Updated on October 18, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Dolman sleeve refers to a sleeve formed from the same fabric as the bodice of the top or dress. It has no definition in the armscye and the side seams form a line from the waist to the sleeve hem. You can have a dolman sleeve style with loose sleeves as well as tapered sleeve hem.
Surprisingly this seemingly baggy looking silhouette is a versatile style that is very forgiving and flattering to all body shapes. This style looks good on slim girls as well as heavy girls, depending on the neckline and drape of the fabric you have chosen.The range of motion and comfort this style gives is commendable. It is roomy enough for comfort but at the same time, you can layer it with a nice jacket also.
This pattern can be made into a short top or as a tunic. I like the look of a dolman style top with a pencil skirt. Tunic looks good with figure hugging tights or jeans
You have to decide on the correct style of necklines and sleeve length suitable for your body when sewing a Dolman style top or tunic.
How to select the suitable Dolman sleeve top or tunic for you
If you are petite, make sure that you have not selected a very thick knit with too much volume to sew this top, because extra volume under the arm could look overwhelming for the figure.You may end up looking lost in the extra cloth that dolman style brings.
If you are too skinny this top adds the necessary bulk to your frame, clinging to your figure in the right places.
If you have a top heavy figure make sure that you select a neckline which will flatter you like a V neck or a wide scoop neck – do not go for boat neck or jewel neck.
This style suits a pear shaped body also as it helps maintain balance by adding to the top portion
It is always better to select a soft drapey material like silk, rayons and poplins to sew this top.
A loose Dolman top pattern
How to sew this dolman sleeve pattern
Cut out the pattern pieces . The below given one is the back pattern.
Then cut out the front pattern
cut out the pieces for the small pocket ( decorative) and the sleeve bands ( 2 strips of fabric 2.5 inch wide and the length of the sleeve edge.)
Sew the edges of the top of the patch pocket and press the side edges inside.
Attach it to the bodice
Sew the shoulder seams together for the front and back bodice. I made a french seam here so that the raw edges would not be visible as the fabric is transparent
Press the fabric strip for the sleeve band by the middle. Keep it under the sleeve edge and stitch in place joining the edges together.
Turn the band to the right side.
Stitch the band in place
Hen the bottom edge of the front and back bodice with a bias strip. Keep it right sides togther and make a binding to the inside.
Join the side seams together.
Bind the neckline edge with bias strip. Remember to start binding from the back.
Method 2. How to make pattern to sew a Dolman sleeve Tunic or Kurta ( more fitting)
Fold the cloth along the center line ( This pattern uses a single pattern for front and back part)
Leave a 1/2″ on top of the cloth and start marking along the fold
A-B = Full length needed + 2″
Mark A-D which is the armhole depth as per the table below
A-R = 2″ ( or as needed for back neck)
Mark A-C Neck width as per the table below (C-S which is neck depth can be taken as per table or as per your preference
A-E = Length to waist from shoulder
A-N = Length to hip ( If it is a tunic, mark N at length to hip)
D-G = 1/4 of chest round+ 1 “
E-F = 1/4 of waist round+ 1″
N-O = 1/4 of hip round+ 2″
A-H = Half of shoulder + 1/4″
P-R = Half of sleeve round + 1″
P-Q = 3/4 “
M-L = 1″ Draw a curved line joining B-L
Give a 1/2″ seam allowance along the side seam L-F-R and along C-I-Q(Shoulder seam)
Steps to stitching the Dolman top
- Finish the neck facings ( Front and back)
- Join the shoulder seam; Do the sleeve hem
- Join the side seams ; Do the bottom hem
Checkout the detailed sewing tutorial to make a tunic which is similar. Another way to make this top is to do away with the shoulder seam totally i.e treat the fold line of your fabric as the seam as we do with a Kaftan top pattern
You can embellish your top with embroidery
METHOD 3.Another way of making a dolman sleeve top pattern
Another easy way of sewing a Dolman sleeved top is by making a circle and sew just two seams as follows.
Mark a circle on a wide cloth with radius = Height of the top you want + 2″
Fold the round fabric piece in half and iron this half-way mark. This will be your shoulder line.
Leaving it folded, fold the fabric in half again down the center front line. Now you have 4 thicknesses half the width of the fabric
The lower mark of A-G is the front neck and A-H is the Back neckline. With the fabric pinned to secure, cut through the Back neckline first. Then Open up the whole cloth. Fold the entire length of fabric in half, matching up the ironed shoulder lines, so that the fabric lays on the table full length and half the width of the fabric. At the center front neck mark, cut a gentle curve up to the edge of the back neck at the shoulder line through A-H.Now you have your neck opening cut out.
Try it out over your head to make sure the head opening is accurate- if not snip just a little bit more maybe 1/2 – 1″ at the neckline (Be careful that you donot make too big an opening)
How to finish the neckline of a Dolman sleeved tunic top
Cover the edge with double fold wide bias tape, starting and ending at the back neck. Turn under the last 1/4″ of tape and overlap at least 3/8″ for the most professional finish. If you are using a stretch fabric, the caftan neck is simple (if you have a curved neck opening). Iron the fabric to turn under 1/2″ and then go to the sewing machine. As you sew, scoot the raw edge under the turn so that you get a 1/4″ finished turned edge. You will need to stretch the fabric a bit at the shoulder and at the center front to make the curves lie flat.