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Gathered Sleeve or Puffed Sleeve? ...it's All About the Seam Allowances

First...Since many wondered what I'd be making with that luscious striped Japanese knit (shown in a previous post) , you'll see it pictured above, made into the HotPatterns Riviera AnnisetteTop. The Riviera Annisette Top has gathered sleeves, but I chose to alter the sleeve pattern and make long plain sleeves instead. Why? I just felt that there was enough interest in the fabric itself, and didn't want to muddy it up with more details.

Now to begin this discussion of gathered sleeve caps, take a look at the blue top, above. It has gathered sleeves that are very subtle. When you make a top, dress or blouse with sleeve cap gathers, you have a choice to make them "puffed" or simply gathered into soft folds. It's all about the way the sleeve cap seam allowances are pressed.

When the seam allowances are pressed towards the sleeve, you have puffy sleeves like the example to the right.  In my opinion, puffy sleeves are usually better suited to the very young...but to each her own :)

Pressing the seam allowances towards the "body" (neckline) of the garment, results in sleeve cap gathers that lay  "flatter", and present more subtle folds.  It's a small detail, but one that is usually kinder to a mature figure.

Directing the seam allowances of gathers one way or the other can make a difference in other areas of a garment. For instance, pressing the seam allowance of a gathered skirt of a dress "up" towards the bodice will encourage the gathers to lay more flat, in smooth folds. Pressing those same gathers "down" (towards the hem) , will encourage the gathers to puff-up.  It's all about the look you prefer...and now you know you have a choice.

Sewing Notes: Yokes on both of the tops shown interfaced with PRO-SHEER ELEGANCE Light Fusible Interfacing from  

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Empty Closet = Sewing New Tops

Prompted by the fact that I have almost nothing "nice" to wear this season, I managed to get some sewing done this week. Since I can only stand for limited amounts of time because of my injury, tracing new patterns is not an option for me for a while. So I used 2 of my tried and true patterns, HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Top, and HotPatterns Metropolitan GoodTimes Top.
The gray Weekender Sunshine Top, shown above, is made from a luscious wool/cashmere blend sweater knit. I made the neckband a little wider and lengthened the short sleeves to full length. I am thrilled with the way it turned out..it feels so luxurious! If you have this pattern, do try it with long sleeves for the fall/winter. If you don't have this pattern, it's really worth a try. It's so flattering..makes your waist look tiny and that's always a good thing!   I made this style several times last spring, and wrote a step-by-step tutorial about how to sew it. It can be found HERE.

Earlier in the week, I made 2 versions of the Metropolitan GoodTimes Top. The olive green version is made from a wool/cashmere blend sweater knit. The blue print version is made from cotton/lycra jersey, and features shirred sleeves.  I am so happy to have some nice new tops...now I just have to muster up enough energy to sew a few more tops, some slacks, and I'll be all set for this season...maybe :)  
Sewing Notes: The band and yokes on all the tops are interfaced with Pro-Sheer Elegance Fusible Interfacing. The Sweater Knit yardage has been in my 'stash' for a long time, it was from 
Baer Fabrics, now out of business. 
The Cotton/Lycra Jersey is from Fabric.com.

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How to Add Seam Allowances to Traced Patterns...the Easy Way

There has been some chat on various sewing lists and forums lately about tracing patterns and adding seam allowances to them, so here is a repeat of a tutorial I wrote several months ago that some of you may have missed and may find helpful...

For those of us who draft our own patterns, or trace them from the various pattern magazines, here's an easy way to add seam allowances--

It's very simple...and while not a new concept, I do it a bit differently.

The method is basic:
Add the seam allowance to the pattern by stitching around the pattern using an un-threaded needle the desired distance from the sewing line.

What's different about the way I do it?

Well...I have discovered that by using a large Wing Needle, and a very close stitch (.5-1), the excess pattern paper just peels off. No need to cut out the pattern!

Some more information--

I run the pattern through the machine...the traced stitching line of the pattern on the RIGHT....making sure the stitching line of the pattern is on the seam allowance I want. Thus, the needle holes are punched to the left of the stitching line, adding the seam allowance.

I can see through the pattern paper easily enough to be able to run the marked stitching line exactly on the 1/4", 3/8", or 5/8" inch line that is marked on the bed of my machine. If I can't see through the paper easily, I just use a post-it or piece of blue "painter's tape" along the desired depth of seam allowance I want to add.

After getting a few questions...here are some additional pictures that hopefully will make this process more clear:

1. Mark the desired seam allowance with painter's tape to make it visible under the pattern to which you are adding allowances--

2. The blue line on the paper (shown below) is the traced pattern line. Run it along the desired depth of seam allowance you want to add (see depth of seam allowance pic above), using a wing needle. This punches holes in the pattern paper, adding the seam allowance (the distance from the needle to the blue traced line is the added seam allowance)--

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