How’s everyone doing with their Dakota sewing? Are you ready for Day 4 of the Sew With Us series?
Today, it’s all about sleeves! We’ll be stitching ’em up and attaching ’em to the bodice. Yay, sleeves!
(Missed one of the other days? Day 1 was assembling the pattern and cutting out our fabric. Day 2 was stitching up the bodice. And Day 3 was all about the skirt and pockets.)
Now, I have a little confession to make here. You see, we’re heading into summer down here in New Zealand (or so they tell me), and much as I love the long sleeves on the Dakota, I’ve decided to do a pattern hack (yes, another one – sorry! Terrible habit of mine, really!) and make short sleeves instead of the long sleeves. So today I’m going to be walking you through my pattern hack – short sleeves, with a faux and contrast piping! 🙂
Long sleeve placket and cuffs
Sewing up the traditional long-sleeved version of the Dakota? Never fear, help is at hand should you wish for it! There was a Dakota sew-along last year, which covers off sewing up the plackets/vents (although they did use a different placket style), and the cuffs for the sleeves.
Short sleeve variation (pattern hack) – cutting the sleeves and cuffs
Want to do a short-sleeve pattern hack with me? Come on, let’s do it!
Now, it would be pretty easy to do a basic short sleeve – simply measure from the top of the sleevehead down to the length you want your sleeve to be, add seam allowance, and cut it off there. Sew up your side seam, press the seam allowance of the sleeve hem up, and stitch down to form your basic short sleeve edging. Done.
I decided to do something slightly more involved. Since I used contrast piping on the collar, I want to tie that in elsewhere on the dress. So I’m making a little cuff for my sleeves, with piping edging.
First up, you’ll want to cut your sleeve length at the final length you’d like it to be, plus 2cm for the seam allowance (1cm at the top, which is already built in, and 1cm at the bottom for attaching your cuff to). I’ve cut my sleeve to be 27cm / 10 3/4″ long from the sleeve head to the base (including the seam allowance).
Now we’re going to cut two pieces for the sleeve cuffs. Figure out how wide you’d like your cuffs to be, and add 2cm for seam allowance. Cut two strips of fabric this width, making sure each one is a little bit longer than your sleeve edge is wide. (I’ve gone for 4cm wide cuffs, so I cut two strips at 6cm width.)
Since the Dakota sleeves are shaped (i.e. not the same width the whole way down the sleeve length) we now want to cut our cuffs so they’re the same shape as the sleeves. Lie your two cuff strips on top of one another, put one of your sleeves on top with the sleeve bottom edge lining up with the long edge of the cuffs, and trim off the two sides of the cuffs at an angle to match the sleeve angle. Now that they’re cut out, finish the edges of your cuff pieces (e.g. zig zag, overlock/serge, pink, etc).
Stitching the cuff
Before we attach the cuff to the sleeve, we’re going to stitch the top edge of the cuff. I’m adding piping to mine – if you want to have a plain cuff, simply press your 1cm seam allowance under along the widest edge of the cuff and stitch it down.
If you’re adding piping to your cuff like I am, stitch it along the widest edge of the cuff. Press the seam allowance under so the piping is neatly at the top of the cuff piece. (The photo below shows the piping attached, before the seam allowance is pressed under.)
Next, we’re going to attach the cuff to the sleeves. Pin your cuff onto your sleeve, with the right side of the cuff facing the wrong side of the sleeve. (This way, when we turn the cuff to the right side of the sleeve, the right sides will both be facing up and the seam attaching the cuff to the sleeve will be nicely enclosed with the seam allowance hidden.) Stitch along the sleeve hem.
Open the cuff out so the sleeve is fully flat and press the seam upwards towards the sleeve head. (Yeah, my ironing board cover is ugly, I admit it.)
Turn the cuff to the right side of the sleeve and press in place. (Tip: press so the seam joining the cuff and the sleeve is a couple of mm around to the inside of the sleeve – this will keep it nicely hidden when you’re wearing the garment later on.)
Attaching the sleeve
The pattern calls for more ease in the front of the sleeve than in the back. It’s easiest to work out which is which before you sew up the side seam of the sleeve. Measure from the centre notch (at the top of the sleeve head) down to each side notch – whichever distance is greater is the front of the sleeve. Mark either the front or back notch so you remember which is which when it comes time to set in the sleeve. Then stitch the sleeve edges together, as per the instructions.
To help ease in the sleeve, the pattern recommends running some ease stitches along the sleeve cap. Tip: to do this in the tidiest way, run two rows of gathering stitches (i.e. with a long stitch length and without backtacking at either end) between the notches on the sleeve. (There’s no need to extend the gathering stitches right to the end of the sleeve head.) Two rows of gathering stitches will make it a lot easier to get even gathers than if you only do one row.
When setting in your sleeve, align the centre notch on the sleeve head with the shoulder seam, and the sleeve side seam with the underarm seam. Then align the two other notches on the sleeve head with the notches on the arm holes. Gently ease in the rest of the sleeve head using your gathering stitches.
And… you’re done! Sleeves are now attached. 🙂
We’re nearly there! Tomorrow we’ll just be finishing up the last few details – hemming the dress and adding buttons (if you did the full length sleeves). Yippie!
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I like the short sleeves with piping! Am filing this for another project .