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Create a Custom Sleeve Pattern

comments (7) August 19th, 2008     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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Measure your sloper.
Measure your arm as shown.
Start drafting your sleeve pattern on the fold.
Measure your sloper.

Measure your sloper.

Photo: Scott Phillips
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In the latest SewStylish, we show you how to create a basic shift pattern to fit your body in a weekend (for a downloadable version of the guide, click here).

Want to know more? Here, we show how to draft a sleeve pattern to match your perfectly fitted shift dress.

Adapted from Threads #131 “Add a Sleeve to Your Bodice" by Kathleen Cheetham


a. To get started, you’ll need your draped shift pattern a few arm measurements. Follow the illustration to take the correct arm measurements needed for the sleeve.

Measure your arm as shown.

Bicep circumference: Measure around the arm, but don’t pull the tape too tightly. Measure around the fullest part of your arm, about 4 inches below the shoulder.

Arm length: Bend your arm slightly at the elbow and measure from your shoulder bone to the wrist bone, passing over the elbow.

Length to elbow: Measure from the shoulder to the point of the elbow

Elbow circumference: Bend your arm again. Measure around circumference of the elbow.

Wrist circumference: Measure your wrist circumference.

b. Next, you’ll need to add a bit of ease to a couple of your measurements to ensure a nice fit and make sure your sleeve won’t be right up against your arm. Add 2 to 3 inches to your bicep circumference, 1 to 2 inches to your elbow width, and 1 inch to the wrist.


a. Take the armhole depth measurement from your bodice pattern. Square a line on both the front and back bodice pattern pieces from the grainline to the underarm at the side seam as shown. Next, measure from the shoulder point straight down to the underarm.

b. Add the front and back measurements together and divide the sum by two.

Measure your sloper.

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posted in: wearable, sewstylish feature, top, shirt, pattern making, sleeve

Comments (7)

MurielN writes: Thank you. Instructions are really clear and easy to follow. I have already used this tutorial to create two of my own patterns and it worked! I am helping an amateur theatre group with their costumes and of course they can't afford patterns! I use any bits of material I can find to create the costumes so to be able to create and insert a custom made sleeve is brilliant.
Posted: 3:22 am on October 22nd
twixytwix writes: Great! I've been looking for this a very long time and it'll be so easy now as the description is so well described with pictures. It will be a dream to make sleeves as I've got several patterns of tops without any.
Posted: 4:04 pm on July 13th
bespokeshirts writes: Forget Costly Shirts,customize your shirts according to your body type at affordable cost....
Posted: 2:46 am on August 16th
AllynG writes: Quick question:
I'm making this sleeve for a ready-made sleeveless dress. I've unpicked the armhole on the dress, but I'd like to know whether or not I need to add a sleeve allowance. Can anyone tell me?
Posted: 11:53 am on June 3rd
3ahra writes: thx so much,but what is the name of this method?
i want to make a 2 pcs sleeve like men`s coat sleeve,but dont know it,can u help me
Posted: 4:08 pm on February 10th
sophiecai writes: thanks for it....great to learn more
Posted: 11:11 am on February 15th
dette writes: Fantastic! Such a clear easy to folow tutorial. I prefer to wear a sleeve and often dicount a pattern because it doesnt have a sleve, Not any more!!!
Posted: 11:34 am on September 17th
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