Updated on July 28, 2022 by Sarina
Sleeves are such an important part of clothes as it is one of the first things you see in a garment. They should fit properly and be comfortable to wear as well. Sleeve styles vary greatly with time and fashion.
Fashions of sleeves come and go. One moment a particular sleeve may be in fashion but then they disappear completely for decades to resurface later and become a rage again. I remember wearing loose puff sleeves in my teenage years as it was in fashion; now I cannot imagine wearing them, one because it absolutely kills my body shape and two they are luckily not in fashion.
The two main categories of sleeves are Set-in sleeves and one-piece sleeves. Then there are Raglan sleeves that join the bodice with a slightly curved seam. The set-in sleeve refers to those sleeves which are joined onto the curved armscye. They join the side seams of the bodice at the underarm. The one-piece sleeves are part of the bodice; Kimono sleeves, Dolman/ Magyar sleeves, and the batwing sleeves belong to this category.
The different types of sleeves are as follows:
1. Regular sleeve
There are 2 ways a sleeve is attached – Set in sleeve is a normal sleeve with a high rounded sleeve cap. The sleeve is attached after the bodice and the sleeve is finished. This is a sleeve which is set into the armscye with the sleeve head curved to adjust to the roundness of the shoulder.
The other one is the shirt sleeve. The usual way is to sew this sleeve to the bodice and then the side seams are finished.
2. Raglan sleeves
This is a sleeve joined to the bodice with a diagonal seam running from the underarm front and back in to the neckline.
3. Cap sleeves
This is a sleeve which just about covers the top of the arm. It is a short sleeve. You also call it ap sleeves when the shoulder fabric is extended up and over the shoulder cap without breaking to extend slightly down the arm. The effect is the same in both cases
You can also checkout the slightly gathered cap sleeves in the lace yoke blouse sewing pattern for details on drafting this
4. Extended Cap sleeves
This sleeve is a cap sleeve with a small extension from the shoulder. Checkout this tunic pattern with extended sleeves .
5. Bracelet sleeves (Three fourth sleeve)
This sleeve has a length between elbow and the wrist. The whole idea is that when you wear this sleeve you can see your bracelet. From the elbow it measures about 4 inches.
6. Lantern sleeves
This is a long sleeve with two sections. The top portion of this sleeve flares from the sleeve head towards the wrist. The bottom part flares from a fitting wrist to meet the flare from the top. The two parts are joined by a seam which maintains its flared lantern shape. A long lantern sleeve and short lantern sleeve can be made.
7. Man’s shirt sleeve with cuff
This sleeve has two pleats at the buttoned cuff and a placket opening.
8. Leg of mutton sleeves
This is a full gathered sleeve head which tapers to fit towards the wrist giving it the appearance of a leg of mutton. Read more on Leg of Mutton sleeves here.
9. Juliet Sleeve
This is similar to the leg of mutton sleeve. The difference being that this sleeve has two parts to it. The top part at the sleeve head is very full . This is gathered and joined to a fitted sleeve part in the lower arm.
10. Bell sleeves
11. Cape sleeve / Circular sleeve
This is a shorter version of the bell sleeve, mostly shorter than elbow – very flared. Flared sleeve ending an inch or so above the elbow is called Capelet sleeves.
12. Frill Sleeve / Flute sleeves
This sleeve is fitted till the elbow and from there a frill is attached. The frill can be Umbrella frill in which a skirt is cut as we do for umbrella skirts , or Flared frill which has lesser flare or pleated frill.
13. Pagoda sleeve
This is sleeve which is fitted on the upper arm and has tiered frills on the lower part of the arm to the wrist. Usually there are three tiers.
14. Bishop sleeve
This is a sleeve with a fitted upper part and a flared lower part. The flares are gathered at the wrist by a cuff. More on bishop sleeve here.
15. Peasant sleeve
This is a gathered raglan sleeve which is gathered at the neck and hem with drawstring or elastic.
16. Square armhole sleeve
The armhole is designed not curved but angular, mostly square shaped. This is an interesting design element.
17. Dolman/ Magyar sleeve
This is a one piece sleeve which is an extension of the bodice. There will be no seam between bodice and the sleeve, as it is cut as one. Sometimes a gusset is added to the underarm for ease. Check out the tutorial to make a dolman sleeved top.
18. Padded shouldered sleeve
In this case the sleeve has a shoulder pad and is made extra wide to accommodate this.
19. Petal sleeve (lapped sleeve); Tulip sleeve
This sleeve is joined at the top two edges overlapping. There will be no underarm seam for this sleeve. The layered panels that form this sleeve make it look like petals; they are usually short or skimpy sleeves.
20. Marmaluke or Virago sleeve
This is a sleeve which is long and full and is divided into many (usually 5) full sections. The parts are gathered at intersections fitting the arm. A vintage sleeve.
21. Angel sleeves / Dalmation sleeves
This is a flared sleeve with its ends extending into long points down the sides.
22. Butterfly sleeve
This sleeve has a puff at the top and is loose near the hem. It does not have a cuff like the normal puffed sleeves.
23. Bag sleeve/Barrel sleeve
A long and very full sleeve that is gathered into the cuff at the wrist.
24. Draped sleeves
Extra fullness is given at the top part of the sleeve whereas the under arm portion of the sleeve remains fitted. A drapey effect is created by the fullness at the top, which is sometimes drawn up with elastic.
25. Puff sleeves
A full sleeve which may be long or short which is gathered at the top and or hem. A puff look is given as a result of the gathers. In earlier times, this sleeve was called a gigot sleeve.
There are many kinds of puff sleeves – gathered at the armhole alone but fitting at the sleeve round, fitting at the armhole but gathered at the sleeve round, both gathered and puffed together; These sleeves are usually gathered at the sleeve round with a sleeve band ( cuff) or elastic ribbon, or elastic enclosed casing, drawstrings You can check out the post for drafting your own puffy sleeves.
26. Drawstring puff sleeve
This is a puff sleeve which is gathered using a drawstring or a cuff with the gathered hem forming a sort of frill.
27. Epaulet sleeve
Sleeve with a strap on the shoulder to carry cape. A saddle sleeve is also called epaulet sleeve.
28. Balloon sleeve
A very full shirt sleeve which is padded to give the look of a balloon
29. Batwing sleeve
This is a cut in one piece sleeve which narrows to fit towards the wrist.
30. Circle sleeve / Flutter sleeves
This is a sleeve which looks like a circle when it is cut. This is a sleeve which has lots of flare. Check out the post on sewing a flutter sleeve here
31. Wing Ruffle sleeve
This is sleeve which is very short but full and is gathered to form ruffles.
32. Kimono sleeves
This is a long one piece sleeve that is an extension of the bodice and extends to the wrist.
Checkout the post on drafting kimono sleeves or the tutorial to draft pattern and sew a Kimono / yukata for more details
33. Over sleeve
This consists of two sleeves one on top of the other in layering effect.
34. Hanging sleeve
This is a very long sleeve that is open down the seam and hangs down.
35. Elbow patched sleeve
This has a patch on the elbow to protect the garment from wear and tear.
36. Slashed sleeve
This sleeve has slashes on it revealing other fabric underneath, usually of a contrasting colour.
37. Strapped or banded sleeve
There will be a narrow strip of fabric along the hem of the sleeves.
38. Tailored sleeve
This is a two piece sleeve with seams down the front and back and not underarm like the normal sleeves. This is done so that it could be shaped. A suit sleeve is also similar.
39. Off-shoulder sleeve
40. Mahoitres Sleeve
A vintage sleeve. This sleeve is padded and is shaped like a bag.
41. Gibson Girl Sleeve
This is a sleeve which is full at the shoulder to the elbow and very fitted from the elbow to the wrist. Similar to the above sleeve.
42. Poet Sleeve
This sleeve is full from the shoulder to the cuff and then features a ruffle at the hem.
43. Melon Sleeve
This sleeve is rounded at the shoulder to the elbow ending in a cuff or band
44. Gauntlet Sleeve (Pointed)
In this sleeve, the fabric extends to the back of hand usually in a V shape
45. Cold-shouldered sleeve
This is an off-shoulder style sleeve. The sleeve hangs on to the bodice from the sides rather than from the top of the armscye leaving a hole exposing the shoulders.
Check out the tutorial to sew cold shouldered sleeve here.
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