Sunday, 20 October 2013

Drafting a Long Sleeve

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the weather is getting a little cooler right now, and the sleeveless and short sleeve options aren't going to be useful for much longer. So I'm taking on the sleeves. (For you Daria!)

I had intended to have this post up on Friday. :( I've actually written it twice. When I made the pink cowl neck shirt I documented the sleeve drafting process, but I wasn't 100% happy. So being a bit of a perfectionist, I dragged my feet on it for a few days, and then started all over again. I've tested the new sleeve and it's better. I would like to have a photo, but I want to complete a few other bits first.

Anyway, here we go.

I already have, based on my t-shirt copy, a short sleeve pattern. Keep in mind that this pattern is for stretch fabric - woven fabrics are a bit different.
In my first trial, I used the narrower one, but for the second trial I used the wider one. This will depend on the stretch of the fabric, but you will want to have a wider fit than for the short sleeve because it will become narrower in the long sleeve.

I have decided to create a 3/4 sleeve, and all of the illustrations reflect that. The same rules can be applied for a full length sleeve.

I started by drawing a vertical line down my paper, longer than my arm.

I then traced my pattern piece onto the top of that, matching the line with the middle of my pattern piece.

I then wanted to mark the length. I need to measure my arm, from the seam line on the shoulder (should be the bony bit) to the length I would like my sleeve to be. If you don't have someone helpful handy, grab an existing garment with an appropriate shoulder seam and length, and measure that.

I ended up with 44cm. I measure down the line, starting at the stitching line rather than the cutting line.

I mark the desired length in, and I draw across at right angles.

Although it seems to make sense that you would just extend the existing lines down to this point, in all likelihood you will find it becomes too narrow at the bottom of the sleeve.

Measure around your wrist (or the point at which you want your sleeve to end) including a bit of wiggle room. Add 2 seam allowances.

Mark that measurement on the horizontal line, with the vertical line at the halfway mark. So in my case, because my desired measurement was 20cm, I added 2 x 1cm seam allowance = 22cm. I marked a point 11cm to the left and 11 cm to the right of the center line.

Join the top edge of the pattern piece with the corresponding point on the sleeve.

I checked the lengths of the sides and extended the back out slightly as it was about 5mm shorter.

For stretch wear, people often taper in slightly. I measured my arm from the sleeve line to the elbow. I drew in the elbow by measuring down from the seam line as before.

At this point, I want to curve into the elbow, about 1.5cm. I mark a point on each side.

And taper in using a French curve.

Take a moment to measure the piece around the bicep. If it's smaller than your bicep you might want to slash and expand your pattern piece.

Add a hem.

And cut out!

I've done all of these drawings in felt tip pen (aka markers/textas). That is so that it will show up in the photos. I don't recommend felt tip, because it rubs off on everything and you don't want that on your fabric.

Ok. So that's the sleeve pattern! Next time, we can have a look at how to put it into the shirt.


  1. Glad you mentioned the tapering as I'm sure it is something that I wouldn't have thought about then would be wondering why the sleeve wasn't such a great fit!

    1. Funny you should say that - that's exactly what I did the first time. :)

  2. Love the post Zoe, I have had many an incident with markers and rulers!

    1. :) I miss that lovely paper we used at CIT.