Today Claire checked the calico sleeves we had fitted, and explained when we put in the real sleeve we should mount the top fabric on to lawn to stop it from stretching and add a facing on the cuff using a 2-4 cm bias strip. Remember to always set the sleeve in to the bodice, not the bodice in to the sleeve.

The sleeve seams can be overlocked if they need to be finished quickly or seams can be turned back and hand slip stitched for a better finish. The facing and the seam neatening should be done before fitting the sleeve to make it easier to handle.

Claire also gave us instructions for seam neatening on the sleeve and the bodice, and what we had to do for the piping that would go round the top and bottom of the bodice, and what fastenings to use. I spent the rest of the class helping with fittings, and cutting out the sleeve layers.

Seam neatening

For the vertical seams:

  1. trim seam allowance
  2. grade under layers
  3. turn back top layer
  4. and slip stitch.

For the armholes:

  1. trim to 10mm seam allowance
  2. pin
  3. hand tack in place


This would be used on the top and bottom seams. It helps to reinforce these edges and having the cords in the piping, allows you to ease in the the neckline if it slightly gapes or does not sit flat against the body.

  • use 00/01 cotton piping
  • pipe all the way round from edge to edge
  • for lighter fabrics double up by folding in half. The folded edge will give a nicer finish on the inside.
  • do not under cut the cord, leave long to give you something to grab
  • to finish unpick slightly, turn back the bias fabric and then resew to the edge


My bodice will have a centre front opening where the two centre front edges meet,  so I will just be using hooks and eyes up the front. There openings could be laced or where the fabrics overlap, hooks and bars would be used.

Buttons were rarely used as funtional fastenings in this period. As buttons were often used on military uniforms and so were considered quite unfeminine.

  • hooks should be placed on the left side as the actress would be dressed by someone else
  • placing should be roughly 25mm apart. Close to the edge, but set back slightly.
  • for fittings, use 5 stitches around each ring of the hook or loop to hold in place
  • once position is correct, stitch firmly in place covering the whole ring with thread. Use a stab stitch to firmly hold in place.