Thread Theory

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Finlayson Sew-Along: Sewing the sleeves and side seams


Happy Friday!  I hope your collars and hoods turned out well.  Today we’ll be adding the sleeves to our sweaters and sewing the side seams.  You’ll be able to try your sweater on by the time you’re done this session of sewing!DSC03677

The sleeve pieces include a double notch on one side and a single notch on the other.  Double notches always signify the ‘back’ of a garment and, in this case, they match with the double notches on the sweater back armhole.DSC03679 DSC03681

Pin the first sleeve to the sweater with right sides together and notches matching.  You might want to use quite a few pins to help the sleeve contort to the shape of the armhole.DSC03683

Sew this seam slowly, adjusting the fabric to keep the raw edges lined up as you go.


I sewed the seam with a reinforced stretch stitch and finished the seam with a zig zag stitch.

If you’d like, you can trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk along the sleeve seam.  Press this seam towards the sleeve (as pictured below).DSC03689 DSC03691

And now it’s time to stitch our side seams (one of the most exciting parts of sewing a garment, in my opinion!  Our sweater is finally taking shape!).  Pin the side seams and arms with right sides together.  Take extra special care to match the armhole seam.

I stitched the whole seam using the usual reinforced stretch stitch and finishing the seam with a zig zag stitch.DSC03708

Depending on what stitch you used, you can either press the entire seam open or you can press the seam allowances towards the back.


Since the sleeves and side seams are the same process for Variation One and Variation Two, I’ll include only the relevant pictures to show you the serging on this version:DSC03668 DSC03669

Press the serged sleeve heads towards the sleeve.

I also serged the side seams and pressed them towards the back:

Well, that’s it for today!  A fast and easy one :).  Come back on Monday to finish our sweaters – WOOT WOOT!  I’m so excited to see the sweaters that you are working on.

2 thoughts on “Finlayson Sew-Along: Sewing the sleeves and side seams

  1. Hello, I enjoyed following your SewAlong even though I do not have the pattern and did not sew it. I have a question though about sewing reinforced seams and/or reinforced stretch seams. What happens if after sewing the reinforced seam, you find that you made a mistake and need to rip out the seam, because of bunching or pinching of fabric? I find sewing arm seams to be challenging, at times. One thought I have is that it might be easier to sew a basting-type stitch or a stitch with a long seam length. Then, if the arm seam, for example, fits well, you could go back and sew a more permanent, reinforced stretch stitch or serge a reinforced safety stitch.
    What is your thought or experience with this situation? Do you find stretch stitches much more difficult and “messy” un sew as compared to a regular stitch? I find that for collars and shoulders, my first attempt at the seam is often not acceptable to me, and I need to redo all or part of it. Do you have any suggestions or advice for this problem?
    Many thanks for the SewAlong and for your thoughts!
    Have a great day,

    • Hi Michael,
      VERY good points! Yes, if you often find yourself sewing seams several times to make sure they are perfect, I HIGHLY recommend basting before stitching your seams. The reinforced stretch stitch (or triple stitch) is quite difficult to take out if you need to re-do the seam and zig zag stitches can even be slightly annoying to stitch rip. I tend to pin my seams thoroughly and thus don’t find myself needing to baste seams but really it just comes down to personal preference. If you find basting seams gives you more confidence and reduces the time that you would otherwise use picking out incorrect seams then baste away and you will be a much happier sewer! :). If your fabric is quite stretchy and you find the basting is limiting the stretch of the seams after you have sewn your seam using your final style of stitch, it is advisable to remove the basting so that the seam can stretch fully.

      Other than basting or pinning, one way to avoid having to stitch rip seams when sewing with knits is to pause often while sewing to re-adjust the alignment of your seam. This may sound obvious but it’s worth saying anyways. I find, when I sew with knits, that I am pausing and fiddling with the fabric and even re-pinning seams twice as much as I would with most wovens. This really helps prevent unwanted pinching and tucking because I can adjust my easing and pressure on the fabric so neither of the layers are being pulled and stretched more than the other.

      Happy sewing!

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