Drafting the Basic Unfitted Sleeve

Please read through all instructions before drafting.
See “How to Take Measurements” for complete instructions on obtaining your personal measurements used in this system.

Completed Pattern draft is shown without seam allowances. Add 1/2″ seam allowances after pinning pattern to fabric. Measure out from pattern edges using Tailor’s Chalk and a clear plastic ruler.

When a fitting shell is created do not add any ease to your body measurements.

Style ease is added to the Upperarm Width, Elbow Circumference and Wrist Circumference when drafting a sleeve pattern that will be transformed into a particular style. The amount of style ease added varies. Each RetroGlam project will detail the amounts to be added to each basic pattern based on the style being created.

Note: The Sample Measurements used are for Misses Size 4. Substitute your own measurements when drafting this pattern. Perform any calculations in the patterns using your own measurements.

Basic Sleeve

Basic Unfitted Sleeve.

Measurements To Be Used (Sample Size is Misses 4–Substitute your own measurements)

Upper Arm Width………….11 1/2″
Cap Length (1)………….. 6″
Sleeve Width (2)…………11 1/2″
Arm Length………………23″

(1) Cap Length
a. Measure in the Basic Back Bodice Pattern, the distance between Point J and the Underarm Length line as indicated in Illustration No. 1 (the blue line).

b. For the Misses Size 4 Fitting Shell used in this project the distance is 7 5/8″. When drafting this pattern use the measurement from your own pattern.

c. Measure in the Basic Front Bodice Pattern the distance between Point K to the Underarm Length Line as indicated in Illustration No. 2 (the blue line).

For the Misses Size 4 Fitting Shell this distance is 6 5/8″

d. Add these two measurements and from the result subtract 2″

For the Misses Size 4 the calculation is:

7 5/8″ + 6 5/8″ = 13 10/8′
10/8 is reduced to 1 2/8″ and further to 1 1/4″.
Then added to 13″ + 1 1/4″ = 14 1/4″
Subtract the 2″ for 14 1/4″ – 2″ = 12 1/4″

e. Divide the result by two and you will obtain the measurement which is used for the Cap Length. As an example, we will use the results from the calcuations in Step d. For Misses Size 4 the calculation is

12 1/4″ / 2 = 6 1/8″

Cap Length for Misses Size 4 used to draft the fitting shell is 6 1/8″

Substitute your own measurements when doing the calculations.

Note: Cap Length is always determined by using the measurements described in Step a. and Step b. on the pattern you have drafted which you will use as the basis of a new style. The amount of Cap Length can vary with each pattern since it is affected by the ease and changes a style can make to Underarm Length. The amount of style ease added also affects the Cap Height.

(2) Sleeve Width
For drafting the fitting shell no additional ease is usually added since when measurements are taken it is usual practice to allow a little movement of the tape measure around the area being measured. Measurements are never taken holding the tape measure tightly around any part of the body.

Usually 2-3″ is added to the Upper Arm Width for Blouses and Dresses. For Jackets and Coats 4″ – 5″ can be added. The exact amount varies with style and personal measurements.

Basic Unfitted Sleeve Pattern and How to Measure or Cap Height.

Constructing the Pattern Rectangle

1. Make a rectangle applying as horizontal line the measurement Sleeve Width and label Points A-B. For Misses Size 4 A-B is 11 1/2″.

Use the Arm Length for the vertical line drawn down from Point B. Label the Point C.

Draw C-D using the Sleeve Width.

Connect D to A using the Arm Length.

2. Fold the pattern in half by bringing the B-C line to meet the A-D line. Crease down the middle and open the pattern.

Mark this Center Line E at the top and F at the bottom of the sleeve pattern.

3. From A to D mark downwards the Cap Length. Label it Point G.

For Misses Size 4 it is 6 1/8″.

4. From Point G draw a horizontal line over to the B-C vertical line. Label Point H.

Points G to H is the Cap Line.

5. The sleeve cap begins at Point E and ends at the G to H line. It must be divided into 4 equal parts.

Rather than use calculations the easiest way to achieve the 4 equal parts is by folding the cap twice and creasing it.

First bring the A to B horizontal line down to the G to H horizontal line. Fold and crease along the fold line.

Then, fold the cap again bringing the new fold line down to the G to H Cap Line. Crease along this new fold line.

Open the sleeve cap. There will now be four equal sections.

6. Use a clear, plastic ruler to measure down two lines first from Point E to Point H. Then from Point E to Point G.

7. Along the E-H diagonal, label each part of the diagonal that intersects a fold line in the following order: I, J and M. Refer to the pattern diagram.

8. Along the E-G diagonal, label each part of the diagonal that intersects a fold line in the following order: N, O, R. Refer to the pattern diagram.

9. From Point I mark 1/2″ upward. Mark as Point L.

10. From Point K, mark 3/4″ downward and label Point M.

11. Join Points E-L-J-M-H with a curve to obtain the Front Cap of the sleeve.

12. From Point N, mark 5/8″ upward and mark as Point Q.

13. From Point O, mark 3/8 upward and mark as Point X.

14. From Point P, mark 3/8″ downard and mark as Point R.

15. Join Points E-Q-X-R-G with a curve to obtain the Back Cap of the sleeve.

16. From D to F mark 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ inwards to taper the sleeve. Label Point S.

17. From Point C to F, also taper in the same amount. Label Point T.

18. Join Points S and G and Points T and H to obtain the Underarm Seam Line.

19. Mark “Front” along the portion of the sleeve on the E to B portion of the rectangle.

Mark “Back” alont the A to E portion of the rectangle.

20. The vertical grain line for the sleeve is the E to F line.

Determining Ease needed for the Sleeve Cap based on the Armhole Measurement of the Bodice.

In general, the sleeve cap usually should not exceed 3/4″ total ease.

Use a tape measure to measure the armholes of the Front Bodice and Back Bodice.

Add 3/8″ to Front Bodice Armhole Measurement.
Add 3/8″ to Back Bodice Armhole Measurement.

The totals for each will be used to measure the sleeve cap.

Beginning at Point G on the Back sleeve measure up along the sleeve cap the total measurement of Back Bodice Armhole plus 3/8″. Mark with a dot. Sometimes the dot will be placed past the E to F line and sometimes it will be placed before it.

Next measure upwards from Point H along the Front Sleeve the total measurement of Front Bodice Armhole plus 3/8″. Mark with a dot. It sometimes goes past the E to F line and sometimes is placed before it.

If there is a gap between the dots on the front and back sleeve curves the excess must be closed. Draw a line from the point where the excess is down to the wrist. Cut open and close.

When there is not enough ease for either front or back then the pattern must be open at the point where the excess ease is needed.

Depending on where the excess ease is taken in or added the Center Grain line of the sleeve might need adjusting in order to maintain the balanced hang of the sleeve when it is sewn into the armhole.

It is best to make these adjustments before cutting the muslin in order to reduce the number of fitting issues that might arise.

For sleeve alterations, “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” and “The Vogue Sewing Book” have excellent step-by-step instructions for a variety of adjustments that can be made to a sleeve needing more or less ease in the sleeve cap.