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How to sew sleeves : Measurement and Pattern

Sleeve sewing: How to take measurement, Draft pattern and cut sleeves
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The important measurements you need to take for making sleeves are

  • Armsyce depth (Distance from shoulder tip to the upper arm or bicep)
  • Sleeve length
  • Sleeve round (Measure round where you want the sleeve to end) ; If it is a long sleeve, take the measure around the hand.
  • Sleeve round, around the thickest portion of the arm measure ; Bicep circumference or upper arm round, whatever you call it. 
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Measurements needed for making patterns for sleeves

DIY Sleeve pattern

Related posts: Refer to this post on How to Accurately Measure for Sewing to know how to take the measurements correctly. Checkout this post on the 40 different types of sleeves you could add on to your clothes.

Checkout this tutorial for 2 easy sleeves you can add to a sleeveless dress / top if all you want is to add simple sleeves to sleevelss dresses/ tops or draft flutter sleeves ( 3 easy ways)

Draft Sleeve pattern- for a plain sleeve

A plain sleeve is the basic pattern for sleeves that is used as a base for making patterns of all sleeves mentioned here.

You can make this pattern straight on the cloth or on a paper. It is better to make it in a paper so that next time you make it you have less trouble.

Cut the sleeve pieces 20 inches wide and your desired sleeve length plus 1 1/2  inches long .

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Keep the sleeve pieces Right sides together. Fold them and start the marking. Use chalk to mark the pattern

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The line A –C is along the folded line of the cloth. The measurement from A to C is  Sleeve length + 1 ½ inch

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C-D  1/2 of arm round where you want the sleeve to end

E – B & A – B  Mark as per  table given below ( this is based on your bust measurement ) Or 1/2 of Bicep circumference (upper arm round)

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Join D- E  in a straight line.

Add ease of 3/4 inch and seam allowance of half inch.

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Mark F as mid point of B-E

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Make a straight line from F to G ; Join this line to line A-C  in a right angle

Divide the line G- F line into 3 equal parts. Mark the points 1 & 2

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Front Sleeve line

Join from A – E so that the line passes through point 1 -This is the front sleeve line

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Back sleeve line

From A mark ½-1 inches to point 3 . From point 3 join the line to E through the point 2

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Remember that both the sleeves (front sleeve pattern and back sleeve pattern), are marked on the folded sleeve  piece on one side. First cut through all the layers of cloth the back sleeve line from I – A. Open the full sleeve and now cut through one half portion through the front sleeve line.

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When fully opened and cut the sleeve will look like this ready to be sewn to your dress

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checkout the pattern to sew a Kimono for this sleeve

How to cut the sleeve pattern from the fabric

Keep the 2 sleeve fabric pieces folded and aligned. Mark the back sleeve and front sleeve on the top piece. After marking, cut through the back armhole line. Then open it up and cut through the front armhole line . So now you have one side back armhole line and other side armhole line.

Remember that you need mirror image sleeves ; for left and right sleeves – the front armhole line should be on the front when folded.

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How to stitch the sleeves to the bodice

To stitch the sleeves, first join the front bodice and back bodice patterns at the shoulders. Keep them open. Keep the sleeve pattern on top of the bodice armsyce, right sides together. The wrong side of the sleeve piece should be facing you. You will have to align the center fold line of the sleeve pattern to the bodice shoulder stitching line. Pin in place if you want.

Start stitching from the center to one side. Finish and comeback to center and stitch to the other side. Trim the sleeve allowance inside and Finish the edges with a serger or zig zag stitches .

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Checkout the post on making sleeve plackets for details on making 5 types of plackets.

Also learn to sew other sleeves like Flutter sleeves, Angel wing sleeves, & Butterfly sleeves. You can also checkout the raglan sleeve pattern here or the Flared ragalan sleeve pattern in the Raglan top pattern as well as a similar gathered raglan sleeve in the peasant dress pattern. 

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 Or Make a top with Batwing sleeves like this one 

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Checkout the tutorial to make a bodice pattern for a different version of the fitted sleeve which is slightly loose in the armhole and which is cut the same on the front and the back

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
6 thoughts on “How to sew sleeves : Measurement and Pattern”
  1. Joyce
    I need the full copy of Sew guide PDF. Please Share the link with me if there is. Thanks Reply
  2. Ingeborg

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something
    to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Cheers

    Reply
    • Sarina
      Thanks for letting me know; There was a change recently and maybe because of that. Appreciate
  3. Kelcey
    Should the c-d line be the arm measurement divided by 2? Mine is coming out ridiculously big…it’s longer than line B-E. Doesn’t seem right. Reply
    • Sarina
      c-d is arm round divided by 2
    • Sarina
      It was a typo
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