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Vintage Shirt - Felled Seam Technique

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 !

(Click Pic to enlarge, use browser "back button" to return)

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? :)

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Blogger BConky said...

What a clever way to draft the pattern. What a time saver. Thanks.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Thank you for sharing this great technique. I'll have to try it! I can't wait to see the finished shirt.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Linda T said...

In my book, laudry can ALWAYS wait. Neat technique on the seam!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Nancy K said...

Really clever drafting, and easy too when you consider other flat fell methods, especially in the more difficult armscye area. Really nice.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Liz in Calgary said...

Quite the technique. I am wondering if it is easier to match stripes this way as well?


5:20 PM  
Blogger gwensews said...

Aha! Very interesting technique. I will make a sample of this seam. Thank you.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Peggy L said...

Beautiful seam finish. Thanks for posting this technique.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

This looks great. Thanks for the details and pictures. I must try this sometime.

2:02 AM  
Blogger BetsyV said...

Thanks for this entry. I usually remember to cut 7/8" SAs on both pieces but it makes the topstitching gap from the seam a little skimpy. I will try your way on the next shirt I make. I like to flat-fell seams on my shirts, too, not just those for DH.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Els said...

Fantastic tutorial, thanks for sharing this neat way.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Summerset said...

What a great draft for the pattern. Thank you for posting this, because I will be cutting out a shirt for dh later this week and I will add the extra seam allowance to the sleeve cap. That also means I get to try out my Pro-woven interfacing, too. It is the only one I haven't used and have been waiting for the next shirt making experience.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous phyllis said...

I am so gonna try this!

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this tutorial. My husband has been asking for me to make him a shirt! I will be referring to your blog...a lot!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

This is great info! I can't wait to try it.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Sigrid said...

Only just found time to really read and understand this. What a fantastic tutorial. Thank you.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Tany said...

Excellent job on both the shirt and the tutorial, Pam!

5:26 PM  
Blogger Marie-NoĆ«lle said...

Thanks for the right on time tutorial
My DH's birthday is tomorrow and I am making him a shirt lol

10:01 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

Brilliant! I love me a felled seam.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Puk said...

For a newbee like me it looks like a french seam layed down and topstiched, but made a bit harder to do?
Or is it just me who cant see the difference?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Hello Puk,

There are many ways to sew a french seam, there are many ways to sew a felled seam. Often the techniques and their names are interchangeable :)

Professional shirt-makers generally consider this a felled seam. Regardless of it's "name", it results in a beautifully finished seam, with minimal effort.

Since I have been using this technique for years, it is quite easy for me to off-set the seam allowances and sew them without marking. So in my shirt-making studio, this is the technique that I require the tailors who work with me to use (under most circumstances)...and the one that I prefer.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Puk said...

Got a bit confused while reading your tutorial, but thanks for clarifying it for me.

10:26 AM  
Blogger glayla said...

That is so cool! Thanks for sharing that :)

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Jodieth said...

I love this tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Just tried this technique today Pam. Works great! Thanks a bunch

10:16 PM  
Blogger Joyce in NC said...

I had to read your directions again but now I see how you made the flat fell seams for the arms. Great idea that I must use on my shirts.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Jaydee from Nigeria said...

Pam, you are really God-sent. Tanx a million times for this tut.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pam
I have to congratulate you on the best site for tips and tricks regarding shirts! I would love your take on collar stand/collar construction...have you done one on this ? I'll keep checking your site for a response to my query as I am about to embark on a tailored shirt......
many thanks
Brisbane Australia

12:34 AM  

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