1930s Sew-along with Norma: Reinforced Belt

Introduction

Since I put so much hand sewing into my dress for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma, I decided that the belt would be completely handmade.  It offered the opportunity for me to try fell stitching as well as get creative with the belt making process

Challenges

The fashion fabric is a very busy print consisting of tiny orange, red and yellow flowers and buds with spring green leaves and stems against a slightly cream colored background.  All details such as the darts, hand sewn bias bound neckline and sleeve finishings are not discernible.  It was important that the belt work with the print and provide a striking contrast.

With the help of RetroGlam readers I chose a lightweight silky fabric in a green that pulled the total look together.  The thin fabric needed some extra weight to support the belting material and the buckle.  This was challenge number 1:  selecting the kind of belting I wanted and the underlining for the silky fabric.

Traditional belting is too stiff to permit sewing snaps onto.  I decided to forego eyelets and a buckle with a prong because these would look too harsh with the dress whether they were in gold or silver.  I needed a buckle without a prong and a backing that was supple enough and lightweight enough to encircle the waist and permit sewing on of snaps.   So here was challenge number 2.

Challenge number 3 knocked all my plans into disarray when I found that the green fabric had numerous little spots that would not go away when I washed the fabric for a second time.  I can only think that these spots were caused by perfume I’d spritzed over myself while the fabric was air drying on a rack in the bath tub.  Lesson learned:  once fashion fabrics are no longer dripping move the drying rack out of the tub and into the entrance way.  Never spray perfume, hair spray, air freshener, etc. if clothing or fabric is hanging or drying nearby.  Since I live in a small apartment in a crowded urban setting there’s no way to air dry clothes outdoors or in a separate laundry room.

I’d only bought 1 yard of the green fabric and to my dismay it got spotted along both sides of the selvedges which was important since the selvedge would provide the finish for the underside of the belt.  I found a part of the fabric without any spots at all but it was all on the cross grain for about 12 inches in length.  This meant I’d be working against the instructions for making the belt and also have a less than satisfactory result.  I decided to accept what I had available and improvise the rest.  What you see in this tutorial is an example of making do.  Since this is a 1930s sew-along I like to think this is in the spirit of resourcefulness sewistas had to cultivate during the economic difficulties of The Great Depression.

Source of Instructions

I adapted the reinforced belt making instructions from page 250 of  Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, Seventh Printing, July 1980.

Source for Belt Buckle

Another difficulty of working with the green fabric was that it did not take kindly to the fabric glue used in belt making kits for adhering the fabric to the buckle.  I was able to find an artisan on Etsy who makes various kinds of fabric covered belts and buckles.  Michelle Tan uses a special pressing machine that folds the fabric around the buckle in a way so that it is much stronger and well finished than buckles made from kits that use glue.  Please take a look at her cute buttons and other notions.

Non-traditional belting considerations

I wasn’t sure of which fabric to use.  I first bought a length of crinoline which provided body but not enough to be flexible around the waist.  I then tried a heavy linen type fabric but that was too soft.  I got the bright idea of using Ban-Roll waistbanding since it does not crush and hugs the waist just right–when used in a skirt.

I now had the makings of challenge number 4:  I learned why the product is called Ban-Roll.  It likes to roll and encircle the waist.  It requires a gentle steaming with a press cloth and iron after staying on the dress form for longer than a few minutes.

All these shortcomings aside–I love the new belt.  I have hopes that when I make the next one correctly it will far exceed what turned out this time.

Making a Reinforced Belt When Forced to Cut on the Crosswise Grain

The crosswise grain is weaker and does not favor waistbands with backing.  I think for a self-tie belt it will work ok.  I also learned that for Pussycat Bows you can use it as well, just so long as you don’t mind a bow that lacks the loft of a bias cut bow.

Basic measurements of the piece you will cut for belt fabric:

Width-2 times the width of the belt + 1/2″

Length-waist circumference + 8″

The extra 1/2″ should be measured up from the selvedge

For belting material:

Length of belting=Waist circumference + 7″

Pattern and belt making instructions I used as a starting point.

1a.  Supplies I used:  Banroll cut with a point at one end, hand sewing needles/#6 Betweens, micro tweezers to remove basting threads, mini scissor, dryer sheet as thread conditioner, cotton basting thread, poly/cotton sewing thread, glass head straight pins, artisan made fabric covered buckle; belt fabric and cotton/poly underlining.

1a.  The green fabric shredded which necessitated me pinking the edges.  As a result I had less than the 1/2″ extra that was needed for the belt.  I compensated by using lace hem tape to cover up the edge that would finish the belt on the inside.  This function is fulfilled when the fabric is cut on the lengthwise grain along the selvedge.

The underlining was pinned in place and secured to the fabric using small running stitches with a double strand of thread.  I had to do this to provide strength for the construction.

The lace was sewn over the edge using a double strand of sewing thread  I used tiny running stitches for the flexibility they offer.

The fabric was folded right sides together and stitched along the short side 1/2″ in from the edge.

I folded it to create the arrowhead shape shown in the photo.  Then this was turned right side out.  A press cloth was placed over the fabric before it was steam pressed.

2.  View of the wrong side of the belt before turning the point right side out.

3.   Belting or substitute is inserted into the fabric point matching the point of the belting to the point of the fabric.  The unfinished side (or side without selvedge) is pinned in place.  I then basted it in place since I do not like sewing with pins in the fabric.

4. After this the finished edge of the belt (or selvedge) is turned up and pinned over the unfinished edge.  The fabric proved slippery and I had to tweak the position of the seam and the folds before pinning.  Then this was basted into place.

To secure the edge into place I used a fell stitch which I ended up disliking but left in place.  I plan to use tiny catch stitches the next time.

5.  After the hand sewing is finished, the raw edge is wrapped around the buckle, folded once and slip stitched into place.

Then the upper part of the snap was sewn onto the belt near the point.

With the garment on the dress form, I next placed the belt on to find where I needed to place the snaps.  I rubbed some Tailor’s Chalk onto the snap and then pressed against the belt.  The white dot is a chalk mark that tells me where to sew the lower part of the snap.

6.  The lower part of the snap is pinned and sewn into place.

7.  My label and the size of the belt are sewn in near the buckle.  I like the way the catch stitch looks here.  Since a belt made from Ban-Roll loves to curl I found that the fabric had a tendency to look a little rippled afterwards.  I attribute this to the cross grain.

I made a thread loop to use so that the belt can be stored on a hanger when not in use.

The finished belt was pressed using a press cloth over it.  The iron was held above the press cloth and never placed directly on it.

8.  Belt was then hung up to dry after all that steam pressing.

 

9.  Close-ups of completed belt.

The dress and belt will be photographed next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Covered and Underlined Buttons

Introduction

I’m now at the part I love about dressmaking–considering and making the finishing touches.  For my dress created during the 1930s Sew-along with Norma those finishing touches will be a belt and fabric covered buttons.  The green fabric I chose works well with the floral print of the dress and provides just the right contrast.  I started with the buttons first and will share what I learned in the form of a tutorial.

Planning for the buttons

Fabric covered buttons are made using a brass top and bottom designed to grip, hold and cover the fabric that is shaped around the top of the button.  On the inside of the top portion of the button are little teeth against which you mold and press the fabric so that the teeth grip and hold it securely.  When that is finished the bottom portion is snapped into place.

The fabric I am using is very lightweight and has a slight sheen.  As a result, the metallic gleam of the button shows through the fabric making it even more shiny.  I needed to underline the button fabric, so to speak, to prevent the shine from happening.  It is very important that the buttons have a matte look about them so that they stay in keeping with the dress fabric.

At first I thought a poly-china silk would work but it proved of no use in hiding the shine from the brass of the button top.  So I next tried a very lightweight cotton interfacing.  This solved the problem very well.  I was now ready to cover the buttons.

Fabric Covered Buttons with Underlining

1.  The underlining and button cover fabric is trued and steam pressed.  To keep things simple I pinned the fabric together at regular intervals so that it would not move when marked and cut.

2.   Here is a close-up of the button tops and bottoms.

3.   On the back of the package is a round button pattern.  This is to be cut out for use in marking the fabric that will cover your buttons.

4.   Another close-up of the buttons.  On the top at the left is the inside of the button top and to the upper right is the inside view of the cover.  In the front to the left is the right side of the top of the button and to the right is the outer part of the bottom of the button.

5.   I was interrupted when tracing the pattern onto the fabric so I will explain how I obtained what you see in the photo above.

a.   The fabric was pinned as shown in Step 1.

b.   I used a very sharp piece of new Tailor’s Chalk that I broke in half so that it would be very easy to handle.

c.   The cardboard circle (Button Pattern) was carefully held in place while I used the piece of chalk to trace the shape.

d.   A very sharp straight pin was used to hold the underlining and cover fabric together.  I continued in this manner until I had 10 pinned circles ready to cut.

e.   I used a small Fiskars Craft Scissors to cut out the circles.

6.   Since I could not cover the buttons at this point I put all the cut circles into a little box along with the button tops and bottoms.  I removed the pins so as not to have marks left in the fabric.

 

7.  When I was ready to start covering the buttons I stitched the fabric and underlining together at the outer edges using a conditioned, double strand of cotton thread passed through a #6 hand sewing sharp needle.  Cotton is much stronger and less likely to knot the way a polyester thread would.  The thread should have a 1/2″ tail after a double knot.  Use tiny running stitches all around.  At the end cut another tail about 1″ long but do not knot.

 

8.   Gather up the circle by pulling on both tails of the thread.  Put the top of the button inside and then gently draw the thread around the button top until it is covered.

9.   Coax the fabric onto the teeth on the inside of the button top.  The instructions on the package recommended using an eraser but I do not think that is wise.  A micro tweezer or crochet hook is a better choice since you cannot mark up your fabric with it.  Once the fabric is securely in place, gather the fabric as much as possible, then trim the tail.  It is not necessary to make a knot.

 

10.  Top of the button after the fabric has been smoothed out an before the tail of the thread was cut.

11.   Now it is time to snap the back of the button into place.

12.  To ensure the back is securely in place I press own with the top of a spool of thread that fits over the back of the button.

13.  The process is now completed.  The top of the button will look like this.

14.  And the bottom will look like this.  (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

15.  I now have to determine how much space is needed between each button and then they will be sewn onto each sleeve.

 

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Rayon Faille and Bias Seams

Introduction

Here’s my update on the 1930s Sew-along with Norma.

The flounce for my 1930s inspired dress was cut with the center front on the lengthwise grain.  The flounce is a semi-circular shape with side seams falling on the bias.  The fabric I’m using is rayon faille.  It has a lovely drape and feels very light next to the skin.  It is not slippery but very shifty.  And since the side seam of the flounce is on the bias, this part of the construction required some thought and adaptation of familiar techniques.

What I show here is a solution I came up with based mostly on the needs of the fabric.  The purpose is to encourage you to take those techniques you know and, when required, use them as a starting point to your own solution to a sewing challenge.  It’s impossible to always find an answer in a book since the combination of styles, fabrics, sewing machines and time available vary from one sewista to another.  This is why creative thinking is a good thing.  Books are there to guide us but it is experience that is our greatest teacher.

Basting the side seams of the flounce

In Couture Sewing Techniques , Claire Schaeffer writes about a basting method used in couture sewing called lap basting.  It is used when sewing a bias seam and permits the grain to settle when the garment is hung on the dress form for a few days before sewing.  I used this technique when sewing a denim circle skirt and it worked out perfectly.  The basting was one as described by Claire:  I used a single strand of conditioned thread that was knotted and had a 2″ more or less, tail of thread behind it.  With this I basted from the top down for about 6″ more or less.  Then I cut this length of threa leaving another 2″ tail.  Another length of conditioned basting thread was used and a new row of basting stitches continued where the other left off.  This new row of stitches started slightly above the previous.  From there it continued down about 6″.  Then it was cut and the process repeated.  The only knot was in the first length of thead starting from the top.

The cotton denim skirt then hung on the dress for for a few days.  The threads permitted gravity to pull the fabric down as the grain settled.

I tried lap basting on a scrap of rayon faille only to find it did not hold the fabric well enough to prevent shifting when I machine stitched it.  Since the side seam is on the bias I did not want to use tear away or even water soluble stabilizer.  When sewing on the bias I find less is more.  I decided to do something different which I’ll show in the photos that follow.

Basting rayon faille when the seam is on the bias

I’m using a scrap of muslin since the print of the dress fabric prevents the basting stitches from showing up.  I use two different sizes of hand sewing needles.  To condition the basting thread I used a new dryer softener sheet.  My advice is to change the dryer sheets often and avoid using ones you’ve already put into the dryer.  I find them to have no conditioning and softening effect on the thread.

The solution I came up with was to baste two parallel rows of basting stitches next to the seam line of the side seams.  One length of stitches was longer, for which I used the #8 Sharps.  The second row consisted of smaller stitches which filled in the spaces between the longer basting stitches.  For the smaller stitches I used the #6 Between hand sewing needles.

I’ve learned that rayon faille response better to a double strand of basting thread.  The seam remains stable enough to sew without the need for a stabilizer.  In the photo above you can see the lap basting on the top.  Below that is the solution I used to baste the side seams of the flounce.  The knot at the start of the line of stitches  worked out very well since the top remained stable and the stitches after it did not come undone.

When machine sewing, I used a medium stitch length and stretched the side seam only a little.  None of the basting threads broke and the seam did not pucker when the basting stitches were removed.  After pressing the seam was flat.

Finishing a side seam on a bias flounce for any fabric

My sewing teacher taught me a way to stabilize the side seams of a bias cut skirt or flounce.  This will lessen the tendency of a bias cut seam to continue to stretch even after the garment is finished.  We used cotton twill tape that was washed and then steam pressed while damp.  When the tape was dry it was catch stitched to just the seam.

Cotton twill tape is too weighty for rayon faille.  I went into the stash I keep of different hem tapes and trims.  This 1″ wide piece of lace was just right.  After pre-shrinking I catch stitched it to the side seams of the flounce.

I then pinked the edges of the flounce to keep them from fraying.  Since the bias is very tricky to handle I believe this was enough of a finish.

Once the flounce is sewn in I will photograph the way the flounce and bodice side seams hang so you can understand the reasons why these different finishings were applied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Success! We have a sleeve with a vertical dart at last!

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Norma, Carol, Naomi and my other blog readers for your ongoing support.  Thanks to all the encouragement through my flops with drafting this sleeve.  You gave me the drive to keep going.  I’m am so happy to say that not only has the latest version of this sleeve succeeded but I also know where I went wrong.  What follows is the process of evaluation I went through.  At the end is a brief tutorial on how to create this sleeve from an existing pattern for a sleeve with an elbow dart.  I did not take photos of the process but I will upload a photo of what my finished pattern piece looks like as soon as I can.

Special Shout-Out

Norma, for getting this project going.

Carol, for the many scans of vintage pattern drafting instructions at the start of this project.

Every bit of info has helped from you and the readers.

Photos of the Half-muslin of the successfully completed sleeve

I used a half-toile since the bodice, neckline and flares have worked out in earlier versions of the toile.  The sleeve was all I needed to focus on now.

 

 

 

This ongoing loop of working with fitted sleeves raised my awareness of many points I had forgotten about.  This is because we tend to use unfitted sleeves so much more in modern sewing.  Points I realized are:

1.  Sleeves with vertical and horizontal darts will run straight on the lengthwise grain until the point at which the dart is placed.

2.  From the dart and downward, the lengthwise grain line shifts slightly towards the front.

3.  Above the elbow, the horizontal grain lines at elbow and cap level will run round the sleeve and remain parallel to the floor.

4.  This sleeve keeps the sleeve seam at the same point as the bodice side seam.

Why a sleeve with a vertical elbow dart?

Such a sleeve was used in some of the 1930s dresses I studied prior to drafting my pattern.  I was especially attracted to the contouring of this sleeve in Margaret Ralston’s book “Dress Cutting by the Block Pattern System”.  She recommends placing the seam of the sleeve 3/4″ to the front of the bodice side seam.  I took note of that.

This sleeve has a very old fashioned look to it.  But the main reason why I have wanted to persevere with this patternmaking exercise is because this sleeve is the basis for two variations I think are very elegant.

One variation is the sleeve that comes to a point over the wrist and right above the middle finger.  This is such a romantic and 1940-ish kind of sleeve.  I think with a few other details it could be the focal point of an elegant evening gown or day dress.

The second variation I really love is one where the dart is changed into an opening consisting of numerous ball buttons on one side and fabric loops for closure on the other side.  The possibilities to make the buttons a statement are endless.  Rhinestones, crystals, vintage Czech glass buttons, Lucite, pearl and so many more.

So with these visions dancing in my mind I continued to deal with several versions of the sleeve that did not work out.

Analyzing the problems and failures

Ralston’s recommendation to shift the sleeve seam 3/4″ to the front of the bodice side seam threw everything off.  The vertical grain at biceps and elbow level were not parallel to the floor.  The sleeve looked like it had swung around the armscye a few times and randomly settled into a position I’ve never seen on a sleeve before!

Another version of the sleeve with the sleeve seam matching the bodice side seam fared no better.  This time the cap had too much ease to deal with as well.  The vertical grain lines were not as off but the sleeve cap itself was a mess.

Alterations to reduce the cap width made for complications elsewhere in the sleeve.  As many of you know a big alteration in one part of a pattern piece always affects other parts of that piece and often other pattern pieces as well.

So I knew something was wrong with the pattern all the way from the start.  The starting point and origination is the basic sleeve draft.  That works up to the fitted sleeve with elbow dart.  From the elbow dart is derived the sleeve with vertical dart.

So I started going back to the beginning of the project.

The source of all the problems:  Too much style ease resulting in too much cap ease

The original dress I based my pattern on was a chemise with set-in sleeves, a low neckline and no closure.  Based on the illustrations only I assumed the dress was a pull-over.  Even the pattern instructions in the book the illustration came from “Paris Frocks at Home”, did not show any side snap closure.

I thought 4″ of style ease would create a roomy dress.  It did but the width was too much around the biceps level.  This resulted in a very wide sleeve cap that had almost 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ inches.  The alteration to reduce the cap width did not help.  It threw the sleeve off an resulted in the strange hang once it was in the armhole.

Things improved when I realized that a pull-over dress in a woven fabric is difficult to achieve when there are set in sleeves.  I think short kimono sleeves and a roomier kind of shape is better and more comfortable.  I’m thinking of the blouson type of dress with an elastic waistline, low U-shape neckline and short kimono or short dolman sleeves.

I decided to make an adaptation of the dress instead of sticking to a purely 1930s approach by foregoing the center back zipper. Changing the dress to one with a center back zipper meant I didn’t have to add so much style ease.   This freed me up to use the standard 3″ of style ease which always provides a good fit and comfort for smaller Misses sizes and Junior sizes.

With just three inches of ease at the biceps level the excess cap ease was just 5/8″.  I made the adjustments to the sleeve by moving the lengthwise grain line where needed.  This resulted in the balanced sleeve you see in the photos of this posting.

Tutorial:  How to create your own fitted sleeve with vertical dart

It is essential to have as the basis a fitted sleeve with horizontal elbow dart that fits you very well and is comfortable.  The bodice is best from the same pattern that uses this sleeve.  If you’re going to use pieces of different patterns do a good review of the measurements of the arm holes and the sleeve cap to make sure things will balance and the ease will be correct.

Once you have such a fitted sleeve with horizontal elbow dart proceed as described.

  1.  Trace your pattern without any seam lines.  You can add these later.  I find it makes for easier cutting.
  2.  Transfer all grain lines and markings and the dart.
  3.  Measure the curve of the wrist from back to front side seam.
  4.  Divide this measurement by 3.  Note the amount.
  5.  From the side seam of the back of the sleeve measure along the wrist the amount derived in Step 4.  Mark with a dot.
  6. Draw a line from the apex point of the elbow dart down to this dot.  It might be slanted.  That is ok.
  7. Cut open the vertical line.
  8. Cut the lower dart leg and close the horizontal dart.  The vertical dart will open.  Fill the space with paper and mark the dart legs.
  9. Lower the apex of the vertical dart about 1″.  Redraw the dart legs.
  10. The seam of the back part of the sleeve will need to be evened out above, below and at the point of the pattern where the horizontal elbow dart was.  The shape will be slightly curved.  This part of the sleeve will be eased into the front part that is straighter.
  11. You can use a curved ruler if you want to make the dart legs slightly curved if you want.  The outward curves can make the dart look like a wishbone.  The curve should just be slightly outward midway at the dart leg but end right where it should at the wrist.  Do not make the dart wider.
  12. After stitching the dart, run a second line of straight stitches 1/4″ above the dart leg.  Then trim and steam press towards the center.
  13. A tailor’s ham is very helpful when pressing the dart.

 

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Preparations (part one)

Now that I have the neckline finish mapped out, the next step if finalizing the sleeve.  I’ve drafted a sleeve with elbow dart that worked our perfectly.  It is the back-up plan in case my last effort at the fitted sleeve with vertical dart fails.  Then onto the sewing–finally!

I’m still considering if the Dritz nylon stay tape is right for the rayon challis fashion fabric.  I may need something with a little more support in it.  So I’ll experiment on some scraps using organza or light weight muslin as a stabilizing strip along the neckline.

It’s always good to read up on the type of fabric one will use before cutting and sewing.  Even though I have reference books I check online sources, too.  Here’s one you might find useful should you try sewing with rayon challis:

 

Free downloadable fact sheet:  Sewing with Rayon Challis

“Sewing with Rayon Challis”
by Rose Marie Tondl, Extension Clothing Specialist
Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

URL:  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2142&context=extensionhist

Concise summary on supplies and finishes that work best with Rayon Challis.

 

The Dressmaker’s Library: Vintage books on-line

I’ve just discovered two on-line vintage books  you’re sure to enjoy browsing through.  They are complete and available for viewing.  You’re able to print one page at a time but not download the entire book.

“The Mary Brooks Picken Method of Modern Dressmaking” by Mary Brooks Pickens was published in 1925.  Many of the new techniques Mary promotes are now very familiar to the home sewist.  What I found interesting were the chapters dealing with figure types and standard measurements.  The average measurements give some indication that women did have curves and were not at all the wispy, tubular shaped girls we  imagine when we think of the 1920s.  There are many photos of garments, seam finishes and Mary at her sewing machine.

Use this link to get to the on-line book:
http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=hearth;cc=hearth;idno=4116088;node=4116088%3A4;view=toc;frm=frameset

“Pattern Drafting, Pattern Grading, Garment Making, Garment Fitting” was written by a professional tailor named Edmund Gurney.  He teaches a method of pattern drafting using standard measurements.  This is done to keep the drafting, as he says, simple.  A method for adjusting the resulting pattern to your own measurements is provided.

Mr. Gurney must have had what I’d consider a sparkling personality.  He intersperses pages of poetry and witty quotes between the technical chapters.  He does draw the reader in.  I especially liked his family history and how one of the earliest ancestors became a tailor.

This book was published in 1939.  The basic shell has the beginnings of what we see as the fitting shell used today.  The main difference I see is that the 1939 fitting shell had an A-line type of skirt.  Today ours is closer to a pencil skirt.

This book is available at:  https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924003596545;view=1up;seq=1

1930s Sew-along with Norma: Draping a sleeve–an adventure into the unknown

Introduction

Greetings to Norma of SheSewsYouKnow and all followers of the 1930s Sew-Along. This was a week of many developments and I’m happy to say the drape is completed. The next step will be trueing the seams and working on any adjustments the sleeve cap will need.

I actually completed draping a sleeve–my first ever. At French Fashion Academy, we never draped a set-in sleeve because we were told the process is too time consuming. Instead set-in sleeves were drafted. The only kinds of sleeves that were draped were mounted sleeves such as a raglan or dolman sleeve.

Illustration from “Draping & Designing With Scissors and Cloth 1930s” for draping basic set-in sleeve (Steps 15a-e).

The technique I’m using is from “Draping & Designing With Scissors and Cloth 1930s” edited by Sandra Ericson. The illustrations and instructions are detailed enough. The process is hard to explain, though. I found it required a lot of concentration and a length of uninterrupted time that spanned about 2 hours. It took that long because this was something I needed to take frequent breaks from. I ended up with something that is the strangest looking sleeve pattern I’ve ever seen but I need to proof the pattern, make adjustments and then sew the sleeve into a toile to see if it really worked out or not.

This is a very photo heavy post which I hope will give you an idea of how the process went.

Why I decided to drape the sleeve

I thought a capelet or cape collar would look good with a sleeveless dress. To get an idea of how the capelet would look I draped a scarf around the shoulders and neckline after pinning the arm to the form. Since the dress is flared on the bottom I thought the capelet would compete with that part of the dress. Also, I did not like the way the dress form was now divided into three parts. It was too much to look at.

Draping the Basic Set-in Sleeve with Elbow Dart

1. The muslin is cut by the measurement of the arm length by the width plus ease. An ease tuck is created which the book says should be folded in along the lengthwise grain line. But this would shift the ease all to the front or all to the back once the tuck is released. So I drew the orange line for the center length of the sleeve. Then I measured 3/8″ tuck to each side. The tucks were folded and pinned towards the center lengthwise grain line.

2. Close-up of the muslin. The center grain line is placed at the shoulder line above the point where extra length is allowed. Then it is pinned along the center grain line marked on the arm.

3. The muslin is pinned along the underarm seam. This was tricky because the arm is bulky and if not pinned securely can drop lower than it should or move around. After the underarm seam is partially pinned above the elbow the shaping up and around the sleeve cap begins. Excess fabric is evenly distributed (you hope!).

Continue reading