Jeanne from Night Knitter shows us how to make the sleeves and sleeve cuffs today for both views (A & B) of the Jump Rope Dress. We’ll pause for a long weekend to give you some time to catch up, and we’ll be back with new sew-along posts on Monday! Don’t forget to comment on any sew-along post for your chance to win an Oliver + S pattern or 12 fat quarters of the City Weekend fabric collection by Liesl Gibson for Moda!

Check out the sleeves! Jeanne’s completed Jump Rope Dress, View B.

    Now that your collars are complete, today we are going to tackle:

  • Preparing the sleeves
  • Creating the sleeve tabs (for View A only)
  • Attaching the sleeves
  • Sewing the sleeve and side seams
  • Finishing the sleeve cuffs for both Views A and B

Prepare the Sleeves (both Views)
When you begin to prepare your sleeves, finish the bottom of the sleeve’s raw edge with a zig zag stitch to prevent the fabric from fraying.

When you sew your two rows of gathering stitches, use a long basting stitch and don’t forget to leave the thread tails rather long on both sides. I sometimes find it easier to use a contrasting colored thread in the bobbin so that I can not only see the stitches better but also help me remember which set of gathering stitches to pull from when I start to attach the sleeve cap to the armhole (more on that later).

Sleeve tabs (View A)
For those of you who are sewing View A, let’s get started with creating the sleeve tabs.

I pretty much followed the directions exactly as they are written in the pattern including using tissue paper to help stabilize the fabric.

Sewing the tiny tabs can be a bit of a challenge since they are so small, but here are some tips to help you create crisp points:

  • Mark the pivot points on the tab before you start sewing.

  • In order to pivot 1/4” on both sides, you may have to shorten your stitch length.
  • If you are a knitter, try using a knitting needle to push out the corners of the tabs once they are right side out.

  • If you choose to edgestitch the tab, use tissue to help stabilize the fabric. If you use an edgestitching foot, check out Amy’s handy tutorial here.

I chose to eyeball my edgestitching on the tabs so I could see when I needed to pivot the tabs without having the edgestitch footer impede my view.

Now that you have your sleeve tabs sewn, let’s baste them onto the edge of the sleeve. Fold the sleeve in half and mark the center with the pin. You can also use a fabric marker or tailor’s caulk to so this as well.

Fold the sleeve tab in half at the unsewn end. Finger press the crease to create small fold line. Match the fold line with the pin marking the center of the sleeve.

Pin the tab to the bottom of the sleeve and baste.

Preparing the Sleeve Cuff (both Views)
You can either use a ruler along with tailors chalk or a fabric pin to mark the 1 1/2” first fold line.

You can also use a basting stitch to create the fold line. My sewing machine doesn’t have a 1 1/2” guide, so I measured the distance from my needle and marked it with tab.

As you create your second fold line, make sure your fabric is face down.

Fold and press your sleeve cuff.

Before you attach your sleeve into the armhole, you will need to unfold your sleeve cuff. Be sure that you have distinct creases at your fold line since it will make finishing your sleeve cuffs so much easier.

Attach the Sleeves (both Views)
Set-in sleeves can be a bit tricky because the sleeve cap must be eased into the armhole to ensure a proper fit. The gathering stitches are used to help you ease the sleeve cap into the armhole.

Place the right sides of the armhole and sleeve together. Matching the notches is extremely important when you are starting to pin your sleeve to the armhole. Usually a double notches indicate the back of the sleeve, and single notches are for the front, but with this pattern, both the front and the back of the sleeve have single notches.

When you are pinning your sleeves into the armholes, start lining up the notches and pin the sleeve and the dress’s armhole. Gently, pull on the gathering stitches slightly and distribute the gathers evenly.

I find it helpful to evenly distribute the stitches by working in sections between each set of notches. Within each section, try distributing the gathers evenly and then pin the sleeve to the armhole working your way from the each notch, alternating pinning the right side and then the left, and towards the center of the section.

While you are doing this, make sure the fabric around the armhole remains flat and smooth.

Attaching the sleeve in this way will help gently ease the sleeve into the armhole. In these photos, the pink pins illustrate where the notches are located.

There shouldn’t be any pleats on the armhole side of the fabric or gathers on the sleeve on the right side of the dress.

To make sure the placement of your sleeve is correct, you may want to use a set of basting stitches to sew your sleeves to the armholes. This will prevent you from having to struggle with pins when you are sewing the sleeve. It will also help you check the placement to make sure there are no pleats on the sleeve cap or the armhole prior to adding the final stitches.

As you are sewing the sleeve to the armhole, take the time to stop and pull on the fabric beneath to make sure there are no gathers underneath.

After you have finished sewing the sleeve to the armhole, you may discover a pleat or pucker.

Never fear, just grab your handy seam ripper and take out a few stitches around the pleat, smooth the fabric out, and sew it again. Voilia, pleat be gone!

Once your sleeve is attached, your sleeve cap and armhole should be smooth with no visible gathers or pleats once the dress is turned right side out.

Once your sleeve is sewn in finish the seam allowance and take out your basting stitches.

For more on sewing in sleeves, there is a great tutorial from Jenny Gordy here.

Now, you are ready to join the side and sleeve seams as written in the pattern directions.

As you do so, take care to match up the creases to you created for the cuffs.

Finishing Cuffs
Now that your side and sleeve seams are sewn together and you have finished your seam allowances, re-fold the cuffs and press them.

Follow the directions in the pattern to stitch the bottom of the sleeve to the actual sleeve. I turned the sleeve right side out and eased the inside sleeve under my needle. I used the far edge of the zig zag stitch as my guide as I sewed around the bottom of the sleeve.

For View A, make sure you pin down the tab, so it doesn’t get in the way.

Secure the cuff with a blind hem stitch. As the name implies, a blind hem is a stitch that is hidden so it doesn’t show when the dress is turned right side out.

You can find a great tutorial Liesl wrote on how to sew a blind stitch hem here.

When you start to sew your blind hem stitches, start under the sleeve cuff and use small stitches as you work my way around the bottom of the sleeve.

For View B, I used longer and fewer stitches to secure the cuff to the sleeve.

This will allow me to take the blind hem stitches out and unfold the cuff so it can be worn longer as my daughter grows taller. In a way, the sleeves grow as my daughter’s arms grow longer.

This image below is my daughter wearing View B of the dress I made her last year. With the unfolded sleeve, she can wear it a few more times before the dress is retired to a box in the attic.

Now step back, and take some time to admire your handwork!

Completed dress with pretty sleeves, View B.

For those of you who are sewing View A, hold off on attaching your button to the sleeve tab. Just pin the tab to the sleeve for now. We will tackle buttons next week.


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