Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Renfrew Ruched Sleeve Tutorial – part 2

Hello everyone, I hope you've had a good weekend! Mine was spent producing this tutorial. Kidding. I hosted friends over for brunch, relaxed on our roof-top Jacuzzi and worked on my thesis. As much as I love my research topic, I must say that I'm pretty ready to move on with my life and be done with the thesis. Just have to keep my head down and plough through the homestretch. Gah!

Now, about our ruched sleeves: We have already gone over the drafting of the pattern on Saturday. Today, we are covering assembly, in the second and final part of our Renfrew Ruched Sleeve Tutorial! Ready?

* * *
Start by sewing the front and back of your shirt, at the shoulders, reinforcing the seam with bias or stabilizing tape as per your pattern instructions. Resist the temptation to sew the side seams just yet!

Sew the collar to your Renfrew shirt, following the pattern instructions.

Put your front and back pieces aside for the moment, and take your sleeve pieces.

If sewing elastic:
Cut 2 x 8 in. elastic pieces. (I used 1/4-inch-wide elastic.)
With tailor's chalk or washable marker, draw a 12-inch line down the middle of your sleeve, starting 5/8 inch from the non-straight edge, like so. You'll be sewing the elastic on this line.

Stretch your elastic to sew it along the line. (See Tilly's post for some more detailed tips about doing that.)

All sleeves:
Take your sleeves pieces, and pin them at the top after folding them length-wise, as shown bellow. (Note: The shape of your pattern pieces will actually differ from these ones. These are prototypes.) Finish the seams.
Pinning the sleeves to the bodice: Match the shoulder seam and sleeve top seam, right sides together. Pin the sleeve to the armhole opening, making our way from the shoulder seam towards the underarm, on each side. You want to create 4 or 5 pleats on each side of the shoulder seam, like so.
Use your judgment in determining what size pleats you want. I used my thumb as a guide: roughly one thumb width between pleats, and one thumb width for each pleat.

"What kind of measurement method is this?" 
As my grandmother used to say: No one will walk around with a ruler to measure the spacing of your pleats.
Next important point: It's not very visible in the picture bellow, but you want each pleats to go towards the shoulder seam on the wrong side when you are pinning (as in picture). This will mean your pleats will go downward on the right side finished garment -- it's nicer that way.
Repeat these steps with the other sleeve, making both sleeves identical. Sew the sleeves in place. (I used a straight stitch.) Finish these seams.

Now we can tackle the side seams.
Depending on how precise you were in eyeballing your pleats, you might notice upon pining your sleeve, that one seam is longer than the other (you can see it a bit in the picture above). No biggie. Just make it match using your scissors. Also make sure both sleeves are the same length.

Complete the assembly of your shirt as per pattern instructions.

Voilà! You are now the proud owner of a ruched-sleeve shirt! I would love if you left any questions or comments bellow, and I will be very happy to help you out of any difficulty. I also welcome suggestions for improving this tutorial.

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your sleeves!

For part 1 of the tutorial, where I cover the actual drafting of the sleeve pattern, click here.


  1. I have a couple of other sewing projects to get out of the way first, then I am SO making one of these! Thanks ever so for the tutorial. Relaxing in a jacuzzi? You lucky thing!

  2. That is such a cute addition to a basic T-shirt pattern! Also, thanks a lot for your comment on my honeymoon blog post, have a fantastic trip to NYC yourself! Zoe xxx

  3. Just found your blog via Pinterest and I'm really sad I didn't find you a week sooner... would have been super rad to meet up with a fellow Women's Studies alum to talk about how fucking awesome the online sewing community is when I was in Toronto last weekend (visiting from Montreal no less). Anyway, here I am, new follower, fellow feminist & sewing devotee.

    1. I responded yesterday on your blog, but yeah, it's that I missed your visit. I'm sure we will not run out of things to talk about when we do meet! :-)

  4. This is a lovely and very creative tutorial. I am very fond of this kind of sleeves.I have a question. Can you share me the link for the ViewB top in your blog :)If I use a sleeve pattern meant for a non-knit fabric(Say a sheer or fabric with drape) and follow the steps. wont it give the same effect?Following your blog impressed. I sew a lot too here..Would love your reply and will get back on more clarifications while making.

    1. Hi Diya, thank you for your questions.
      View B top is actually this one . I used a very drap-y knit to achieve this affect.
      I wouldn't recommend using this method for woven fabrics because the pattern I get you to draft doesn't have the underarm part of the sleeve. For woven fabrics you really need to use the method I mention in the beginning of Part 1 of the tutorial, where you simply elongate the top of your sleeve bloc or sloper.
      I'm glad you liked the tutorial and I would love it if you posted a link towards your finished ruched sleeves here when you're done! Happy sewing!


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