Sunday 1 April 2012

Tova Sew-a-long post 6: Setting the Sleeve

In this post we will assemble and set the sleeve into the armhole and add the cuff.  In Jenny's instructions this is stage 5 and 6.  
Assemble sleeves
This is easy, stitchithe sleeve seams right sides together and finish the seam edge- serge/zig zag/overcast or pinking shears.  Look at the notches around the armhole you transferred from the paper pattern (they looked like 'T' on the pattern), the double notch indicates the back of the sleeve, the single notch is the front.  Press seam towards the back.  Repeat with other sleeve so you have a left and a right sleeve.
As I lengthened my sleeve I made my cuff narrower because my wrist is thinner than my mid arm where the sleeve would usually finish.  I recommend that you stitch the cuff together at the short seams so it is a loop like a bracelet and check for fit, I made mine smaller by 3/4"  at each end. If you have shortened your sleeve and want to add a cuff it will need to be bigger as your arm is wider at the top!    Prepare the sleeve end by two rows of gathering stitches just like we did for the placket.  I did mine just over 1/8" and 1/2" from sleeve edge and I sewed with the wrong side facing upwards.  Gather as we did the placket, evening out the gathers with a pin and matching the notches with the cuff.  When you are happy with the fit, knot the gathering thread ends and pin all round with right sides together.  You will need your free arm on your sewing machine and I found sleeve end/cuff too narrow to completely fit over my machine free arm so stitch slowly so as not to trap any fabric.  You can see my seam stitching between the gathering threads.
Finishing the cuff from this point is very similar to binding a quilt!  Remove the gathering threads, fold the cuff over so that the bottom edge covers the seam by just over 3/8.  Tuck  3/8" under at the bottom of the sleeve press and pin in place.  This folded line should just cover the seam.  You could hand sew the cuff to the sleeve- it is the inside of the cuff so your stitches will be hidden, or you could sew right next to the folded edge through the cuff.  You can see mine below on a sleeve board.  Sleeve boards are very handy items, useful for bag, purse and pouch making as well as clothing
Setting the Sleeve
At the top of the sleeve, stitch two lines of gathering stitches between the notches at the sleeve cap- look at Jenny's diagram in the instructions if you are not sure where to stitch.   I stitched 1/8" and 1/2" rather than the suggested 1/8" and 1/4"and I had the wrong side facing as that is the side you will be working with when you pin the sleeve in the armhole.  You will only be gathering very gently as there is only a little fullness to reduce so you will hardly see any gathers in the fabric.  The gathering here  is to ease the sleeve in and give you room for your shoulder to fit in rather than a style feature.  At the underarm area there are no gathers.  Your Tova top should be inside out, make sure you have the right sleeve for the right armhole and the left for the left armhole- use the notches to work this out, the double notch is on the back.  The sleeve should be the right side out, place it the through the arm of the Tova so right sides are together.   Match notches and pin working on the inside of the sleeve. When you come to stitch your seam you will start on the inside with your machine.  Make sure the sleeve seam is lying to the back of the sleeve (see bottom of the photo below)  
 I found the easiest thing to do was to stitch the underarm area first where there are no gathers.  I stitched the usual 3/8"seam and then I stitched just next to this line within the seam allowance. This extra line of stitching reinforces an area of strain- just imagine lifting your arms up and the tension placed on this seam.  You can just see the extra line of stitching in the picture.
Then I stitched the rest of the seam, starting my stitching from where the underarm stitching finished and stitching right round, between the gathering stitches until you meet where the underarm stitching started.  Go slow, there is a lot of fabric and it is easy to trap a little underneath- just like I did, see the pic below!
Once you have checked all round the seam to make sure there no pleats or trapped fabric, remove the gathering stitches.  You can then finish the seam edge by serging/zig zag/overcast or pinking shears.

We are nearly finished!  Back mid-week with the collar to finish the Tova!
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  1. Thank you Kerry. I was a bit nervous about setting the sleeves, but it went well. I did trap a tiny bit of fabric once, but it was easily remedied. Great tip about reinforcing the stitching, I wouldn't have thought about it. I went ahead and finished the collar too, as there is little chance of me sewing this week, but I'm looking forward to the final tips, so that I can use them when I sew my Echo Tova.

  2. Hello! I am following along all the way from Malaysia :) I finished mine last night, stayed up till 1 am's true, after a very tricky front inset/placket attachment everything else was easy. I made mine in a cheapo lightweight cotton fabric to test the fit and it turned out perfect. I will be blogging about my first Tova soon, will link to you. I am now already picking new fabrics to cut my 2nd one, this time it has to be a precious voile I've been hoarding. I sewed a size L, I have lots of quilting cottons but a bit nervous that the top would look bulky with quilting cottons especially if its a larger L size. What do you think?

    1. My Echo Tova is quilting cotton and it is definitely bulkier than my voile version but very wearable, especially when the weather is not so warm! Thee is no denying that the lighter weight fabrics are great for this- lawn, voile etc. My quilting cottons vary, some are thinner than others! I have some Japanese Sevenberry that is lovely quality and would hang better than say Kona cotton. Have a feel through your quilting cottons, see which feels softer and thinner, and definitely prewash! Thanks Zura

  3. Just catching up with the sew-a-long posts, I thought I was really behind but am at exactly this stage now - am hoping to get it finished this week. It is in a really pretty Nani Iro print and I love it!

  4. Hi, Kerry. This sew along has been a great resource for me. I had attempted a Tova a long time ago and it was too small, then I set it aside. I got the yen to make another one recently and I'm so glad you put this series out there. What great tips! I especially like your tip to baste the gathering/easing once inside the allowance and then again outside the allowance and then sew the seam in between the basting stitches. What a fantastic trick for great looking gathers and no accidental tucks in the easing. First time I have ever done set-in sleeves without wanting to cry. This time I made a size L to fit my broad shoulders and then had to make a straight shoulder adjustment and take in the sides and arms. I'm just about finished and it looks fantastic! Very excited. Great fit this time. I think I'll also take a page from your book about the collar and make it thinner. A thousand thanks!


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