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Tips & Techniques > "Crowding" to ease a sleeve cap

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Posted by: Alana Robson

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Member since: 4/1/02
Reviews: 35 (tips: 2)
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Posted on: 1/27/03 1:25 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 5 people   Very Helpful by 28 people   
Sometimes you find fabrics which do not ease very well using the "two rows of basting stitches" technique. Even the tiniest bit of gathering causes puckers and tucks. Try this instead: Using a regular stitch length, stitch just inside the seam line (eg. at 1/2" if you have 5/8" seam allowances). As you stitch, hold or "crowd" the fabric by holding your finger at the back of the presser foot. The fabric will appear to gather up between your finger and the presser foot. Increase needle tension if necessary to get the fabric to ease. Sew sleeve into armhole as usual.

The first time I tried this I was skeptical but I was amazed at how much was eased in, with no puckers at all.

Sandra Betzina is very fond of this technique on her television show and in Power Sewing Step-by-Step.

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annamm said... (10/3/11 6:35 AM) Reply

annamm said... (10/3/11 6:34 AM) Reply
I had read about this technique in books and magazines and gave it a try after reading about it again in Nancy Zieman's book Sewing A to Z. Why has it taken me so long to give it a try? It's fantastic.
French.Seam said... (1/6/10 2:30 PM) Reply
I wish I'd done this
katie lynne said... (7/25/09 4:59 PM) Reply
dupe :o(
katie lynne said... (7/25/09 4:58 PM) Reply
Additional note: If you make sure the longer piece (in this case, the sleeve) is UNDER the shorter piece (in this case, the front/back) as you're sewing, the feed dogs will naturally help to ease because the dogs will pull more on the piece immediately above them! (Don't think most of us are taught that fact when we're first learning to sew.)
craftygamma said... (8/8/08 4:13 PM) Reply
I have used this for years also. Another thing to know is always start your crowding stitch row at the front of the sleeve, as it will gather more as more fabric builds up behind the presser foot. That way you have more ease in the back of the sleeve where you need it for arm movement. Instead of using my finger (ouch), I use a pink eraser--the kind that is tapered on both ends and just hold it behind the presser foot. Dee
Janime said... (8/9/06 8:09 AM) Reply
This little tip saved my sanity. I'm a beginning sewer and my first try at using the basting method was extremely frustrating. I just could not get the material to work with the basting stitches. The 2nd time around, I tried this method. It worked BEAUTIFULLY!!!!!!! It was SO much faster in easier to get the sleeve in. THANKS!!!!!
sewywabbit said... (3/24/05 2:06 PM) Reply
I have been doing this for years, just wanted to note that it is a little trickier with a dual feed Pfaff, as the disengaged foot keeps wanting to "eat" your finger, but its doable. Ease about 2 inches at a time, let it go and start over.
Leslie in Austin said... (1/20/05 11:16 AM) Reply
I've a tremendous fan of this technique! I've used it for everything from matte jersey to faux suede. One little addition to your description: I recommend gently iron pressing the crowding stitch before setting in the sleeves.
Elisabetha said... (8/21/04 12:31 PM) Reply
I also use this technique since having read Sandra Betzina books; it really is great and much simpler than sewing the usual 2 rows of gathering sttches.
Debspuncturedthumb said... (4/26/03 7:24 PM) Reply
This is an oldie but goodie technique that can also be found in The Bishop Method c.1959. Thanks for mentioning it!
Gigi Louis said... (1/28/03 11:07 AM) Reply
This is such a great technique! LeAnn, I've been doing this for years as well and it hasn't harmed any of my machines.
Dale C said... (1/27/03 10:50 PM) Reply
This is great! Also, if it didn't ease enough the first time, you can do a second row right next to the first one and it'll ease a little more fabric. Great tip for those set in sleeves Alana! Thanks!
NancyDaQ said... (1/27/03 6:46 PM) Reply
I have been doing this technique and it hasn't done any harm to either of my machines. The foot isn't wobbly with either one.
Loreli said... (1/27/03 3:59 PM) Reply
What I did the other day on a blouse sleeve was taking from the same material and cut it on the bias about an inc wide, and from dot to dot stich it just inside the seamline of the sleevecap and pull it while you stitch and it came out very good. Through the pulling of the bias it takes the sleevecap in and at the same time you have a nice sleeve from the right side.
LeAnn said... (1/27/03 2:04 PM) Reply
I have used this for many years. Now someone told me this is very hard on your pressure foot. Any opinion on that? My machine is just a cheap Brother, but I do notice the foot wobbles a little.
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