Drafting the Sleeve Block

Drafting the Sleeve Block

In order to draft the Sleeve Block you need to have already drafted your Bodice Front and Bodice Back.  To draft the sleeve you need those armhole measurements plus your bicep measurement.   These pages  contain some preliminary information and the step-by-step instructions.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for the measurements I use to draft the sleeve. Bodice Block with armholes highlighted

Sleeve Head Ease

The sleeve cap needs some ease to allow it to be sewn into the armhole.  We are aiming for the minimal amount of ease which allows the sleeve to be easily sewn in, but without forming gathers or pleats. (You add any additional Style or Design Ease when you make your patterns). The amount of minimal ease needed for the sleevehead is about 1.25 to 1.75 inches.  This means that the sleeve cap curve needs to measure about 1.25 to 1.75 inches (or about 8-9%) more than the Front and the Back armholes measurements added together. Some of this ease is added when drawing the straight line in Image 2 (i.e. the straight line is the armhole measurements plus some ease), and the rest is a result of creating the curve around the straight line.

Elbow Dart

This Sleeve Block we are creating includes an elbow dart.  The length of the dart is best determined when fitting your toile, but you can refer to the table on the Sleevehead Ease and Elbow dart page for measurements you can use as a starting guide.

Cap Height

The Cap Height measurement is taken from your body.  We also will work out the ideal Cap Height that will produce minimum ease in the sleevehead.  Refer to the articles: Understanding the Sleeve for an explanation.

Measurements used in these instructions

These measurements are the BODY measurements, the Block will have ease added.
Measurement inches
Bicep 10.38
Full Length Sleeve 22
Cap to Elbow 13.88
Front Armhole 8.13
Back Armhole 8.13
Elbow Circumference 10
Elbow Dart Length*  3
Download the above measurements following along with the instructions: Measurements-Instructions-Sleeve (1 page PDF file).

3 Responses

  1. Hi Maria,

    Why do we need the dart at the elbow and would I have to include in future long sleeve garments? the reason why I ask is that I do not see this in other sleeve block tutorials.

    Many thanks.

  2. Hello Emefa

    The block is for a Fitted Sleeve. If you look at an arm in profile, it does not hang completely straight. From the elbow down it slants forward. The dart will produce a better “fitted” sleeve, You don’t have to use the dart. For styles with a lot of ease you would of course ignore it, it wouldn’t be needed.

    Some industry block making instructions include it (Helen Armstong-Jones, Lori S. Knowles), some don’t (Winifred Aldrich). Keep in mind that blocks are just the starting point, you may never make a garment that is exactly like the block. Given that the better way to get a good fitted sleeve is a 2-piece sleeve block rather than a 1-piece sleeve block, you could draft it without the dart and rely on the 2Piece Block/Pattern when you fitted sleeve. (But do take note that the 2 piece fitted sleeve does have that slant from the elbow dow, because that’s the shape of the body.)

    So,. along that line,.. The 1-piece Sleeve Block in Winifred Aldrich’s book does not have a dart, but her book does include a 2-piece sleeve block, which does have he curve in it, which achieves the same result as the dart, except in a better manner.

    The Vogue & Buttterick Fitting Shells also include the elbow dart.

    So, leave it out if you want to, Just be aware that for a Fitted Sleeve (A sleeve that has the minimum ease in the sleeve head and the bicep and follows the curve of the arm), you will get a better fit with the dart. (But your other option is to get a better fit with a 2-Piece sleeve)….

  3. Hi Maria,

    Thank you so much for your detailed explanation. I haven’t tested the block yet on the muslin and I will start today on my day off work. It makes sense because I aim to create and fitted long sleeve button up shirt. I have notice in some of my store bought fitted shirt bending my elbow can be restricted a bit.

    Thank you so much for your dedication.

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