I recently uploaded a video tutorial on raglan sleeve pattern drafting, but thought it would also benefit my readers to add a text and photo tutorial on 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.
This 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.
What Is A Raglan Sleeve?
In case you are unaware, the raglan sleeve is a type of sleeve style, which differs from a traditional sleeve in that the style line starts at the armhole notch and extends to the neckline. There is no ‘armhole’ to be set in, because the sleeve is extended upwards based on the style line.
The raglan sleeve came about in the 1800s. It is said that it was named such after the loss of an arm by Lord Raglan in the Battle of Waterloo, who then needed a modified sleeve style.
It became popular in sportswear – presumably because of the increase in mobility with the cut away sleeve – but also casual wear garments have taken on the raglan style-line too. I used it myself for the collection I showed at Graduate Fashion Week, as can be seen in the photo below!
I will cover how to sew the raglan sleeve in a separate tutorial – lets move onto drafting the raglan sleeve pattern!
What You’ll Need
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:
- Ruler / pattern master
- Awl (if you need to pivot any darts)
- 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 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.
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.
Draw a line parallel to the first.
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.
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.
Draw a line connecting the mark on your front neckline with the armhole notch as shown.
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.
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.
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‘.
Finally, don’t forget to mark in clear notches – you can see mine in the front pattern pieces below.
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.
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.
Now you can trace around the back bodice sloper / block.
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.
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.
You can see more clearly what I mean by the above direction in the photo below. Then trace off the back sleeve as shown.
Connect the ease line to the straight edge of the sleeve.
Measure in the point on the back neckline that you want your raglan style line to start from.
Connect that point to the armhole notch with a straight line, though you can of course modify this to your design needs later.
You can see in the below photo of my development pattern that I have created a curve to my back raglan sleeve 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.
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!
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.
I’ll be posting part two this week which covers sewing the raglan sleeve, so do stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let me know in the comments whether you’ll be trying this sleeve style out for yourself!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.