Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Sleeve Details

I'm a huge fan of piping and was heavily influenced by those ads Cynthia Guffey did for the sewing machine companies back in the 80s.  Not only were the dresses impeccably sewn with matching piping at the neckline and armholes but then they would have this awesome embroidery running down the side or at the hemline. Does anyone remember those ads, besides me?

So I've been adding piping to garments for years trying to perfect that look...and now twenty years later I have my own method (culled from reading books, taking classes and by trial and error) for inserting the piping into sleeve hems. This isn't the only way that I do this process but this is the simpler application and let me add the disclaimer here...I'm sure that there are more professional, correct, by the book ways of inserting the pipingThis is just how I do it.  Sherry, who authors the blog, "Pattern...Cloth...Scissors" just posted a tutorial on how to make piping from beginning to end and add it to a waistline seam.  I would definitely check out her tutorial! 

Okay now that we've gotten that out of the way, first after cutting the pattern out, I cut 1.5" off the sleeve hem and set the strip to the side.

Then I hand stitch the piping 5/8" onto the edge of the sleeve 
leaving about a 1/2" of piping on either side.

The strip that was cut off was serged on both sides.
Next the strip was pinned to the sleeve's hem covering the piping.

Sewing the piped edge down using my zipper foot.

I use my bamboo point turner to mark a seam line as close
as possible to the piping so I'm sewing right up next to the piping.

Right side of piping inserted in the sleeve's hemline

Wrong side of piping inserted into the sleeve's hemline

The sleeves with the underarm seams sewn but not yet pressed open.

The underarm seam is pressed flat.  The extra piping cut off and 
finished with a seam sealant (Fray Check) and then
stitch witchery is placed under the seam and pressed.

The finished sleeve in the dress after a line 
of stitching has been added close to the piping.

Again, this is one of the ways that I apply piping to sleeve hems.  The other method involves applying the piping in the sleeve hem with the underarm seam sewn so that the piping is encased in the hem and the process can be found in this post.  

I will admit that after all the hand stitching I did in the dress that I got lazy at the end.  If I were a "couture" sewist, I would have gone the extra mile and encased the piping.  But last Sunday I wasn't...and since I sealed the cut piping ends and stabilized the seam, I'm not worried about the piping fraying.  Now, I'm not recommending that you follow me off the cliff, I'm just showing you what I did in this garment.

As a follow-up, I've finished the lined flare skirt from the Ten Yard Adventure Wardrobe and I've cut out a wide legged pair of pants too.  I know they need some type of lining because they are a little see-through, I just don't want to lose the drapiness of the fabric, so I'm working this through in my head. always, more later!


  1. Thank you Carolyn, for the tutorial on piping. I'm afraid I missed Cynthia Guffey's commercials. Which machine company did she advertise for? (Love that herringbone.)

  2. Very nice. One question, thought, do you preshrink your piping? And yes, I am old enough to remember Cynthia Guffey but can't remember the company, either.

  3. Great explanation. I love the look of piping. You've really simplified a fantastic technique. TFS

  4. I'll definitely be coming back to this tute. The more techniques I can learn, the more choice I have when I'm sewing so I really do appreciate your explanations.
    The fabric you've chosen is definitely a good choice.

  5. I'm all for "if it works"... and you've worked out a great piping technique!

  6. Regarding applying piping, have you tried an industrial piping foot on your machine? The piping sits in a groove on foot giving very close stitching. Great for curves and corners. SheilaC2

  7. Thanks Carolyn, it's great to see how experienced sewists do things!

  8. Hi Carolyn I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You needn't participate if it's not your thing(I even modified the requirements to suit me lol) but I just wanted to let you know. Details on my blog, just click on my name.

  9. Beautiful dress, Carolyn! I love the piping detail and the bias inset. Bypassing the couture step looked like a good idea to me!

  10. Thank you for the tutorial! I so admire what you know how to do. Also I have the same set of dressforms as the one in your picture, aren't they cute?

  11. Thanks for the tutorial - I always like your piped finishes, you're right, they look so - well - finished! I was wondering a bit on how to do the sleeves, and your method is so easy and obvious now that I've seen it. Do/would you ever remove the "stuffing" from the part of the piping that will go into the seam allowance? I've done that on some homedec to reduce the bulk, but that piping was much heavier than garment piping.

  12. I'd probably remember those ads if I saw them, but right now - not so much.

    Do you have a method to keep the Fray Check from getting hard and scratchy? I used it once on something other than tiny thread ends and I couldn't wear the garment more. That was years ago, so maybe it's changed since then?

    Thanks for the binding tips!

  13. Thank you for this tutorial. What a nice detail!

  14. Partial lining for the trousers. You only have to line to about mid-thigh to achieve opacity, and to leave the rest of the leg beautifully drapey and air-circulatish.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this process!! I have wondered how to get piping in a sleeve hem and now I cannot wait to give it a go.

    Thanks again!

  16. Great technique Carolyn! I love piping too and this process is very simple and oh so clear! Thank you for the tip!

  17. I love piping details too. It can subtly or boldly accent a seam or edge, depending on the fabric used. I remember those Cynthia ads and even saw some of the garment up close in Cynthia's booth at a sewing expo… gorgeous. I also took a piping class with her where we inserted piping in the neckline of a dress. I recall seeing the sample in my sewing mess the other day. It involved a lot of hand basting, careful clipping and seam grading, but it was perfection.

  18. Thanks for sharing Carolyn. Beautiful detail.

    I've added a link to your tutorial on the Sewing Tutorials blog. Hope you're ok with that.

  19. That is a nice technique! I like the small hem facing, it is less obtrusive than a larger strip would be.

  20. Excellent tutorial. You know I had to google Cynthia Guffey. ;-)

  21. Thanks for mentioning my tutorial Carolyn! I love how you've used piping on your dress - it's one of my favourite touches too!


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