Because many friends bemoan gathers and setting in sleeves aka "sleevils", I decided to try and document setting in the sleeve for TV 455 1830s Romantic Dress. This is how I machine sew in gathered sleeves which is a late 20th century technique and not a historical Romantic/Victorian technique. If this interests you, my steps are below. May they be of help with your gathered sleeves.

Many sleeves already have some markings with two notches for the back and one notch for the front being common. TV 455 sleeves are very full and are the same both front and back. The sleeve seam will match up with the bodice side seam.


Fold the sleeve in half and mark the top or center.

Fold the sleeve again (to make quarters) and mark the sides.

Mark Sleeve

Sew the side seam and finish edges.

Make sure the bobbin has enough thread to baste the the whole sleeve. Baste the top of the sleeve on the seam line (1/2" for TV 455). Keep the thread ends long.

Baste gathers

Baste again, 1/4" from the first basting towards the edge.

Basted gathers 1/4 inch apart

If the bodice is not piped, sew around the armhole on the seam line (1/2" for TV 455)

Take the bodice armhole and fold in half from the side seam. Mark the top/half mark.

Mark Armhole top

Fold in half from the side seam and top marking to find and mark the quarters.

Mark Armhole front and back at quarter marks

With the bodice right side out, pin sleeve underarm seam to bodice side seam.. Pin front and backs at quarter marks.

Pin sleeve underarm seam to bodice side seam. Pin front and backs at quarter marks.

Do half of the sleeve gathers at a time.
Pull the two gather strings enough to be able to wrap the string around your fingers.

Wrap string around fingers and slide fabric along strings to gather

Then slide the fabric along the strings to make the gathers. This may take (years of) practice. Keep tension on the thread without pulling too much. Pulling hard on the thread will break it. With full gathers, you may need to rewrap the thread ends around your fingers as you gather.
BTW, sliding the fabric past the pinned quarter/mid mark without dislodging the pin is advanced.


Once the gathered sleeve fabric matches the armhole, pin near the thread ends and wrap the thread several times around the pin in and infinity loop to lock the thread and keep the gathers from sliding out.

Wrap thread around pin near thread ends to lock threads

Slide the gathers in the threads between the marks to even out the gathers.

Hold the top of the gathered edge and armhole edge and pull the gathers from the sleeve side to get the gathers to set better and fix any that were folding under funny. (No photo because ran out of hands. See video.)

Pin, pin, pin.

Pin Sleeve Gathers to Bodice

Turn sleeve and bodice so that gathered sleeve is on the inside.

Turn so that bodice now faces out and sleeve is inside

If your machine has an arm, prepare the arm.

Stitch the armhole on the seam line on the bodice armhole. While sewing, use your fingers to push the sleeve portion under and to the left. For added measure, baste first, take a look at the sleeve, rip and restitch any wrinkles or folded bits.

Sew bodice and sleeve together

Stitch again, 1/8" away. Then zigzag over the stitching 1/8" seam.

Sew again 1/8 inch away and then zigzag over that stitching

Check sleeve to make sure that there are no wrinkles or folded sewn bits. If there are any mistakes, rip them out and resew that portion.

Check Sleeve

Trim to the zigzag.

Trim Sleeve

Turn sleeve out.