1. Stitch a line within the seam allowance from one end of the sleeve cap to the other (or the upper sleeve for a two piece sleeve). Don’t use your longest stitch, the stitch you use to baste/gather. Use the one down from that, so that the gathering is more controlled.
2. Gently pull on the thread to start gathering a little bit, but not enough that it would produce tucks if sewn.
3. Stand up your tailor’s ham so the smaller end is up, then drape the sleeve cap over the ham to similate its placement on your shoulder. Press, with steam if your fabric can handle it.
4. Using a basting stitch and stitching just shy of the actual width you’re supposed to sew (usually 5/8” but for the bodice it’s 1/2”) stitch the bottom part of the sleeve as you would anything else. Ease the upper sleeve. As you stitch lightly tug on the thread as you go in small spurts. Essentially this and the pressing/steaming draws up that pesky ease that you’re left with at the end.
Now, when my teacher did this, the sleeve wasn’t perfect. The sleeve cap was a bit puffy, and there was one small tuck. But by the time I stitch where I’m supposed to stitch, easing out that tiny part, and pressing, the sleeve will be fine. The one I tried didn’t look so hot…but I’ll take small tucks that are easily eased out than a huge pleat at the end any day! It's the difference between redoing a couple of inches and redoing the entire sleeve cap or sleeve.
She told me that this is actually a couture technique, which is probably why I’d never heard of it before, but it makes sense. I love learning and using couture techniques. Some of it is tedious, to be sure, but it makes the garment that much more beautiful when you're done.
It's getting down to the wire, and of course now I start to get sick. Probably just a cold. 'Tis the season. But still, I need to press onward. Especially since it looks like it's going to be colder than I expected and I may need to make a head covering. Tempting to focus on that and not finish my hat since I'll wear one or the other, but the forecast could change. It could rain, which means that all of this was for naught since I'm not slogging through the mud in my new dress. Not happening. Please no rain? It would literally make my day.