Instructions: Sleeve Block

These are the step-by-step instructions for drafting the Sleeve Block. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the downloadable PDF file of these instructions.

This sleeve is made to fit the personalised Bodice Block, therefore you need to make that first.

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Example - Finished Sleeve Block

This first image is what the block looks like at the end of the step-by-step instructions below, using the measurements specified on the Preliminary Tab.  The shape of yours may end up looking quite different.

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Comparison - My Sleeve Block

This is what my block, using my personal measurements, looks like.   This is to show you that if the shape of your block ends up looking quite different to the one I am making in the example that you are following along with, it doesn't matter (as long as you are using your correct measurements, of course!).  This is the point of making your own block: it will reflect what your body looks like.

Cap Height and Bicep

The measurements required to make the Sleeve Block include the Cap Height, a measurement taken from your body.

However, we will first work out the ideal Cap Height for your Bicep & Armhole measurements.  It is the ideal Cap Height because it will result in a sleeve with minimum ease in the sleeve cap. We will then mark and compare the actual Cap Height measurement taken from your body.

Sleeve Block Figure 1

We will first use the Bicep and Armhole measurements to work the ideal Cap Height.

  • Draw a horizontal guideline (from A to B) about 6 inches wider than your bicep measurement. Making it around number will make it easier.  This horizontal line is the Bicep line.
  • Mark the half-way point of this line and label it C. Draw a guide line up from C, at right angles to the A~B line.  Make this about 7 or 8 inches high.  This vertical line is the Cap Height line.
  • With C at the centre, draw a line that is the width of the Bicep +2-inches ease or Bicep + 4-inches ease*. Label the two end points of this bicep line E and F as shown.
  • We will mark the Cap Height on the C~D line in the next step.

* 2 inches ease is the standard.  Some people may need more.  If you often have problems with the sleeves of store purchasing clothing being either too tight in the bicep or being constrictive when moving your arms forward, you may need up to 4 inches ease.  Read Ease in the Bicep (menu on this page).

(For this example - From A to B = 16", Bicep line is 10.88 + 2 inches ease = 12.88").

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Sleeve Block Figure 2

Note that in this step we aren't drawing a line; we are just measuring up from the Bicep line and marking a point on the Cap Height line.

  • Add together the following measurements for the next step:  (Front Armhole + Back Armhole + sleeve cap ease*), and divide by 2.
  • Using that measurement, measure up from point E on the (Bicep) line to touch the C~D (Cap Height) line, and where it touches, mark it G.   This is the ideal Cap Height.

*The amount of ease added for the sleeve cap curve increases with size,  see the Preliminary page for details of how much sleeve cap ease to add to the armhole measurements.

(For this example: [8.56 Armhole Front + 8.77 Armhole Back + 0.5 ease] = 17.83 ÷ 2 = 8.92)

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Sleeve Block Figure 3

Now we are going to move the bicep line to reflect the actual back and front armhole measurements in relation to the shoulder tip point (G).  At the moment the shoulder tip point is exactly in the middle of the sleeve, whereas the front and back armhole measurements may be significantly different.  (In this example they are very similar; further down there is a link to an example where they are different, so you can more clearly see what we are trying to achieve).

  • Back Armhole measurement + half (sleeve cap) ease measurement:  Measure and draw a line from G towards the point E to meet the line A~D, and label the point H.   If the back armhole measurement is larger than the front armhole, the point H will be to the left of point E.  If the back armhole measurement is smaller than the front, H will be to the right of E.
  • Front Armhole measurement + half (sleeve cap) ease measurement:  Measure and draw a line from G towards the point F to meet the line A~D, and label the point I.   If the front armhole measurement is larger than the front armhole,  the point I will be to the right of point F.  If the front armhole measurement is smaller than the front, it will be to the left of F.
  • The Bicep line is now from H to I rather than from E to F.  This may be slightly less (1/16 or 1/8 inch) than the original E~F line.

In THIS example it isn't really obvious, as the front and back measurements are very similar.  It will be more obvious in cases where the back and front measurements are significantly different; e.g. a forward sloping shoulder.  Click here to see an example where it is more obvious.

(For this example: Back Armhole line = 8.77 + 0.25 = 9.02 in, Front Armhole line = 8.81 + 0.25 = 8.81 in)

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Sleeve Block Figure 4

We are now going to mark the actual (body measurement) Cap Height and compare it to the Ideal Cap Height that we calculated from the Bicep and Armhole measurements in the previous steps.

  • Using your body Cap Height measurement, measure up from C towards G.  Label the point J.

Note the following:

  • If you have a standard figure, and you have used 2-inches ease G and J should be very close.  If J is lower than G, use G as your Cap Height.  If J is higher than G, use J as your Cap Height.
  • If you used 4 inches ease for your bicep, the difference between G & J may be significant.  You could use either as your Cap Height, but see the note below.*

*For those with a large difference between G and J:  If you use G as your Cap Height point, you will have minimum ease in the sleeve cap, but the sleeve will have a bit of flare.  If you use J as your Cap Height, you will have more than the minimum amount of ease in the sleeve cap (which means tucks, gathers, a dart or a design line), but you will have a more fitting sleeve.

In this example (since I am using standard measurements), G & J are very close; G is 6.31 inches and J is 6.13 inches.  From Image 5  I will use G as the Cap Height and J will not be shown.  I will also stop showing points E & F from Image 5.

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Sleeve Block Figure 5

  • Full-Length Sleeve: Measure down from G (or J), through C (to be at right angles to the Bicep line), and mark the end point K.  Draw a guide-line at right angles to the G~K line, about the same width as the bicep.  This is the wrist line.
  • Cap to Elbow: Measure down from G (or J) on the G~K  (or J~K) line, and label the elbow depth L.
  • Elbow circumference + elbow ease:* Using this measurement, draw a line with L as the centre, at right angles to the G/J~L line.  Label the ends of the elbow line M (back) and N (front).
  • Guide for underarm seam line back: Draw a line from H to the wrist line, touching the elbow point M.  Where the line meets the wrist line, label the point O.
  • Guide for underarm seam line front: Draw a line from I to the wrist line, touching the elbow point N.  Where the line meets the wrist line, label the point P.

*Elbow ease:  Add 1.25 inches if you used 2 inches ease in the bicep.  Add 2.5 inches ease if you used 4 inches ease in your bicep.

For this example: Full Length Sleeve = 22.5", Cap to Elbow = 14.13" & Elbow Circumference = 10 + 1.25 = 11.25".

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Sleeve Block Figure 6

  • Extend the line N-M beyond M for 0.25-inches and label the point Q.
  • Measure down 1-inch from M on the M~O line, and label the end point R. This is the dart width.
  • Measure in 0.63-inch from O on the O~P line, mark the point S.

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Sleeve Block Figure 7

Sleeve Head:

We will first divide the back and front armhole lines into quarters in preparation for drawing the sleeve cap curve.

  • Measure the length from H~G (or H~J) and divide by 4. Using this measurement, mark the halfway and quarter points of this line.  Label the points R, S & T as shown.
  • Measure the length from I~G (or I~J) and divide by 4. Using this measurement, mark the halfway and quarter points of this line.  Label the points U, V & W as shown.

Elbow Dart:

  • Measure the dart length from Q on the Q-N line.  Mark the dart point.
  • Using the same measurement (both dart legs have to be the same length), measure from the dart point through point R and mark the end point T.

(* For this size, the dart length is 3.25".  See the measurement information on the Preliminary Tab for how long to make your dart).

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Sleeve Block Figure 8

Sleeve Head - Back:

(Note:  the orange line is the sleeve cap you will be drawing in the next step. It is shown here to clarify the instructions below).

  • Measure outwards at R (at right angles to the A~G or A~J line) for 0.75 inch.
  • Measure outwards at S (at right angles to the A~G or A~J line) for 0.31 inch (5/16").
  • Measure inwards at T (at right angles to A~G or A~J line) for 0.25 inch.

Sleeve Head Front:

  • Measure outwards at U (at right angles to the H~G or H~J line) for 0.88 inch (7/8").
  • Measure outwards at V (at right angles to the H~G or H~J line) for 0.25 inch.
  • Measure inwards at W (at right angles to the H~G or H~J line) for 0.5 inch.

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Sleeve Block Figure 9

Draw Back and Front of Sleeve Cap:

  • Draw the sleeve cap using a French Ruler as shown, with the Back Curve touching H, T, S, R & G, and the front curve touching I, W, V, U & G.

If you measure the final curve head - from H to I - it should be about 1.25 to 1.75 inches more than the F&B armhole measurements added together.

In this example: Front & Back Armhole measurements (without ease) = 17.33".  The Sleeve-head curve = 19.05".  Amount of Sleeve-head ease = 1.72".

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Sleeve Block Figure 10

Finishing off the underarm seam and wrist line

  • Draw a line from H to Q.
  • Measure from N to P.
  • Draw a line from T through point S to be the same value as N~P.  Mark the end point U.
  • Use a French ruler to draw a smooth curve for the wrist from U to P.

Mark the back and front notch points on the sleeve cap

  • Put two notch marks on the Back of the Sleeve-head at the cross-over point between S & T.  (Two notch points differentiates it from the front).
  • Put one notch mark on the front of the Sleeve-head at the crossover point between V & W.

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You are Finished the Sleeve Block!

You can now:

  • Mark the grainline
  • Mark the notch points
  • Label the block (e.g. Fitted Sleeve, Size, Name, etc..)
  • Cut out the block shape from the cardboard.
  • Clip the notch point
  • Use an awl or sharp implement to punch out the dart point

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Note:

You will need to mark the Notches on the Bodice Back and Front.

  • *Walk the Bodice Back** armhole curve against the back sleeve cap curve from the underarm up to the sleeve cap and mark where it ends.
  • Walk the Bodice Front** armhole curve against the front sleeve cap curve from the underarm up to the sleeve cap and mark where it ends.
  • The amount left over at the top between the two mark made is the ease.  Measure this amount and check that you have between 1.25 and 1.75 inches ease.
  • When you are walking the back and front armholes and you reach the front/back notch marks on the sleeve cap, mark these on the bodice pieces.

You will need to turn the Bodice Back and Bodice Back over to walk the seams against the sleeve cap .

See the article Walking a Seam for a step-by-step example.

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