There are two ways to sew in a sleeve. You can use the classic set-in sleeve method where the sleeve is sewn first and then set into the armhole. This is most common for woven garments. For knits, sewing a sleeve in flat works really well and is a faster way to complete this process.
This is the third sewing step in the Blackwood Cardigan Sewalong.
Let’s get started!
You should be at the point where your shoulder seams are attached and your seams are pressed toward the back of the garment. Spread out your project so you get a nice ‘C’ shape where the sleeve should go.
Place the sleeve right side down on the Make sure you have the correct sleeve by checking that the notches are going to line up correctly before proceeding. Two notches for the back and one for the front. Place a pin where the top notch and the shoulder seam meet.
Next, bend the left side down and place a pin on the end.
Anchor the notches together with a third pin.
Fill in the remaining space with pins until you feel comfortable sewing.
Next, bend the right side down to meet the edge and place a pin. This is a bit awkward and you will need to move project around to make it happen.
Again, anchor the spot where the notches are and fill in the remaining side with pins.
Your pinned sleeve should look something like this:
Sew the sleeve in using a small zig-zag stitch.
If you like, you can finish the seam with a serger before pressing it toward the sleeve.
Pin the side seam and sleeves together all at once. Sew up from the bottom to the end of the sleeve.
That’s it! Sewing in a sleeve flat is a bit easier, faster, and it works great for knits. For more structured garments like jackets and coats, setting in the sleeve works much better because it gives the armhole a nice, round shape.
Do you like sewing in your sleeves using the flat method? Any tips are welcome!
If I had found this method earlier, I wouldn’t be ripping the sleeve out. Won’t be doing that again. Thank you for the tip.
Hi, thanks for the post, it’s helpful! Should there be a pivot at the underarm or should I be stitching a curve as it goes round? I’ve made a pivot but looks a little bulky – I dint want to clip it in case I need to re-do it. Thanks!!
Do we need to notch and trim the shoulder seam?
Oops I mean snip/ cut little triangles in?
I like your simple tutorial – I prefer to use the flat method. I am currently making a shirt with a brushed cotton – supposed to be set in .When I pin it ( to do the flat method and start pinning at the centre and working my way out to each side, I have extra material ( that is longer than the area I am joining it to – I suspect that is because it is supposed to be set in! So , finally my question: can I still flat sew it? or do I need to do a set in sleeve after all?
Hi Pamela! If the sleeve is meant to be set-in, it is usually a good idea to honor that. It may have extra ease along the sleeve cap (which would explain your extra fabric). That excess fabric needs to be eased in, which is usually accomplished with a set-in sleeve method. The excess fabric helps to provide shaping to the shoulder. I hope that helps!
thanks , I did end up setting it in and it was fine. Appreciate your response.
I’m so pleased to hear that, Pamela!!