Friday, July 10, 2015

Installing a sleeve vent

One of the things I found when I went to make my first couple frock coats is that there roughly no tutorials on exactly how you put together the vent on a working suit sleeve.  So, during the process of stitchripping over a dozen assorted blazers for the Franken-frock project, I paid attention to how the sleeves were constructed.  I'm not saying this tutorial is the only way to do it--or even the right way--but it'll work.
    None of them had working buttons, of course, but the construction is close enough--the main difference is in the lining.
 Alright.  Your sleeve pieces should look approximately like this.  When you draft, you need to add enough length to double up on the vent.  If you didn't, you can always sew on a piece to be the facing.

 Sew up the forearm seam.  Simple.

 Now, turn up the cuff facing and press.  It may or may not be a straight line--up to you, really.  Using your standard seam allowance, turn the cuff right sides together and sew up the underarm side.  Press that seam allowance flat (it isn't pressed yet in the photo).
Now to deal with the topsleeve side.  If your fabric is fine, you may need to put a piece of light canvas under the area we're working to help support the buttonholes.  Interfacing the cuff with a light fusible interfacing also seems to be common.
You need to mitre the corner.  Fold the side piece in all the way to the seam line of the sleeve (press lightly if desired) and pin in place.  Now...miter, pinching the cloth so that it looks like the picture.  Chalk a line on both sides.

Now turn the facing so that the right sides are together and match up the chalk lines you made.  Chalk another line on this side so you know where the seam goes.

Sew along that seam.  I trimmed my seam allowances, but it is not necessary, particularly if using a lighter fabric.

Turn the corner.  Press heavily---make that sucker flat.

Now it is time to sew up the hindarm seam.  do so, matching up the vent.  Sew over the doubled seam allowance of the underarm side (shown on top)--the topsleeve vent will extend past it.  You will need to clip the corner on the underarm side of the seam, in order to press the seam flat.

 Ok--you pressed the seam with a seam roll, right?
    Now cross stitch the facing down.  Your stitches should not go through to the right side of the fabric--this is where that interfacing comes in handy.  I am working with a woolen, so it is possible to hide the stitches.  You can barely see them--I should have done this in a contrasting colour for you.  The cross stitch covers more of the raw edge than other hemstitches.
    See This video if you don't know how to do this variation of cross stitch.

 At this point you can install the lining.  Pin (or baste) the sleeve heads together and pull the cuff through.  It should be a little longer (plus enough for a single turn hem) than the point where the facing stops--in this case, I didn't make it any longer, simply because it is a rather heavy material for a sleeve.  Pin it into submission, and sew it down with a slip-stitch
On the underside of the vent, the lining should be sewn close to the edge.  On the other side, you need to leave the section of facing, so manipulate the fabric to be close to the raw edge of the fabric.

See this post by the Victorian Tailor on a different (and probably more correct) way of installing the sleeve lining.

That's it!  How you install the sleeve to the body is a completely different matter.  Just remember to baste until you get the pitch correct--however many times it takes...

I'm not going to discuss attaching the buttons and buttonholes--tutorials on those are easy to find.

© John Frey, 2015. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.

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