Different Types of Sleeves with Names and Pictures

What is Sleeve?
A sleeve is the part of the garment that covers all or part of the arm. It is an important design feature, as well as a functional element that provides warmth and protection. Sleeves can be long or short, narrow or full, gathered or pleated, cuffed or plain, exaggerated or minimized. The perfection of the sleeves in any garment is important for both functional and aesthetic performance. Sleeves come in all shapes and lengths and form an important part of the design of a garment. In a garment, the sleeve is the portion around the arm area of the wearer where it should not arrest the mobility of the wearer. The arm primarily functions in a forward motion, but in reality it can move in every direction. To impart this kind of flexibility, the fit of the sleeve is important. So the sleeve must be designed with a perfect fit, with proper amount of ease for movement of the arm. Before a sleeve is stitched to the bodice, it is necessary to know whether the cap ease is sufficient and is equally distributed between the front and back armhole. A standard sleeve with a perfect fit aligns with or is slightly forward of the side seam of the form. A set-in sleeve should always hang from the end of the wearer’s shoulder, without wrinkles. The lower end of the sleeve is normally finished by means of a hem, an elastic, or a cuff.

sleeve length
Figure 1: Sleeve length

One of the characteristics of fashion in dresses could be the use of different patterns of the sleeve which varies in every country and period. By having a single basic sleeve silhouette, any number of sleeve designs can be developed. Once a basic sleeve has been produced, it may be faced, piped and trimmed in countless ways in order to enhance the fabric aesthetically.

Different Types of Sleeves:
Various styles and types of sleeves found on garments. The different styles of sleeve have definite names like bishop sleeve, bellshaped sleeve, raglan sleeve, kimono sleeve, dolman sleeve, butterfly sleeve, flutter sleeve etc., but most of the sleeves are defined based on their fit levels (tight, loose, shaped), their length (short, three-quarter, elbow-length, etc.), their outline or shape (full at the shoulder, widening around elbow, narrowing toward the wrist etc.) or to style details such as cuffs, openings and trimmings.

types of sleeves
Figure 2: Types of sleeves

There are two basic classifications of sleeves: sleeves cut separately from the bodice and sleeves cut-in-one with the bodice (see Figures 3 and 4).

Set-in sleeve cut separately from the bodice
Figure 3: Set-in sleeve cut separately from the bodice

Sleeves that are cut separately are later joined to the bodice; sleeves cut-in-one with the bodice, such as the kimono sleeve, are cut as an extension of the bodice.

Kimono sleeve cut in one piece with the bodice
Figure 4: Kimono sleeve cut in one piece with the bodice

There are two basic types of sleeve:

  1. Straight types of sleeves and
  2. Shaped types of sleeves

1. Straight Sleeve Types:
The straight sleeve does not drape along the natural curve of the arm and hence this kind of construction does not allow the bending of the elbow and does not fit neatly. This kind of sleeve hangs loosely; however, it provides an easy and comfortable fit. Its comfort depends on its loose fit so that the whole arm moves freely inside it. The straight sleeve is used for a variety of styles – short, mid-length and long and in a variety of garments, such as blouses, dresses, nightwear, overalls and even coats. Figure 5 shows the view of a straight sleeve.

straight sleeve
Figure 5: Straight sleeve

Basic Sleeve or Set-in Sleeve:
The basic sleeve is a mounted sleeve, and it is drafted to fit a basic armhole. The basic sleeve is used as a foundation upon which an understanding of all other sleeves can be made. It can be made in different lengths.

Length of different sleeves
Figure 6: Length of different sleeves

a) Short sleeve: This is a sleeve covering the arm up to the middle of the biceps and triceps area.

Short sleeve
Figure 7: Short sleeve

b) Mid length: A sleeve from the shoulder to a length mid-way between the elbow and the wrist.

mid length sleeve
Figure 8: Mid length sleeve

c) Long sleeve: A sleeve extending up to the wrist level, that is, it covers the full arm.

long sleeve
Figure 9: Long sleeve

2. Shaped Sleeve Types:
Shaped sleeves are constructed such that they follow the natural shape of the arm and help in the bending of the arm at the elbow. This kind of sleeve has some ‘dart fullness,’ which controls its shape, to fit the sleeve to a curve. These sleeves should have equivalent fullness or a dart, and this ‘dart fullness’ can be moved from one position to another.

The straight sleeve is the primary sleeve pattern from which all types of shaped sleeves are designed. Shaped sleeves are further classified as sleeves with armscye and sleeves without armscye.

Sleeves with armscye:

a) Puff sleeves: Sleeves that have extra fullness in certain parts (hem, cap or both) of the sleeve. These sleeves can be of any length and fullness. They are designed in the form of gathers by taking in more fabric. The base used for developing this sleeve is the dartless half pattern. The puffed sleeve is most popular among children and young students as it gives a youthful look.

Puff sleeve
Figure 10: Puff sleeve

b) Bell sleeve: The name bell sleeve is derived from the basic pattern ‘silhouette.’ A bell sleeve has a smooth cap and a hemline flaring out in the shape of a bell. These sleeves can be designed to any length and flare as required.

Bell sleeve
Figure 11: Bell sleeve

c) Petal sleeve: Petal sleeves are similar to the shaped sleeves. The only variation is that this sleeve resembles a petal as the sleeve sections cross over each other at the cap. The sleeves are developed at varying lengths in a number of ways by using a full dartless sleeve block.

Petal sleeve
Figure 12: Petal sleeve

d) Lantern sleeve: Lantern sleeve has two sections where the sleeve widens itself from the cap and hemline to a style line within the sleeve of varying length.

Lantern sleeve
Figure 13: Lantern sleeve

e) Bishop sleeve: These are gathered into a cuff of a long sleeve, fuller at the bottom than the top.

Bishop sleeve
Figure 14: Bishop sleeve

f) Cap sleeve: These types of sleeves are often referred as ‘sleeveless’. These sleeves are designed to cover the shoulders as they are very short. They do not go below the armpit level.

Cap sleeve
Figure 15: Cap sleeve

g) Leg of mutton sleeve: The sleeve that extremely flares out at the upper arm and narrows down from the elbow to the wrist.

Leg of mutton sleeve
Figure 16: Leg of mutton sleeve

Sleeves without armscye:
The upper parts of any garment like jackets, blouse, coats, and shirts can be attached to the sleeve in a variety of ways. The basic sleeve pattern can be used as a base to develop numerous designs by making small modifications in their special characteristics or by changing their style. These sleeve-bodice combinations are categorized as follows:

a) Kimono designs: The sleeve merges well with the top of the garment and is developed by combining the sleeve length with the bodice or top (Figure 3).

b) Raglan designs: When compared to the above design in raglan design the sleeve combines with the armhole and the shoulder area of the garment. This design can be imparted in any garments especially bodice, dress, blouse, jacket, or coat. In order to improve comfort to the wearer, the armhole is lowered at varying depths.

Raglan sleeve
Figure 17: Raglan sleeve

c) Drop shoulder designs: Only a part of the sleeve cap combines with the garment. It doesn’t if the garment is stitched without the lower sleeve.

Drop shoulder designs
Figure 18: Drop shoulder designs

d) Deep-cut armhole: The entire portion of the armhole combines with the sleeve.

Deep-cut armhole
Figure 19: Deep-cut armhole

e) Dolman sleeve: This sleeve is most preferred when a high arm lift is required. Here the sleeve is designed with a deep armhole. It is lowered under the seams with exaggerated folds under the arms.

Dolman sleeve
Figure 20: Dolman sleeve

Sleeve Construction Process:
A few sleeves, such as the dolman, are cut as part of the garment, but most sleeves, including set-in and raglan, are made separately and then inserted into the armhole. Whichever type of sleeve is being inserted, always place it to the armhole and not the armhole to the sleeve—in other words, always work with the sleeve facing you.

Procedure for construction of sleeves is given below:

  1. Grain line: The straight grain of the fabric acts as the center of the sleeve along its entire length.
  2. Biceps level: It is the widest portion of the sleeve, which distinguishes the cap from the lower sleeve.
  3. Sleeve cap: It is the portion above the biceps line and is curved.
  4. Cap height: This is the distance between the biceps to the top along the grain line.
  5. Cap ease: It ranges from 1¼″ to 1½″ depending on size.
  6. Elbow level: It is exactly located at the joining point of the arm and the elbow dart.
  7. Wrist level: It is the place where the hand enters the sleeve.
  8. Notches: The presence of notches eases the attachment of the sleeve to the garment and also helps in the identification of the front and back portion of the sleeve. The front sleeve is identified by the presence of a single notch, and two notches mark the back sleeve. Gathers originate from the notches and also end at the notches.

Sleeves come in all shapes and lengths, and form an important part of the design of a garment. Just as with other portions of a garment, sleeves have many variations: short, long, blousy, tailored, full, cuffed, hemmed, or several of these elements combined. Sleeve should always hang properly from the end of the wearer’s shoulder, without wrinkles. The lower end of the sleeve is normally finished by means of a cuff or a facing. Various types of sleeves are used for various purposes in garments.


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