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Setting in sleeve problem

marthaq | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am making a trench out of a bi-blend fabric (60/40 cotton poly). So far, so good, until I get to setting in the sleeve. The sleeve has too much fabric to fit in the armsyce. I can’t ease any in with the iron before setting in, like I might do with a 100% natural fiber. It is gathered and puckery looking, and I want a smooth join.
Should I:
1) Trim off the sleeve cap slightly to reduce circumference of sleeve?
2) Increase my sleeve seam slightly to reduce circumference of sleeve?
3) Other ideas?

Ever grateful to all you sewers,


  1. dsrtrt2 | | #1

    Check out the Tips & Tricks on Threads.  There is an article on easing a sleeve "like a pro".  It works.

    Good luck!


    1. marthaq | | #2

      Thanks Terry. This was my first approach but the fabric won't ease in smoothly. I need a plan B!

      1. dsrtrt2 | | #3

        You welcome.  I have found that fabrics with less memory take alittle more work to get that smooth sleeve line but it is so worth it when it comes out nice.

        Good luck.


  2. HeartFire2 | | #4

    this is not easy to answer without knowing more info, but, first what you need to do is measure the armhole opening (on the sewing line) and measure the sleeve seam that has to go in it, is there more than 2 inches of ease? you should be able to get 2 inches of ease in without any trouble, If you can't get it all in, the first thing I would try before altering the sleeve cap would be to try and squeeze some of the extra ease in below the dots on the pattern. it generally won't make any difference if you put a little bit of the extra ease down there,

  3. mem | | #5

    you could take little darts out of the pattern between the notches I would start at the shoulder line and see how much you need to take out and then make a new sleeve pattern .

  4. joanfitzu | | #6

    Check the sleeve pattern to the front and back pattern pieces, and see how much you have to ease in. You could let out the side seam of the body and take in the underarm seam of the sleeve, if it is a two piece sleeve take in both seams on the sleeve, it will cut down on how much you have to ease in.

    If you have another sleeve pattern from a jacket or coat that fits and that will work with your trench pattern recut the sleeve cap, just make sure you put the sleeves right sides together and cut them at the same time so you have a right and left sleeve.
    You could make tucks or darts in the sleeves it will change the design of the garment.

    I usually stitch two rows of gathering stitches, one at 6/8", one at 1/2" then when you stitch your 5/8 seam you aren't going over any other stitches. Pull out the 6/8 row after stitching and finish the seam allowance as you want.

    Patterns aren't right all the time and over the years have gotten worse. I don't think the pattern companies test the patterns anymore.

    1. marthaq | | #7

      Thanks so much. My next problem is just finding time!

      1. SAAM | | #8

        When I'm easing a sleeve that is supposed to have a smooth sleeve cap, I use only one line of stitching to ease. I find that when using two rows of stitching, it's much easier to get puckers in your finished seam. I sew my line of ease stitching very close to the stitching line, ease up the fabric, then sew the seam, being careful not to sew over the ease stitching so it's easy to remove.

    2. mem | | #9

      when you take little darts out of the sleeve cap pattern you are actually doing the same you would if using gathering to do the easing. I dont see a problem unless you did it all in one spot .

      1. joanfitzu | | #10

        I was thinking about if she couldn't or didn't recut the sleeve then the darts would change the look.
        You are right if you fold out the darts in the pattern then cut, it is the same as gathering.
        I didn't make myself clear.

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