Sleeve sewing: How to Draft pattern and cut different types of sleeves

Draft a Basic sleeve pattern and adapt it to make different sleeve patterns like overlap sleeve, umbrella sleeve, puffed sleeve,mega sleeve and more

Sleeve sewing how to

The important measurements you need to take for making sleeves are

  • Armsyce depth ( refer table)
  • Sleeve length
  • Sleeve round, where you want the sleeve to end
  • Sleeve round, around the thickest portion of the arm measure (if you are drafting a long sleeve)
Measurements needed for making patterns for sleeves
Measurements needed for making patterns for sleeves

Make these Free DIY Sleeve patterns


Related posts: Refer to this post on body measurements 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 .

how to draft a sleeve

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

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

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 )

bust measurement and corresponding armhole depths

Join D- E  in a straight line and add 1/2 inch as seam allowance

Mark F as mid point of B-E

plain sleev1slide

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

plain sleev3lide

Front Sleeve line

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

sewing sleeves

Back sleeve line

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

back sleeve line

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.

sleeve pattern

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



normal sleeve

Cap sleeve

A very attractive sleeve which will just cover the top of your arms. Make the markings for a plain sleeve on a paper. Then draw a line straight from E – C


Give a slight curve to the line. Add 1/2 inch seam allowance . Cut it out.

how to make a cap sleeve

 You can sew a similar cap sleeve whih is gathered if you follow the pattern in the tutorial to sew a lace yoke top

cap sleeve top

Circular Sleeve

A – B Sleeve length

C- B = A-B

Square lines from B – C and  C-H & H-F

B- F = C-H

Mark D inside 2 inches from point F .

Mark  D- A  – 1/8 of Bust measurement + 2.5 inches

Mark Point I such that A- I is same as A- B = A-I

Draw a CIRCULAR  arch from B to F passing over I .

Mark a point 4 from D 1/2 inches inside

From point 4 mark a point 3 inside 1 1/2 inches

From point 3 draw a straight line to Point E ( which is 1/2 inches  from A to the inside on line A-F)

Find midpoint of line 3 -E . mark this point as 2 . Mark 1  one inch inside from point 2

Make a curved line through D-3-1-E Pattern for the full circular sleeve is ready. A little disfficult but totally worth sleeve pattern.

circular sleeve design

Skirted Umbrella Frill Sleeves

This refers to the sleeve with a pretty skirt.  . Usually this skirt is found near the elbow. It is a popular sleeve with costumes. Make sleeves as per the plain sleeves pattern

To make the skirtumbrella sleeve pattern

Fold the cloth into 4 layers ; then fold it diagonally to make 8 layers : see above diagram.

0-1  :  1/6th  of the bottom of the sleeve where the skirt will be attached.

Mark 0-2 same as 0-1 . Make a curved shape joining 1-2 

Mark points 4 & 3 such that 2-4 & 1-3 are the length you need for the skirt plus 3/4 inches seam allowance

Cut out and join to the sleeve.

This kind of sleeves are also known by the name – flute sleeves. To know more details on how to make the sleeves checkout the tutorial to make a boxy top with flute sleeves


Lace inserted  sleeve

An attractive addition of cloth/ lace etc is given in the  centre seam of the sleeve; Checkout this tutorial for lace insertion – different ways

For drafting this sleeve first make the pattern on paper ;  draw a parallel line to A – C  1/4 inches outside ; this is the new seam line.

plain sleeve INSERT

sleeve INSERT

If you want a curve like in the above diagram when drafting mark 1 inch inside diagonally  to K .

draw a curved line along D-K-I . cut it out and insert the lace along the cut line.

plain sleeve INSERT

Overlap Sleeve (Tulip sleeve)

Make the pattern for a plain sleeve on paper –

Mark a point K  2 1/2 inches away from A

From C mark a point L 1 inch diagonally as shown in diagram

Cut double pattern pieces ie 4 pieces for this sleeve ; 2 for each sleeve .

overlap sleeve

Puff Sleeves

Checkout the post 3 types of Puff sleeves patterns and how to sew them for detailed tutorial on sewing the puff sleeves

Bangle sleeves

This is a full long sleeve with gathers near the wrist, like the one you find near the ankle of chudidhars. The measurements are to be taken for a far tighter sleeve than for the plain sleeves.

puff sleeve s1

For the gathers  : – the line A – C ( full desired length of sleeve) is extended to about 5 – 6 inches till point 4 ; like wise for line E-D is extended the same 5-6 inches till point 5

5 – 6 –  Here  a  slit of 4 inches is  made so that this tight sleeve pattern will get your hands in.

Flared sleeves

This is a flared sleeve at the bottom edge ( but a plain sleeve  at the top). Make  the pattern of a plain sleeve on paper.

Keep this pattern on another paper. Square down from B – E

Mark the bottom edge C – D

Mark 4-5 inches outside to point 2

From this point mark up 1 1/2 inches up to point 4 . Make a curved line joining D to 4

Join 4 – E

 umbrella sleeve pattern

umbrella sleeve pattern

Bell sleeve

This is somewhat similar to the flared sleeve mentioned above. Checkout the tutorial for flared dress for more details on how to draft this sleeve

flare dress free stitching pattern

Sleeves -full at the edge

Make a plain sleeve pattern on paper

sleeve with bottom ruffles

Extend the line A – C 1 1/2 to 2 inches straight down to point K. Join to J in a curved line.

This pattern requires a band at the edge to contain the fullness or  Casing with an elastic or ribbon inserted inside

To make the band

Cut out a rectangular piece of cloth 1 inches wide and full sleeve round Plus 1/2 – 3/4  inches long.

Mega sleeve

This is a very short sleeve with double folded cloth and looks very attractive for  kids dresses and gowns and slim arms


mega sleeve pattern

First fold the clothe along 1-2  and then fold along 3-4

Mark the pattern as given below


Mark 3 – A  – Full length of sleeve  needed + 1/2 inches ( it is better for this to be lesser than 4 inches for it to look good. Draw a line straight ( right side angle ) from A

Mark D as midpoint of 3 – A

Mark D- C ( Sleeve depth)  as per the table given above in plain sleeve

Square up D – C -2-3

Mark i inch inside from point 2 to point H ; join H to C

now take a one inch margin along H-C

Mark G as the mid point of C – D ; Draw a straight line from G to point E on line A-B

Mark F as the midpoint of G – E

Drawing a soft curved line touching point F from A – C . cut out along this curved line.

Extended sleeve

This is a sleeve formed by extending the shoulder of the bodice. Checkout this post to make an easy tunic top with extended shoulder. A kimono sleeve is a type of extended sleeve with wide hem and armhole – checkout the tutorial for kimono sleeve here

kimono sleeves
kimono sleeves

Also 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.

blouse cutting

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 .

How to stitch sleeves

how to sew flare dress -free pattern

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. 

ragalan sleeve

 Or Make a top with Batwing sleeves like this one 

boho top pattern

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

neckline types designs

neckline designs 

 kaftan dress

  collar types


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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 “Sleeve sewing: How to Draft pattern and cut different types of sleeves”

  1. 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

  2. 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.

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