Everything you need to know about sleeves!

Once again this season, the catwalks and high streets are full of statement sleeves. We have all fallen in love with these attention-grabbing sleeves and we are seeing more of them creeping into sewing patterns too.  So, as a dressmaker, we want to give you a guide to make sure you know your Bishop from your Leg of Mutton! Read more for everything you need to know about sleeves!

We love these sleeve guides from Mood Fabrics


These images give you a great idea of how the sleeve will look on your garment. You can see that the majority of them are based on a standard set-in sleeve, so it is easy to switch between designs. You can switch between sleeves on any top, dress shirt, jacket or coat.


The above graphic is really interesting as it shows how the sleeve looks as a pattern piece. As you can see, some of them will require a lot of fabric, so bear that in mind when choosing your sleeve!

Things to consider

Swapping to a statement sleeve might feel a little bit intimidating but we think that once you experience your first statement sleeve there will be no going back! Just remember that you have lots of options, even with one sleeve pattern, to make it your own.


Start by thinking about the length you want your sleeve to be. Will it be short, elbow, 3/4 length or full length? Remember that any sleeve can be made long or short as you like and it could completely change how it will look just by making this simple adjustment.



Consider how much volume you want, and essentially where you want this volume to be. A sleeve with volume at the shoulder will look very different to having more volume at the cuff. Also consider whether you will leave the sleeve wide or bring in the volume with a cuff, making it more manageable to wear.

Alexander McQueen 2018

Fabric choice is key

It is very important to choose the right fabric for your statement sleeve. Whether you choose a fabric with body or with drape, it can drastically change the shape you achieve through your sleeve. We like to experiment with our fabric before we cut it. Just try folding it into pleats or into gathers and see how well it holds to give you an idea of what fabric to go for.


If you want to learn how to design your own sleeves then you should check out our new online class. We cover everything you need to know to get great fitting sleeves with lots of personality. We teach you just enough of the basics of pattern drafting to allow you to create 12 different sleeve designs that can be as subtle or dramatic as you wish.


Why not check out all of our classes, especially as we currently have them all reduced in price while we deal with Coronavirus.

We hope this blog post has given you everything you need to know about sleeves! There will be no stopping you now making huge statement sleeves for every garment.

Stay safe, keep smiling, happy sewing!

Nikki & Rachel

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