances down to 1/4 or 3/8 inch wide. It's a lot easier to ease a narrower seam allowance. This isn't something you should do, probably, for a garment that needs the wider seam allowance to support the sleeve cap, but should be OK for casual tops and blouses, especially in lightweight fabrics.

    2. If you accidentally (of course accidentally--you wouldn't do this on purpose!) sew a pucker into the seam, don't pick out the entire sleeve seam. Just remove the stitches at the pucker and for about 1/2-1 inch on either side. Restitch that bit of seam.

    3. Setting sleeves in flat--before the side and sleeve seams are stitched--is easier in many cases, as another poster mentioned. However, in some cases I think the sleeve hangs better if it's set in with those seams sewn. So I compromise: I sew from notch to notch on the sleeve cap with the garment flat, then stitch the side seam and sleeve seam, and set the rest of the sleeve in "in the round."

    4. Experiment with stitching sleeve side up and sleeve side down. Some people like to let the feed dogs help ease in the sleeve, by stitching with the sleeve underneath and the garment on top. Others prefer to keep the sleeve up, so they can use their fingertips to finesse the seamline as it moves toward the needle. This is definitely a matter of personal preference and experience. Over time you'll figure out which way works best for you.


  6. PASDENOM | | #7

    I also hand baste, for better control of the gathers. I steam shape the sleeve head and lightly press the gathers and stay stitch them before trying to baste the sleeve into place. They will hold still a little more this way and not shift around while you're sewing the seam.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All