The Sofia cap, elbow and bishop sleeves

August 27, 2020

Sleeve with shirring sewn along hem edge

Welcome back to the Sofia sew-along! In the last post, we sewed shirring on the bodice, which means you're all sew up for sewing shirring on the sleeves.

In this post, we will be sewing the bishop, cap, and elbow sleeves for the Sofia pattern. These sleeves all involve shirring and share similar construction steps. First, we will prepare the hem, then we will sew the shirring, and finally, we'll sew the side seam and hem. Let's get started.

Preparing the Sleeve Hem

Cap & Elbow Sleeve:

  • Pre-press the hem of the sleeve. Turn the hem edge towards the wrong side by 3/8" (1 cm) and press. Turn the edge in again by 3/8" (1 cm) and press.

    The hem will be sewn in a later step. Pressing it when the sleeve is flat makes this step easier than when the sleeve is sewn in the round.

Hem of a sleeve being pressed pressed hem edge of a sleeve


Bishop Sleeve:

  • Finish the hem edge with a serge or zig-zag stitch.
  • Turn the hem edge towards the wrong side by 3/4" (cm) and press.
  • The Bishop Sleeve hem will be sewn in place as the shirring is sewn near the hem edge.

sleeve hem being pressed

Marking the shirring guidelines

Before sewing the shirring, prepare the guidelines for the shirring stitches. If you are marking chalk guidelines, mark all lines onto the sleeve pieces.

If you are using a guide foot, draw the first line as a guide, and use the pressure foot as a guide for the remaining shirring lines. If you are sewing the Bishop sleeve with the guide foot, it is not necessary to draw the first guideline, as you can use the em edge as your initial guide. 

  • To mark the sleeve, place the sleeve right side up.

Cap & Elbow Sleeve:

  • The notches along the side edge indicate the placement of the shirring lines.

    Bishop Sleeve:

    • The notches along the side edge, nearest the hem, mark the placement for the first and last shirring lines. Space the other lines 1/2" (1.3 cm) apart in between these notches.

    fabric being marked with chalk and ruler


    Shirring the Sleeve

    • With the sleeve facing right side up, sew the shirring using the continuous method.
    Review of the Continuous method:
      • Begin the first line of shirring with a backstitch and stitch the first line.
      • Stop the stitch 1/4" (6mm) away from the side edge. Lift the pressure foot.
      • Pivot the foot in the direction of the side edge. Adjust the stitch length to 2.5". This reduced stitch length will reduce the amount of shirring stretch, and allow you to "skip" to the next row of shirring without shirring the side seam edge. Sew 6-7 stitches along the side edge, so that you will now be 1/2" (1.3 cm) away from the previous shirring stitch.
      • Increase your stitch length back to your previous shirring setting. Continue sewing the next line of shirring.

    Cap and Elbow Sleeve:

    • For the Cap and Elbow Sleeve styles, sew the four lines of shirring.

    fabric being sewn

    four rows of elastic shirring lines

     sleeve with shirring sewn near hem

    Bishop Sleeve:

    • Sew the first shirring stitch near the hem edge of the sleeve. This stitch will secure the folded edge, completing the hem.

    sleeve being hemmed with a shirring stitch

    • Sew all the rows of shirring using the continuous shirring method,

    Sleeve with several rows of shirring


    Bishop, Cap & Elbow Puff Sleeve - Sewing the Sleeve Seam

    Cap & Elbow Sleeve:

    • Fold the sleeve right sides together. Unfold the hem of the sleeve, and pin the side edges together. Sew at 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance. Finish the seam with a serge or zig-zag stitch.

    sleeve side seam being sewn


    Bishop Sleeve:

    • Fold the sleeve right sides together. At the hem of the sleeve, make sure that the folded hem edges match precisely. Pin the side edges together and sew at 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance. Finish the seam with a serge or zig-zag stitch.

    sleee side seam being sewn

    • Once the sleeve seam is sewn, at the hem of the sleeve, turn the seam allowance over to one side. At the hem, stitch the sleeve seam allowance in place along the seam.

    Cap & Elbow Puff Sleeve - Sewing the hem

    • Edgestitch the hem, sewing at a scant 3/8" (1 cm). Press the finished hem.
        Sewing the sleeve Seam
        • Fold the sleeve right sides together. Pin and sew along the side edge of the sleeve at 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance.
        • Finish the seam using a serge or zig-zag stitch.

        Sleeve hem

        The next step for the sleeve is to attach them to the bodice and sew the elastic bias channel. We'll cover these steps in another post so stay tuned.

        Now that the sleeves are complete, we're finished with shirring! In the next tutorial we will complete the Sofia bodice.

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