Of Godets and Set in Sleeves

Time is starting to crunch when it comes to The Christening Dress.  I’ve got until Sunday to get this finished and I have actually made a lot of progress.  From cutting the muslin for the toile to completion of the final dress will be less than a week.  That’s fast for me!

Anyway, there are some particular details I wanted to share with you because I am that darn proud of them.  I don’t know whether the results are because I’m continually improving when it comes to this sewing malarkey, because the fabric is so good to work with, the excellent tutorials that have been shared online. or a combination of the above.  I suspect its a combination!

So, the colour of the dress has changed from the original plans (an eBay win landed me this fabric for £4!) as its now ice blue rather than teal, but hey!

Anyway, proud as punch moment number one.  Look at this set in sleeve!  For me, sleeves are by far and away the most scary bit of any garment.  Buttonholes used to worry me but the Beignette skirt cured me of that.  Set in sleeves though have always been a struggle.  I’ve never been able to get them set in as beautifully and neatly as this!

Not a pucker, pleat or bulge to be seen.  I have to admit that I did take my time putting this in:

I ran two rows of gathering stitches using my usual stitch length but a really loose upper tension (an Adele Margolis tip I think, or maybe it was Peter of Male Pattern Boldness who mentioned this technique?).  One row was at 4/8″ and the other at 6/8″.  These were put in before sewing the underarm seam and hemming the sleeve.

I pinned the sleeve in at the under arm seam, matched the notch to the shoulder seam, matched the front and back notches and then smoothed the fabric out and pinned at the beginning and end of the gathering stitches.

I then gathered to make the sleeve fit.  Having been researching a lapped side zipper (I’ll explain later but its for a different project) I’d been reading some of Casey’s Swing Dress Sew Along posts.  In one of the posts she shows how she inserts her sleeves.  I didn’t follow all her suggestions, but I did follow the recommendation to pin every 1/2″ in the gathered section.  It’s a really clear and comprehensive post on setting in sleeves and gave me some confidence which always helps!

Next up was basting it in using a long stitch length on my machine.  I used the hand wheel though for the gathered section so that I could really make sure there were no tucks, pleats or pinched bits.  I still had to redo a tiny section though!  I removed the pins as I went.

Finally it was time to stitch it in for keeps.  I went back to my usual stitch length (2 on my machine which is quite short) and carefully stitched.  I had to manipulate the dress underneath to make sure there werent any inadvertent puckers, gathers or pleats at this stage and that it was feeding through nice and flat.

After that it was a case of running a second row of stitching just inside the first in the seam allowance, finishing the raw edge, removing the basting and gathering stitches and then pressing.

The pressing is what has taken this from good to great (in my eyes at least!).  It looked good to me without it, but the final press/steam is what’s got rid of the little pin pricks and smoothed everything out.

As I say, very very pleased with this!  I hope sleeve number 2 goes in as well…

And for my second piece of sewing pride I give you the godet inserted into the back seam of the dress’ skirt!

This I fully credit to Liz of Zilredloh (and I’ve only just realised that her blog title is her name spelt backwards!  Face-palm!).  Back in October 2011 Liz posted a tutorial about how she reinforces her pencil skirt seams and how she inserted the godet in her Burda skirt.  It was this tutorial that introduced me to her blog (I can’t remember why I wound up there, I suspect from Burda) and I’m so glad that it did and that I’ve now been able to apply the information she shared!

I’m not going to rewrite Liz’s very clear and comprehensive instructions.  My only variation was to put a narrow hem on the godet and hand stitch the lace on before I inserted it.  I then lined up the bottom of the godet with the hem fold line of the skirt.  There was no markings to line up the godet as the Jenny Skirt doesn’t have one, hence the slightly ‘winging it’ approach of lining up the hem points!

By following her tutorial I wound up with this:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  The hem on the back of the skirt pannels is just pressed up at the moment, but once the skirt is completed this is how it’ll look!

I’m starting to feel that the pale blue and lace combo is a bit too ‘wedding’ ish and maybe even a bit Mother of the Bride!  So I’ll finish up the dress and then make a decision about the lace at the neckline.  I can always add a vintage pin / brooch instead?  The teal would have probably avoided that particular style issue…

The centre back seam is only basted at the moment as the Peony dress has an invisble back zipper.  As you need the seam beneath the zipper to be open to insert an invisible zip, this seemed like the best compromise to me.  The godet is inserted and the seam is securely in place up to a few inches of where the zipper end will be.  I can put the final stitching in once the zipper is inserted using the basting stitches as a guide if necessary.

So, all I need to do now is attach the skirt front to the back, attach the skirt to the bodice, insert the zip, sew the back seam of the skirt and install the facings at the neck.  Oh, and insert that second sleeve!  I hope to get ALL that done tonight…

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7 thoughts on “Of Godets and Set in Sleeves

    1. Thank you! This is truly somewhere that slowing down and taking some care really massively pays off… I do fancy some quick and easy sewing now though 🙂

  1. Thanks for the your tips on the sleeve. I’m sewing a brocade top this weekend that has sleeves and I’m going to give your tips a try. Good luck at finishing it!

  2. Well done on the sewing – I also dread set in sleeves as mine are always puckered. I’ll be taking note of your tips – thanks!

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