Vintage Shirt - Felled Seam Technique

Monday, June 22, 2009
Progress on the Vintage Mens Shirt continues!



Now the sleeves are sewn...and I thought you might be interested in seeing how these sleeves are drafted and set. It is done differently than most methods seen in modern printed patterns.









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Take a look at these pattern pieces. I've marked the stitching lines so that you can see that the sleeve seam allowance is twice as wide as the corresponding seam on the shirt back (and front, not shown). The seam allowance of the sleeve is 1", and the armscye seam allowance is 1/2".

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As you can see in the photo below, when the stitching line of the sleeve and armscye are matched (right sides together), the sleeve cap allowance extends beyond that of the shirt. The sleeve is set by stitching along the stitching line of the armscye. It's much easier to do if you first mark the 1/2" seam allowance as you can see by the blue lines. When you've set sleeves this way several times, you can just do it by sight. In fact, when I hand-draft shirts, I almost always draft the sleeve allowance at twice the width of the armscye allowance.

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Here is the sleeve set into the armscye, from the wrong side. Because the sleeve seam allowance is wider, it is "auto-magically" ready to be felled...with no trimming needed!

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To begin felling the seam, just fold and press the larger sleeve seam allowance over the smaller one, enclosing it. In the photo below, the allowance is pressed at the bottom of the photo, and still open near the top of the photo.

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When the sleeve allowance is completely pressed over the armscyce allowance, next press BOTH allowances towards the shirt. Look...an "instant" felled seam !

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All that remains to finish setting the sleeves is to topstitch a scant 1/2" away from the well of the seam from the RIGHT SIDE, through all layers....as shown below.

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And this is how the felled sleeve seam looks from the wrong side, after the topstitching is complete. Nice and smooth, neat and easy...with no raw edges.


Now I just have to choose buttons, sew the side seams and hem, and talk Roger into modeling the shirt...along with the 100 other things I have to do today. But the laundry can wait, can't it? :)