Sunday, August 4, 2013

Raglan Sleeves

Let's talk about raglan sleeves.  So what is a raglan sleeve, anyway?  It's a sleeve that stretched directly to the collar piece.  A pattern piece for a raglan sleeve looks something like this--

This is from Ruby Jean's Closet's Sweet Cheeks Peasant Blouse--I've simply printed two of them and stuck them together.  Ignore my wobbly lines.  I'm really bad at mouse drawing! Notice how similar it looks to a one legged pant pattern piece?  The top edge is part of the neckline, while the bottom edge is the bottom of the sleeve.

Now, once we have everything cut out, and ironed, we need to prepare the fabric.  This particular pattern features gathered, puffed sleeves.  Raglan sleeves are most common in sports wear and coats, but occasionally appear in dresses and blouses.  In fact, I've never seen a blouse like this with anything but raglan sleeves.  So first step is to sew in the casing.  I'm the first to admit that I'm a lazy seamstress.  I see no reason to spend an hour with a hot iron, singeing my fingers when I can spend a few minutes with bias tape to get the same result. Since this also has ruffles, we sew those on, too, and put the casings in the front and back of the shirt.  There are matching seams on the front and back pieces, so we pin in the sleeves.  In a lot of ways, raglan sleeves are easier than traditional sleeves, because we don't have to contend with the sleeve cap and setting in sleeves.

 Now, we need to sew the sleeves in and finish all four seams.  (That's what I love my serger for.  Lovely finished seams done very, very quickly.)

Once it's sewn together and the seams finished, the side seams are next.  Every pattern with raglan sleeves I've ever seen would have you stop with sewing and finishing the side seams, but I know better.  Story time!

My mother was born in 1945.  That means that she grew up in a time where Home Economics was a requirement for girls, and sewing was part of the curriculum.  (This was in the fifties, I think.)  In school, one of the projects was a raglan sleeve blouse, which she made to the approval of her teacher... and the first time she wore it, she lifted her arms and the sleeves ripped out!  She brought it to her mother, and Grandma laughed herself sick, fixed it, and then explained the problem.  With raglan sleeves, there is a huge amount of stress placed on the seams.   Which means that where they meet  is where if you don't do something, it will rip out.

So first things first.  We cut a rectangle of bias tape... Fold under the raw edges and pin over where the seams meet.

 Next, we sew around it to secure it, and then I prefer to sew through it in an X from corner to corner.  That reinforces the point of greatest stress.  Now when you lift your arms, it won't rip out. By using matching thread, it doesn't really show from the outside unless you're looking, either.

Now all that's left to finish the blouse is the neck casing and hem.  And remember, LAZY!  Hello bias tape casings, goodbye burned fingers!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sewing for Baby Alex

By now, Alex has probably outgrown this, and I'm not certain he ever wore it because it turned out a bit wide. I'm also not entirely happy with this one.  While I adore the way a piped placket looks, it made it a bit thick and hard to button.  And the train embroidery ended up a little too high.  A quarter inch lower would have been better.  I also would have preferred the collar to actually meet, but it didn't. I'd like to blame the pattern, but it must be something I did, because it's something I struggle with.

I love whipstitch piping, though.  I changed up the sleeves a bit to have piped cuffs, but otherwise, this is made as it was supposed to be.  It's, of course, from a vintage pattern.  :) Vintage 80s, in this case.  It's Butterick 4723, and I have it in multiple sizes.  This is one pattern that I'd actually love to have a complete set of!  Remember, patterns of this era were one size only.  :)

I actually used the embroidery pattern for the girls' Easter dresses this past year, too.  I'd wanted to do a Sunday romper for Alex with a train motif, so when I found this, it was perfect!  Exactly what I wanted, and cute to boot.  As soon as I locate pictures, I may be doing a post about the baby shower gifts I made.  With everything that happened that month and the aftermath, I never got around to posting about them.  And believe me, I went a bit crazy at finally being able to sew for a little boy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

the birthday presents

I did actually finish those birthday presents.  For Lizzie, I did another Minnie Mouse outfit.  The headband, at least was a hit at the time, and it's one of her favorites now, but, well, to a three-year-old clothing is an unexciting present!

Richard has a yen for turtles.  His first ever toy was a stuffed turtle that Uncle Geoffrey gave him the day he was born.  Add to that fact that both his parents went to Georgia tech, and you have Tech Turtle.  He's made from a vintage toy pattern, and I'm completely convinced that those are the way to go. 

I'm afraid I forgot to take pictures of Gracie's present.  Hers was tricky, because I was cutting down a doll clothing pattern to fit her extremely skinny favorite doll.  Hopefully, Christmas won't be as difficult.  Someday, I should probably blog about baby gifts as well--I have enough pictures, after all--but my blog time and sewing time are limited these days.  Though y'all can expect a post on raglan sleeves within the next week!