Today we are going to finish up the sleeves for Simplicity 2305. There are two physical parts to these sleeves: one part is the sleeve cuff, which is actually about half of the sleeve and the other part is a continuation of the bodice, which drapes over the shoulders and down half of each arm, forming the top part of the sleeve. When the sleeves are finished, this is what it should look like:
First, we want to prep the sleeve cuff. You apply your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of each cuff, following your interfacing application instructions. Then, we’ll press one cuff end (this will create a finished look) by 5/8″. Trim that bit of fabric down to 1/4″ — the reason we press a larger amount and then trim it is because it’s really hard to press down only 1/4″ of fabric backed with interfacing.
Now we want to prep our sleeve ends on the bodice for gathering. We’re going to stitch two lines of long stitches, leaving our thread ends long which will enable us to grasp them and slide the fabric along the threads. You’ll start by stitching one line on a 1/4″ allowance from one notch to the other notch. Do this again on the 1/2″ allowance from one notch to the other notch. Two lines of stitching will help us be a little more exact and it’s a great back-up policy in case one line of thread breaks (it’s happened to me… trust me on this one).
Now, with right sides together. we’re going to make the sleeve end from the bodice shrink to fit the width of the cuff. I preferred to take the cuff, right side up, and lay it down on the table. Then I took the bodice sleeve, right side down, and laid it on top of the cuff piece so that the right sides were touching each other. Remember that edge of the cuff that we pressed down and trimmed? Well, we’re working with the opposite edge of the cuff, so when you stitch this thing together, you will *not* be stitching the pressed under edge. If you do, never fear… just get out your seam ripper, take it apart and flip the cuff around.
To get this started, I like to take hold of both bobbin threads from one side and start pulling the fabric down to reduce the length just a bit. I’ll then do the same on the other side until the width of my sleeve end looks a lot closer to the cuff. When I start getting close, I’ll pin the sleeve to the cuff at the notches to help anchor my main matching points together. Continue to gently tug on those bobbin threads and help walk the fabric down the threads… spread it out evenly so that the gathers aren’t all in a big clump somewhere in the middle. It will be very obvious if the fabric is gathered evenly.
When you’re done gathering, you use those two pins at each notch to your advantage! Take those long threads and wrap them around in a a figure 8 pattern to secure the threads until you stitch this together. Before stitching, you still want to pin across the entire edge. Then we’ll stitch the seam with the standard 5/8″ seam allowance. I always like to add in a couple of back stitches at the start and end of the stitch line to secure the thread ends.
When the stitching is finished, it should look like the following picture. Press your finished seam, pressing the seam toward the band.
You may notice that some of your gathering stitch line is visible on the right side/pretty side of the sleeve. No problem! This happens to me all the time. Carefully pick out the visible threads with your seam ripper and sometimes you’ll find the entire thread can be pull from one side (that’s always awesome when it happens!).
Before we finish this sleeve, we want to trim down that seam allowance that we just sewed so that there isn’t a lot of bulk that can show when we wear the finished garment. I like to trim it down by about half — I don’t measure it exactly. But I do make sure that I’m really careful to trim at least 1/4″ away from the stitching line so that I don’t cut through the seam I just sewed.
Now It’s time to fold that cuff (sleeve band) to the inside of the garment. Remember that handy edge that we pressed and trimmed? This is it’s shining moment! When you fold in the cuff, you’ll place that pressed edge over the seam line that we just sewed… it should just cover the seam line and the seam should be encased in the cuff now. Pin it in place and stitch close to the the cuff edge on the right side of the fabric.
On the pattern envelope you can see an option to add an additional top stitching embellishment, but neither Madelyn nor myself did this. We both felt like it looked more polished with our respective fabrics to leave the sleeve cuffs plain. The dress design leaves this detail up to you.
Your sleeves should look like butterflied chicken at this point. They’re missing the under arm seam, so that’s our next step. On the right hand side of the dress, you’re going to pin from end of the side bodice to the end of the cuff and stitch with 5/8″ inch. (Don’t forget to finish your seams!) Easy peasy.
On the left hand side, with right sides together, you’re going to pin from the dot on the pattern markings to the end of the cuff and stitch 5/8″ from top to bottom. It’s really important that you only stitch to the dot! The reason is because we’re going to insert an invisible zipper on the side side of the dress. If you stitch through your whole left side of the bodice, it’s ok… you can always grab your seam ripper and open up the left side seam to the dot and then reinforce the dot point with a couple of extra stitches.
You will notice there is a noticeable curve to the underarm seam, so be sure to cut some notches to allow the curvature to lay against your body without strange bubbles or puckers.
The final finishing you will do on these sleeves is to trim the seam allowance at the end of the cuffs on an angle and secure them to the cuff end with a few slip stitches. When you’re wearing the dress, you will love this finish because it will be more comfortable to wear and will keep your sleeves nice and flat against your arm.
Up next… we attached the midriff (waist band), followed by the skirt construction, attaching the skirt to the midriff, and lastly we insert the invisible zipper. It’s looking good!
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