"Ease to fit" language for attaching arms to sweater

Hi Knitters,
I am in the final stages of knitting a dress for my baby daughter and the pattern says “sew sleeves into armholes, easing to fit.” When I finished both arms, the portion that will be attached to the arm holes on the garment is a lot shorter than the length of the arm hole itself. So when the pattern calls for you to “ease to fit”, what exactly does that mean? And do you have any tips for attaching an arm that seems a bit shorter (in circumference) than the arm hole? I did manage to attach one arm but I noticed there is a bit of puckering. I may have pulled too tight on the thread as I was sewing it on.

The pattern is from Erika Knight, Natural Nursery Knits, Dress and Pants.

Thanks so much for all your help!

Have you blocked all the pieces per the yarn label? That is often a good way to stretch (or shrink) things to make them fit.

I assume that the sleeves at their current width will easily fit you daughter and this is more a matter of appearance? “Ease to fft” gives you a little leeway but usually the ease is due to a sleeve that is slightly larger than the armhole opening. It’s worth checking to make sure the one sewn in sleeve isn’t sewn too tightly since that might well be causing the puckering.
Antares suggestion to block the sleeves a little larger is a good one if this is a wool yarn. Otherwise I would try extending the sleeve cap shaping to make the cap slightly longer. You don’t have to rip out down to the armhole bind off, just go past the top part shaping at the cap. If the sleeve is bound off straight across, you would have to rip out an inch or two and increase at the sides until the top of the sleeve is wide enough to fit.
Can you post a link to the pattern?

Thank you both for your insight. I was about to block my pieces but am actually working with Rowan fine milk cotton yarn so I’m guessing that there might not be much shaping that I can do if I were to block but please let me know if I am wrong. Are there any other techniques I could use to create the same “blocking” effect on cotton? Does it help to wash the garment’s pieces before I sew everything together? The puckering isn’t all that terrible and I’m thinking that if I don’t pull too hard on the yarn while sewing the arms on, I might be ok. By the way, I 'm crocheting the sleeves on if that makes any difference. That said, I’d like to show you the pattern below in case you have any other suggestions for me. I’ve come so far on this project and would hate for my finishing techniques to ruin it! Also, here is a link to finished projects from the same pattern: http://www-backup.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dress-and-pants

[B][U]Shape Top of Sleeve:[/U][/B]
Bind off 4 sts at beg of next 2 rows (56) sts.
Work even for 2 rows.
Dec 1 st at each end of next row and foll 4th row, then every foll alt row until (38) sts rem, ending with WS facing for next row.
Next Row (WS) P7, [p2tog] (12) times, p7. (26) sts.
Bind off.

[B][U]Shape Armhole:[/U][/B] (below are the instructions for the back of the armhole. They are the same, just reversed for the front of the armhole.)
Next row (RS) Bind off 4 sts, k to last 6 sts, [p1, k1] 3 tiems. (41) sts.
Cont to work in St st with rib border work 1 row, then shape as follows:
Dec 1 st at armhole edge on next row and every foll alt row until (35) sts rem.
Work even until armhole measures (5) in / (13) cm, ending at armhole edge.

Thank you so much!

For armhole: Work even until armhole measures (5) in / (13) cm, ending at armhole edge.
For sleeve: Dec 1 st at each end of next row and foll 4th row, then every foll alt row until (38) sts rem, ending with WS facing for next row.
Next Row (WS) P7, [p2tog] (12) times, p7. (26) sts.
Bind off.

I think because the armhole gives a measurement to work to and the sleeve doesn’t, your row gauge may differ from that in the pattern. I think it will be assumed that when you work the sleeve to the number of stitches given that your length will correspond to that of the armhole, the sleeve cap being slightly longer and needing to be eased in. salmonmac’s suggestion to rework the sleeve cap and add the rows necessary for the correct length is what I would go with. If the sleeve cap is too short it won’t fit quite right.

One other thought. Since you have a relatively long bind off (28sts) be sure your bind uff is loose and stretchy so that it’s not making the sleeve cap smaller. If that’s a problem, you might re-do the bind off using a needle one or two sizes larger in the right hand.

Thanks so much for your suggestions. Do you also think I should block it given that it is cotton or would that not make too much of a difference? I should add that I need to complete the project by Saturday because we have a family photo shoot and I’d like my daughter to wear the dress for it so I don’t have a ton of time. That said, there isn’t too much left to do.

When you suggest making the bind off looser, I actually have done this but it doesn’t seem streatchy to me. Is there a different bind off stitch that is strechty?

And do you think I should do this in addition to making the sleeve a bit longer? Given the instructions I posted, (and given that they ask for me to decrease until I get to the bind off row), how would you go about adding length to the sleeve and at what point?

Thanks so much for your help!!

Here’s my two cents’ worth: I would wash and block it; after all, you’re probably going to want to wash and block it anyway before it’s worn, so why not now to see if it makes any difference. For cotton, you can wash it as directed and put it in the dryer (if yarn label says that’s okay) and dry it for just a little while. Then take it out while it’s still damp and pin it to the correct size. Cotton notoriously shrinks back to the original size, but I’ve read that some people block it anyway and can make some minor adjustments (and at least even out stitches).

As for the stretchy bind offs, here’s a site that has several: http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/needles/archive/2010/03/25/stretchy-bind-offs.aspx

You can also search for stretchy bind offs to find one you think will work.

Whether you reknit part of the sleeve depends on the difference between the sleeve cap and the armhole. If the difference is quite a bit, then, yes, you may need to rework the sleeves some (but, of course, you’ll want to do this [U]before[/U] you wash/block it).