How to draft a sleeve pattern for knit fabrics

In this post, I am going to show you how I draft a sleeve pattern for the basic bodice sloper for knits that we’ve learned how to draft in the previous post.

You can use this tutorial to draft a sleeve pattern for any sleeveless pattern for knits that you own or in addition to your own bodice drafts.

If you need to know how to draft the bodice pattern to begin with, please refer to the "How to draft a basic bodice for knit fabrics"  post. You are also going to need some measurements that you are going to take directly from the bodice pattern that we drafted.

Measurements to take for drafting the sleeve for knits

There are also some new measurements that you need to take in order to draft the sleeves.

measurements to take for drafting the sleeve

Measurements you need to take for the sleeve:

  1. The sleeve length - from the end of the shoulder to the wrist. You can also measure from the shoulder to where you would like the sleeve to go. But since we are drafting the basic pattern, you might want to draft it with a long sleeve and apply modifications to the pattern later.
  2. Biceps circumference - measure around the widest part at the biceps.
  3. Wrist circumference - measure around the wrist. If you are going to make a sleeve that is not a full length, measure around wherever the sleeve is going to go up to.

Measurements you need to take from the bodice pattern:

  1. Armhole depth - measure straight from the end of the shoulder to the under arm point (measurement 4).
  2. 1/2 armhole circumference - take a measuring tape and following the curve of the armhole. Measure from the shoulder point all the way to the under arm point (measurement 5).  It's 1/2 of the whole armhole, because we are measuring only 
  3. Cap reduction. We reduce the cap to give it that angle between the shoulder and the arm that we usually see in clothes. For a nicely fitted sleeve, we need to calculate a cap reduction of 33% out of the armhole depth measurement.

If you want the sleeve to be less fitted and straight off the shoulder, you don’t need to make a cap reduction or you can reduce the cap with a smaller percentage. This way the sleeve is going to be squared out from the shoulder and less fitted on the arm. In most of our designs, we use 33% reduction of the cap.

how to draft a sleeve pattern

Outline the basic sleeve pattern for knits

Now that we have all measurements and calculations written down, let’s start drafting a sleeve for our knitted bodice pattern.

Draw a line that is a bit longer than your sleeve length measurement. Somewhere close to the top mark point A. From point A straight down, apply the sleeve length measurement and mark point B.

From point A down, measure and apply the cap reduction measurement (33% of the armhole depth measurement) and mark point C. This is the bicep point of the pattern (figure 1).

Square out a line from there to draw  the bicep line (figure 2).

Draft the sleeve pattern

Now lets draft the sleeve cap.

Put the beginning of the ruler at point A and rotate it until the ½ armhole circumference  measurement hits the bicep line. Mark that point D and draw a straight line to connect A and D (figure 2).

Divide the A-D line into quarters. Mark those points E, F and G. Square up ½ inch (1.25 cms) from point E and ½ inch (1.25 cms) down from point G. Keep point F on the line.

Using the French curve ruler, blend between the points to make the sleeve curve (figure 3). From point A, curve up to ½ inch up from E, then through F, then trough ½ inch under point G and finish the curve at point D.

draft a sleeve pattern for knit fabrics

Now, let’s finish the rest of the sleeve.

Square out from point C and apply ½ the wrist measurement. Mark that point H.

Connect points D and H to finish the shape of the sleeve.

To mark the elbow notch, measure the middle point between A and C and square out a line from that point (figure 4). Measure 1 inch (2.5 cms) up from where that line crosses the inner seam of the sleeve and mark the elbow notch.

If you want the sleeve fitted at the middle arm area, measure 1/2 inch (1 cm) in at the center sleeve line we've just drawn. Draw a new curved inseam line from point D through this new point to H.

We've drafted the 1/2 sleeve pattern. To draft the whole sleeve, fold the drafting paper at hte center and reflect the draft on the other side (figure 5). Once you do that, make the center sleeve notch that would help you to align the center sleeve to the shoulder seam later when sewing.

Here are some more recources you might want to consider regarding pattern drafting for knits and pattern reduction:

Patternmaking For Knits: Essential slopers at Craftsy which you can watch as part of Craftsy unlimited with a free trial and

where you can get your first class 20% off with coupon LEARN2SEW.

For more posts like this, click here 

If you find this post useful, please share it, comment below or pin for later.


If you like what you read here, join our mailing list so we can send you our new sewing tutorials, pattern making lessons and patterns, as well as some occasional offers that we think might interest you!

You can unsubscribe at any time. We will protect and use your data in accordance with our Privacy policy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *