I’ve been making a BurdaStyle shirt in a fairly transparent electric blue muslin. Burda’s instructions were great, for once. None of that reading everything seven times before it even starts to make sense. Considering I’ve never made anything with a collar stand before that’s a pretty good recommendation.

However BurdaStyle doesn’t tell you things like how to finish the seams, assuming you know roughly what you’re doing. Most of the seams in the shirt are enclosed around the yoke and collar areas so those weren’t an issue, and I’d decided in advance to use french seams for the side seams, but then I got to this instruction:

Set in sleeves, easing sleeve caps

OK, fine, I know how to set in sleeves (best of three anyway), but how do you finish the armscye seam in a sheer shirt? All my sewing books said it’s not a good idea to do curved french seams because the seam allowances get too bulky. So in the absence of any other suggestions I got out my two remaining ready-to-wear shirts and a shirtdress, plus a few of my husband’s shirts, and had a look at how they were finished.

This is one of his shirts. All of them had flat-felled seams. However, in my clothes it was quite different.

 This is the shirtdress, which is a fairly hefty cotton fabric. The seam allowances are just overlocked together.
That probably doesn’t matter on the dress because you can’t see the seam from the outside, but rather to my surprise my two shirts were also finished like that, even though the fabric is quite lightweight.

This blouse is pretty sheer but I’d honestly never noticed the seam finish before. I wondered if this was because it’s a blouse and doesn’t have quite the same styling as men’s shirts. However my fairly masculine white shirt (no picture) also has the same finish.

 So here’s how the Burda shirt ended up.

Vogue Sewing, my normal guide, says sternly that this armscye finish is only seen on ‘cheap ready-to-wear’! However I’m not convinced there’s anything wrong with it. I’ve never noticed the lack of flat-felled seams on my RTW shirts as unusual or annoying. I wonder if the fact that all my husband’s shirts have flat-felled seams and mine don’t is just one of those differences between mens’ clothes and womens’. If you’re wearing a shirt, check your armscyes!

3 thoughts on “Armscyes

  1. great observation!! i often refer to my RTW clothes for help with my own decision making but never thought to blog about it. This is great reference. Thanks,

  2. I aim for neat, clean, nicely sewn, well fitted and don’t worry about ideas around what is cheap and what is expensive RTW because the “rules” are so constantly changing. Poorly sewn and fitted French seams would be far worse in my opinion. Looks great.

  3. I don’t know anything at all about this. I wish I did, then I could be of some help, but alas…

    However, I can tell you that I just checked the shirt that happens to be sat right beside me, awaiting ironing (could be waiting a long time, since I only ever get the iron out for dressmaking!) and it’s flat-felled. It’s a lightweight checked Monsoon shirt.

    I agree with Myrna. Very good point.

    Anyway, let’s see your new shirt, then!

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