Your upper arm circumference plus 2-3″
The most flattering length for a short sleeve which looks good on your arms. Usually this is about midway between the shoulder and the elbow.
This diagram shows how to adapt an existing sleeve pattern to create an unfitted sleeve with an all-in-one cuff. I am using this sleeve as part of The Donna Blouse, a take-off on the kind of blouses Donna Reed sometimes wore on her TV show in the late 1950s-early 1960s.
If you are drafting your own pattern, whatever patternmaking system you use, it is best to use the unfitted sleeve pattern. The fit will be more comfortable. I recommend about 2-3″ added to the upper arm width when drafting the sleeve pattern.
A commercial pattern for a fitted sleeve could work provided there is no elbow dart in the pattern. The side seams may taper slightly. Draw down straight lines from the side seams to create an unfitted sleeve.
Measure across the biceps line to check for the width of the sleeve. It should be your upper arm width plus 2-3″ more. If you have to increase the biceps line (in the sketch above it is right in line with the sleeve cap) remember to adjust your armhole pattern as well for the extra length to the sleeve cap. For The Donna Blouse
in size 4 the total measurement is 14″.
Use the measurement of your favorite short sleeved blouse as a guideline. The cuff should turn up somewhere between the middle between the shoulder and elbow length.
This is the A-B vertical line. The dotted lines represent the tapering seams of a fitted or semi-fitted sleeve. Vertical lines Ending at Points F and G represent the new side seams. For Misses Size 4 A-B=9 1/4″. Label the horizontal F-B-G line “Finished Length”. You can also call it “Turn Back Line”.
Use a 2″ clear plastic ruler and measure down the width of the finished cuff one time. Draw a horizontal line and label it H-C-I and write in “Fold”. For Misses Size 4 the width of the cuff is 1 1/2″ from C-D.
Repeat this step again measuring down the same distance from C-D. Draw the horizontal line equal to the width of upper arm plus style ease. Mark this line J-D-K and call it “Hem”.
From J-D-K measure down 1″. This is the seam allowance and the cutting edge for the sleeve’s bottom where you can sew lace hem tape or finish with zig-zag stitching, pinking or overcasting.
Extend the side seams down to the cutting line. Add seam allowances around the sleeve cap and side seams if you like having seam allowances on your paper patterns.
The “Vogue Sewing Book” (1970 Edition) and “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” (1978 Edition) recommend using a lightweight facing inside this sleeve. I think the use of a facing depends on the fabric you are using. For lighweight, opaque fabrics I think it’s a good idea. The cuff will stay neat and in place. The Donna
Blouse is made out of a medium weight cotton broadcloth that doesn’t need the support but the facing made the edges and turnback part of the cuff appear softer which I like.
I cut the facing the length from C-E. At the line H-C-I I added an extra 1/2″ for the facing. This provided the softer edge throughout the entire cuff after it was turned and pressed. I used a very lightweight poly-cotton batiste.
Before using the pattern it is best to make a toile to check the fit as well as to make certain that this customization works well with the intended blouse or dress you will use it with.
Please see the next post for photos of how the sleeve is marked, sewn and what it looks like when it’s finished.