Nicki LaFoille

Flat Sleeve Insertion Technique

Nicki LaFoille
Sign in
Duration:   5  mins

Learn how to use the flat sleeve insertion technique when inserting a sleeve cap into the armscye of a set-in sleeve. This technique also combines several steps in making a garment, to streamline the process. Nicki LaFoille shows you how.

This technique is especially useful for small garments, where the armscye is a small circle, and can be difficult to get under the presser foot and make it difficult to see if there are unwanted tucks happening in the seam. It is also useful for garments that have a lot of ease built into the sleeve cap.

For the flat sleeve insertion technique, stitch the bodice shoulder seams, but do not stitch the side seams or the sleeve underarm seam.

Follow the pattern instructions for basting the sleeve cap, if applicable. Then match the notches from the sleeve to the armscye with right sides together. Then, stitch the sleeve cap into the armscye. If there is a lot of ease in the sleeve cap, it can be beneficial to stitch with the sleeve facing up, so you can be sure there aren’t any tucks getting stitched into the seam.

Once the sleeve cap is inserted into the armscye, you can stitch the side seam and underarm seam all at once. Beginning at the lower edge, stitch the side seam. At the armscye point, end with the needle down in the seam and pivot to stitch the underarm seam at the required seam allowance.

Many commercial patterns add an excessive amount of ease into a sleeve cap, which is not always necessary, especially in more casual garments, such as knits. Check out this video to learn how to remove ease from a sleeve cap and other tips for sewing sleeves for a better fit.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

3 Responses to “Flat Sleeve Insertion Technique”

  1. Sylvia

    Makes sense. I will use that technique. Thanks


    I learned from a factory floor supervisor how to ease sleeves by hand manipulation rather than fooling around with basting, gathering, and adjusting. Pinless sewing is the method and holding the fabric properly according to the physical properties of the sewing machine is guaranteed to work! I then taught the method for several years in my fabric store. The technique should be a staple in learning how to work with the feed dogs!

  3. Sharon McKinney

    I found it easier to put the sleeve in with the sleeve face down instead of facing up like she did. The feed dog in the throat plate will gather/ease the excess fabric into the arm hole better than doing it from the top.

Get exclusive premium content! Sign up for a membership now!