What do neckties and sleeve caps have in common?

I know I’ve talked about sleeve heads before.  Those are bias cut strips (or other configurations) of fabric that help your sleeves hold their shape without crushing and wrinkling.  They fill in the space at the top of the sleeve cap and allow it to roll over at the top of your armscye.

Clear as mud?  Read on.

Having left 5/8″ seam allowances and quite a bit of ease on my new jacket’s sleeve cap, I knew I’d have to do something drastic to get the sleeves into the jacket.  My usual 3/8″ seams and tiny cap ease make it easy to set sleeves–the feed dogs do all the work.  Not so with the 5/8ths seams and lots of ease in this sleeve.

Fortunately my JFRP book reminded me of the (neck)tie interfacing method of easing sleeve caps. I had used it before and even had most of a yard of the interfacing to work with.  I first heard about it back in the mists of time on a sewing board, so I was glad to see it set forth clearly in print with photographs.

The good thing about this method–or I should say one of the good things about this method, is that the interfacing also functions as a sleeve head in the finished sleeve.  I took some photos, in case you are unfamiliar with the method and don’t have your own copy of Jackets for Real People.

First, cut a 12″ x 1.5″ bias strip of necktie interfacing. I got mine at the Silhouette Patterns booth at the Atlanta Expo in 2006. I see that they sell it online, as well.
I suppose you could also take some old neckties apart and save the interfacing for this purpose…
Align the strip of interfacing along the top edge of the sleeve cap, starting at the ease notch.  Begin sewing with a 5/8ths inch seam allowance and a 4mm stitch length.
As you sew, stretch the interfacing.  This will cause the bias strip to pull away from the edge of the sleeve cap.  Let the interfacing pull away, but do be sure to keep the cap to 5/8ths inch seam allowance.
When you get to the other ease notch on the sleeve cap, stop sewing, even if you haven’t reached the end of the interfacing.  Your sleeve cap will be shaped just right to fit into the armhole.
You’ll be amazed how wonderfully the sleeve will fit into the armhole.  This one was just pinned when the photo was taken, but it sewed in perfectly.