Drafting a Sleeve

Ok, let’s be honest. This wasn’t the super best time for me to get started on a series. I’ve been getting too distracted by Labor Day, anniversaries, car shopping, and the wacky weather to get as much posted as I would like, but hopefully by the end of this week we’ll finally be into the fun parts of the series where you make whatever pattern you like. So without further ado, let’s draft a sleeve so we finally have all the necessary parts to make a shirt.
If you were following along with the Front and Back bodice patterns, this should be pretty simple. Using the measurement chart or measurements taken from your child (explained at the bottom of the page) just follow the step by step directions until your pattern looks like the one below.

Step 1: A-B = The sleeve length (30)
Step 2: A-C = The cap height (31)
Step 3: B-D = Half of the distance from B-C
Step 4: D-E = 1/2″
Step 5: Draw horizontal lines square to line A-B at points A, C, E, and B
Step 6: C-F = Half of the bicep measurement (32)
Step 7: C-G = The same as C-F
Step 8: Draw lines from A-F and A-G
Step 9: Divide lines A-F and A-G into thirds
Step 10: Label the thirds H and I on the back and J and K on the front
Step 11: Half way between F and I mark point L
Step 12: Half way between G and K mark point M
Step 13: Square out a 1/2″ line from point H
Step 14: Square out a 1/2″ line from point J
Step 15: Square in a 1/8″ line from point L
Step 16: Square in a 1/4″ line from point M


Now use your french curve to make the cap of the sleeve.


Step 17: Connect points A, I, and the end of line H with a curved line.


Step 18: Connect points F, I, and the end of line L with a curved line.

Step 19: Connect points A, K, and the end of line J with a curved line.
Step 18: Connect points K, G, and the end of line M with a curved line.

 When all four curves are connected your sleeve cap should look like this. Remember to mark the front and back so there is no confusion later. (H is on the Back and J is on the Front.)
Next you need to determine how wide you would like the sleeve to be. For this step you could measure the sleeve hem of an existing shirt, or just wrap a measuring tape around your child’s wrist and loosen it until it reaches your desired width. If you are measuring your child, keep in mind that their chubby little hand has to fit through the opening. (ex. Reli’s wrist is 5 inches around, but the sleeve opening has to be about 7 inches for her hand to fit through.)
The picture below shows a sleeve with a 9 inch wrist opening (the red line) and a 7 inch opening (The teal line). What ever measurement you decide to use, just center it on the A-B line (So to the amount to the left is the same as the amount to the right of the line). Then draw a line from point G to the end of your line on the front, and another line from point F to the other end of the line in the back. 

And there you have it, a sleeve! Now there are other ways to draft sleeves, but mosy of them involve adding a dart at the elbow. I don’t know anyone who wants to mess with extra darts when making kids clothes so we’ll stick with this one to make it easier. As always, If you have any questions, please let me know.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make sure that all your pattern pieces match up, and also how to check the fit by making a muslin.
Thanks for Visiting!
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I almost forgot the measurements…
– The Sleeve Length is measured from the tip of the shoulder to where you would like the sleeve to end at the wrist.
– The Cap Height is from the tip of the shoulder down to the widest part of the bicep.
– The Bicep (with ease) is the measurement around the thickest part of the upper arm plus about 2″-2 1/2″.

6 thoughts on “Drafting a Sleeve

    1. Hi Julie! For short sleeves all you have to do is draft the full length version (so it will taper properly), and then chop the bottom off. Just draw a straight line across the sleeve at the height you like, and cut it. Nothing fancy to it!

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