Perfecting Negroni’s – Be Gone Bumpy Flat Felled Armscye Seams!

Rocket Man Negroni

Dear Brother CherryPix celebrated a significant birthday this year! And of course, as the Sister Who Sews, I set out to make him a present he’d never get elsewhere: A Rocket Man Negroni Shirt!  (PS: it does button up evenly, he’s just pulled it out of alignment with hands in pockets!)

Out came one of my favourite patterns, Collette’s Negroni Shirt for men. This was the first button down shirt pattern I ever sewed and thanks to the excellent instructions, the experience was very satisfying! The fact that the Negroni’s I’ve made have all been worn repeatedly by the recipients makes this pattern even more pleasant to use!

Mr CherryPix got one for his birthday, too!

photo 1

While I haven’t achieved some of my sewing goals this year (work intervened and nixed my attendance at the Australian Sewing Guild Convention in Sydney this year (severe pouts) and I haven’t ventured far into pants making cos I’m a chicken), I HAVE been working on perfecting my shirt making skills, which I said I was going to do! And I feel like I’m making progress!

Particularly with improving the look of flat felled armscye seams! My first few versions were bumpy, no matter how much I pressed them! By chance, I found a great post addressing this issue on Handmade by Carolyn’s blog! Thank you, Carolyn!

You can see the improvement in these pictures (on a number of fronts, but let’s just focus on the armscyes today!) Granted, the heavier the fabric, the more likely the ‘bumps’, but the first two shirts are finer cottons than the third heavier cotton – yet I think the third is slightly less bumpy. I began applying Carolyn’s techniques with Negroni 3 (the Dragonfly Negroni). The fourth is a luscious Liberty Tana Lawn, and of course, it behaved beautifully! (Just pulled these out of the closet to take pics…they were pressed before they went in there…hmmm.)

Negroni 1 – Olive

Negroni 1

Negroni 2 – Teal

Negroni 2

Negroni 3 – Dragonflies

Negroni 3.1

Negroni 4 – Liberty Blues

Negroni 3

Negroni 5 – Rocket Man – this one worked the best!

Opening pressies

Here’s what I did:

Step 1 – Sewed a line of stitching 1/4″ from fabric edge.

Line of stitching quarter inch from edge

Step 2 – Pressed a 1/4 fold along the stitching line. I used the EZ Shirtmaker* for this. Great for a crisp fold, particularly with curves. Just be careful not to touch the metal just after you’ve pressed – it’s VERY hot! *I’d normally insert a link for this, but I’m not sure they are still in production? I got mine from SACurve, but I don’t think that business is still in existence?

Pressing quarter inch fold 2 Pressing quarter inch fold

You can also download files from the Scientific Seamstress to make fold templates, for both straight edges and curved edges.

Sewing Seamstress Folding Template

Or you could make one like my fancy-schmancy fold template – a piece of sturdy cardboard with depth lines drawn at 1/4″, 3/8th”, 1/2″, 5/8th” etc. The cardboard / paper templates are not so burn-y on the fingers but also not quite as good for crisp folds.

Fancy hem pressing tool 2.2

Here’s what it looks like when the fold is pressed:

Quarter inch fold ready for flat felling

Step 3  (this is after I sewed the sleeve to the body of the shirt and pressed the seam allowance towards the body of the shirt)
The 1/4″fold I pressed before sewing the sleeve to the shirt body laid nicely flat.
I used an edge foot to sew the ”fell’ seam, running the blade along the edge of the 1/4″ fold.
In some places you can see the first line of stitching made in Step 1 (note to self: more practice on pressing curved seams and trying Carolyn’s tip about making tiny clips in curved seam allowance)

Flat felling with edge foot 1

Here’s what it looked like on the inside

Flat felled shoulder seam from inside 2

And here’s the outside view…yeah! Not as many ‘bumps’!  (and I am pleased to report the bumps were minimal after washing/pressing too)

Flat felled shoulder seam - right side 2

I’m keen to hear of any other tricks and tips for flat felling curved seams!! Please share!