Instructions for Drafting Your Own Sleeves

Remember to click the pictures for a larger view

Part 1

  1. Measure your arm from your shoulder, down around the elbow to wrist. Draw a line that length, plus seam allowance at both ends, on paper. I use paper on a roll that I found at Office Depot that is 24 inches wide. Before I found that, I glued sheets of copy paper together for the right size.
     
  2. Add another five inches to the top. This is the end where the sleeve will attach to the bodice.
     
  3. At the five inch mark, draw temporary guide line perpendicular to the sleeve length, like a cross.
     
  4. If you are making this sleeve for a garment with set-in sleeves, measure the garment or the pattern, around the armhole and add seam allowance. If you're doing a bodice, like I do, make a loop around your arm out of the tape measure and pull it up over your shoulder, like the top of a sleeve. Arrange it on your shoulder exactly the way you want the sleeve to fit and see how many inches is comfortable (it should be snug, but not tight).

    Divide the armhole measurement in half. Use a yardstick to draw a line that length from the top of the sleeve to the left arm of the cross.
     
  5. Do the same thing on the right side. This will form a wide, squatty triangle.
     
  6. Measure loosely around your hand. This will be for the cuff of the sleeve. Don't make it too tight, or you'll have trouble slipping it on. Using that measurement, plus seam allowance, draw a horizontal line across the bottom of your cross.
     
  7. Using a yardstick, draw a line connecting the left corner of the triangle with the left edge of the cuff line. Do the same on the right.

Part 2

This part can be confusing. I've colorized left and right, to make things a little clearer.

  1. Divide the triangle into three equal horizontal sections.
     

  2. On the left side, upper line, measure out from the edge of the triangle 3/4 inches and mark with a dot.
     

  3. On the right side, upper line, measure out from the edge 3/4 inches and mark with another dot.
     

  4. On the left side, lower line, measure in from the edge of the triangle 1/4 inches and mark.
     

  5. On the right side, lower line, measure in from the edge 1/2 inches and mark.
     

  6. Draw a curving line from the first dot, up over the top of the sleeve, and back down to the dot on the right side.
     

  7. Continue down through the lower dot, and around to the bottom corner of the triangle. Do the same on the other side (see picture). The left side of the sleeve is the back, the right is the front. You may wish to mark this on the pattern, and when you cut the sleeves, use chalk or disappearing pen to mark front and back on wrong side of fabric.

This pattern has worked very well for me, but it may not work for everyone. Test it on scrap fabric first, before using it in your final project.

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Last update to this website: 07/24/03