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How To Draft A Raglan Sleeve Pattern

I do love a raglan sleeve myself – I love that they can be used for sporty style garments but also for more dressy items like dresses and tops when we don’t want something to look too formal.

I have a video tutorial on raglan sleeve pattern drafting over on my YouTube channel, but thought it would also help others to add a step by step tutorial here on how to draft a raglan sleeve pattern.

This pattern drafting tutorial will take you through the step by step process of drafting your own raglan sleeve pattern using a very simple method that I learned at fashion school. And if you do prefer video, I’ve added the video tutorial at the bottom.

tutorial on drafting a raglan sleeve pattern!

What Is A Raglan Sleeve?

Popularized back in the mid 19th century by a military commander called Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan – supposedly he lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo and thus needed a modified sleeve style! – the raglan sleeve design was used originally for outerwear items like military coats.

This type of sleeve later became popular in sportswear – presumably because of the increase in mobility with the cut away sleeve – but you will have noticed that many casual wear garments have taken on the raglan style-line too.

In fact, I used it myself for the collection I showed at Graduate Fashion Week, as can be seen in the photo below!

Graduate Fashion Week - Eve Tokens - The Creative Curator
The raglan sleeve style line was used in pink trench coat (far left), lazer cut leather sweater (second left) and bonded lace parka coat (far right).

So you can see, a raglan sleeve differs from the standard sleeve you are used to in that it often eliminates a shoulder seam, with a seam placed on both the front and back bodice patterns instead. This is different from a more traditional type of sleeve and bodice combo, which has an armhole into which a sleeve is ‘set in’.

While it is more commonly seen on casual items of clothing, raglan sleeves have been seen on more formal clothing too.

I have a tutorial on how to sew the raglan sleeve in a separate tutorial so today I’ll show you the process for drafting the raglan sleeve pattern!

What You’ll Need

The pattern blocks / slopers that you'll need to draft a raglan sleeve pattern

To draft the raglan sleeve pattern you’re going to need a few items. First up the blocks or slopers you’ll want are:

  • Front bodice block
  • Back bodice block
  • Basic sleeve block

You can also use existing sewing patterns if you already have one suitable to work with.

You’ll also need some basic pattern making tools:

  • Paper
  • Ruler / pattern master
  • Awl (if you need to pivot any darts)
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape

Drafting The Front Raglan Sleeve Pattern

The method I learned at fashion school requires starting with the front raglan sleeve pattern. For this you’ll need the front bodice sloper / block and the basic sleeve block.

You'll need the sleeve block and a front bodice sloper to get started

You’ll need to take out the ease in the sleeve block – the ease in my ‘Hilda’ block / sloper has the ease is marked in between curved red lines and I’ve added shorter notches too.

You'll need to take out the ease in the sleeve block - my ease is marked in between curved red lines and I've added short notches too.

Then you’ll want to draw a line the length of your paper – it should be long enough to fit your sleeve sloper / block as well as an extension of about 25cm.

In the below photo I’ve extended mine by 13cm which is approximately half, for my half size dress form. You can also trace around the back section of your sleeve sloper now, making sure that the armhole notch is on the line, rather than the centre sleeve line.

Trace off the front of the sleeve sloper / block

Draw a line parallel to the first.

Add a parallel line to the paper

No we can place the front bodice block on the development pattern. I have aligned the front armhole notch on the bodice with the one on the sleeve, and the front neck / shoulder point with the second line that I had drawn in.

Place the front bodice piece on the lines
Lining up the front bodice block / sloper with the front sleeve

You can now trace around the front bodice block ready for the next step.

Take your measuring tape and mark a spot on the front neckline where your raglan sleeve style line will start. I have gone with the standard 3cm (1.5cm Hilda) starting amount, but this can vary depending on the way you want your raglan to look.

Measure along the neckline where the raglan sleeve style line will be placed
Measuring how far in I want the raglan style line to be

Draw a line connecting the mark on your front neckline with the armhole notch as shown.

Draw in the line connecting the neckline mark with the armhole notch
Marking in the raglan sleeve style line

You can now deviate from this line – use it as a guide only. In the first instance, you could simply have a straight raglan style line but I do suggest experimenting once you’ve made one small sample and are ready to experiment.

Tracing The Front Raglan Sleeve

Now that the development pattern for the front sleeve is complete, we can trace off the two separate pieces.

First we trace the bodice pattern – I’m using a red pen so that you can see very clearly. Instead of tracing along the full neckline and shoulder line as we normally would for a set in sleeve style, we instead trace along the raglan styling that we drew in, and connect it to the part curve of the underarm on the bodice piece.

Tracing off the front bodice piece for the raglan sleeve pattern
Tracing off the front bodice piece for the raglan sleeve pattern

We then repeat the process for the front raglan sleeve pattern – you can see quite clearly how I have traced along the front raglan style line, up the remainder of the front neckline and then around the remainder of what was the original sleeve sloper.

Tracing off the front sleeve piece for the raglan sleeve pattern
Tracing off the front sleeve piece for the raglan sleeve pattern

Make sure to ‘walk’ your pattern pieces along the raglan sleeve style line so to ‘true’ them. If you do not know what that means, check out my article on ‘truing patterns‘.

Make sure to 'walk' the two pattern pieces for the front raglan sleeve pattern to make sure they are trued up

Finally, don’t forget to mark in clear notches – you can see mine in the front pattern pieces below.

The two pattern pieces for the front raglan sleeve pattern

Drafting The Back Raglan Sleeve Pattern

Now that the front of the raglan pattern is complete we can move onto drafting the back sleeve pattern.

You’ll need the sleeve sloper / block again as well as the back bodice pattern.

What you need to draft the back raglan sleeve pattern

You also need a key measurement from the front development pattern – the gap between the front shoulder point and the sleeve – you can see how to get this measurement in the photo below. Usually it is around 1cm – my Hilda’s measurement was 0.4cm, which is 0.8cm double up to full size.

A key measurement is taken from the front raglan sleeve development pattern

Now you can trace around the back bodice sloper / block.

Start by tracing off the back bodice sloper when creating the back raglan sleeve pattern

Extend the shoulder line a little way, and them make a mark from the shoulder point that is the same as the measurement you saved from the front.

Extend the shoulder line as much as the front

Place the sleeve sloper / block on the development pattern, lining up the back notch with the back notch on the bodice, then pivot the sleeve until it hits the mark you added in.

Place the sleeve sloper into place

You can see more clearly what I mean by the above direction in the photo below. Then trace off the back sleeve as shown.

Trace around the back section of the sleeve sloper

Connect the ease line to the straight edge of the sleeve.

Connect all parts of the back sleeve sloper

Measure in the point on the back neckline that you want your raglan style line to start from.

Measure inwards on the back neck the desired amount for the back raglan sleeve styleline

Connect that point to the armhole notch with a straight line, though you can of course modify this to your design needs later.

Draft in the style line for the back raglan sleeve pattern

You can see in the below photo of my development pattern that I have created a curve to my back raglan sleeve pattern.

The completed development pattern for the back raglan pattern

Don’t forget tot true the back pattern and add notches the same way we did for the front.

Add seam allowance too so that you can sew up a sample toile / muslin to check the design.

The complete raglan sleeve pattern with seam allowance added

One Piece Raglan Sleeve Pattern

If you’re interested, you can also take the front and back sleeve patterns to create the one piece raglan pattern – simply align the outer seam along the straight edge, and trace around. The curve at the shoulder line is then sewn as a dart instead of a full seam!

How to create the one piece raglan sleeve pattern

Raglan Sleeve Pattern Drafting Video Tutorial

As promised, there is a video tutorial if you’d like to watch along while you’re drafting your own raglan pattern.

You can catch up on part two now which covers sewing the raglan sleeve. Let me know in the comments whether you’ll be trying this sleeve style out for yourself!

Share it out to others!


Friday 10th of February 2023

Hi! thanks for would you draft a raglan for a t-shirt? any advise?