How To Draft Basic (Plain) Set-in Sleeves?

This post deals with drafting instructions for Basic (Plain) Set-in Sleeves that can be used as a base for many of the style variations in Set-in Sleeve.

Hello my dear Tantu Reader!

Weather has changed surprisingly quickly since this Monday as if teasing my words in last post that was scheduled and published on Monday. Clouds dance and dance and dance welcoming the spring! I feel like watching them for the whole day and think, won’t they get tired???

Hmm, I had to wake up for fulfilling the request placed by Ms. Umayal Anand for sleeve drafting instructions and thought of a second post for this week. So, I am back again with Set-in Sleeves!

What are Set-in Sleeves?

Sleeves that are set-into armscye line at shoulder are known as set-in sleeves. They cover the arm part only unlike the raglans that cover even the shoulder.

Basic Set-in Sleeve or Plain Sleeve

Basic set-in sleeve is without any style features. Once the basic construction is understood, it is easy to add any style feature to it.


Three-quarter Basic (Plain) Set-in Sleeve

Above shown is a blouse with slightly below elbow (almost three-quarter long) plain sleeves designed by me in the beginning of year 2010. This type of sleeves was a trend in 2013. Sewn by my all time favourite dressmaker/tailor Mr. Mohan, Setwell Tailors, Puttur. Photography credits to my sister, Ms. Shwetha Ulhas, who patiently spent her precious time to take a good snap (finally!) of a non-cooperative and very shy model (that is me :D). For a short Plain Set-in Style Blouse picture, please click here.

How to Draft Basic Set-in Sleeve Pattern?

Measurements required

  • Upper Arm Round: This measurement is either taken directly around the upper arm or calculated using the bust circumference.

While calculating from bust circumference, measurements can be taken differently.

1/6th of Bust Circumference +3cm (This measurement results a stylish look with standing out hem at the arm. The more the upper arm round taken, the more stylish the look is.)


1/8th of Bust Circumference + 3.5cm (This measurement is lesser than the previous one and creates an arm hugging hem.)

  • Sleeve Length
  • Sleeve Round: Measurement taken round the arm where the sleeve ends.

Drafting Instructions


Drafting Instructions – Basic (Plain) Set-in Sleeve

The instructions are given in the drafting diagram above. Following note would give clearer idea.

1. Take pattern paper on fold. Block out a rectangle having

  • ½  of round  the upper arm measurement (= 1/6th of bust Circumference + 3cm + 2.5 seam allowance ) as width
  • sleeve length (= desired Sleeve Length + 1cm seam allowance at top and 2cm to 5cm seam allowance at bottom) as length

Draw a horizontal line at 1/12th of bust circumference measuring from the top. This would define the sleeve cap height. Width of this line is same as the Upper Arm Round. Note down 2.5cm seam allowance given at the side. It means that seam line falls 2.5cm inside the outline. This is the position of arm pit.

Mark deeper front armscye curve and back armscye curve as shown in red colour. These curves form smooth shapes of letter ‘S’ in reverse.  Remember, this entire curved line must measure equal to the armscye round measurement and curved armscye line of the bodice.

Armscye curves of front and back should match at arm pit (that is, 2.5cm inside the Sleeve cap line). These curves may require stretching and shaping at various points to match it to the armscye of the bodice. Care is taken to match the sleeve centre (fold line in the picture above) to the shoulder seam.

Measure ½ of sleeve round and mark it at the bottom as shown.  Some ease may also be included. Join this point to the arm pit marked already as shown in orange dotted line. Add 2.5cm seam allowance and draw another line parallel to the previous line. This is the cutting line.

The green dotted line is the bottom fold line. Fold the extra bottom part twice up to the green line while hemming.

Mark vertical grain line for longer sleeves. Mark horizontal grain line for short sleeves. Even diagonal grain line can be marked. This marking entirely depends upon the stretch, fall and drape required.

Cut 2 parts, one for left and the other for right. Sleeves for left and right side would be mirror image of each other.

Note: This construction details are for a short basic/plain sleeve.

Set-in Sleeves Patterns On Fold

Set-in Sleeves Patterns On Fold

Patterns look as below, when open.


Set-in Sleeves Patterns kept Open

Thus we completed drafting! Some of the common style variations of Basic/Plain Set-in Sleeve are – puff sleeves, bell sleeves, cap sleeves, petal sleeves and so on… Click here to view the Draped Designer Salwar Kameez with a gathered style variation. I have a fair collection of different blouse styles. Will show them in future 🙂

Did you find this post useful? Your affectionate comments with valuable feedback help Tantu to deliver what you wish 🙂

Take care!

Bye until the next post!

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A nature lover and dreamer who expresses herself as an artist, fashion designer and blogger. Persued B.Sc fashion design at Karavali College (Mangaluru University 2003 - 2006) with first rank. Former lecturer for fashion designing at Gloria College, Puttur for five years (2006-2011). Blogger since 2013.


  1. You are looking beautiful. Nice detailed post on Set-in Sleeve. I got stitched salwar suit recently in this sleeve pattern.

  2. Wow! Nice to see you sharing your talent. 🙂
    You look lovely!

  3. Don’t know much about the sleeves but you look stunning!

  4. HI Sindhu,
    Fantastic details..and i m the F grade in this the way Nice pics of yours – simple and nice – Thanks for sharing and commenting on ny post..I hope my posts helps somewhat…
    Thanks once again
    Have a great Day Ahead
    Bhavikk shah

    • Hi Bhavikk!
      Ha haa 😀 So, we complement each other in our F-grades 😀 Yes, your posts are very useful ones 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words, they matter a lot!
      Happy weekend! TC! Keep smiling!

  5. great post!Really very helpful but just clarify the difference between 2 msmt calculation given under upper arm round.What is the meaning of arm hugging hem?

    • Thank you Arja, glad you found it useful 🙂

      Your doubt: The two measurement calculations for upper arm round result different hangs on the arms and the impact on the look is explained within the brackets 🙂 That is, the more wide you take the upper arm round, the more away the sleeve bottom hem from the arm. Do you know the cap sleeves? Just like that.

      I hope I have made myself clear!

      TC! Keep smiling! Visit again!

  6. Good post and someone who has the passion for learning this art would certainly take this opportunity to get free instructions. You look good in the saree! Keep rocking.

    • Thanks for your valuable feedback and compliments Fayazji 🙂 I feel, knowledge should not be isolated, what say?

      TC! Keep visiting! Keep smiling!

  7. pl help with how to stitch sleeves to blouse bodice?

  8. Hi,you didn’t ans to my queries.I just want to know as there are 2 method of stitching sleeves, which one you use it ?

    • Hi Paru,
      Very sorry for replying you so late 🙁 Could you please be more clear? As far as I know, there is only one way to attach sleeves… Could you please tell me what are the two methods you are talking about?

      Hope to learn something from you 🙂 Awaiting your reply!

  9. Sorry for replying late due to health issues for few mths. I have learnt 2 methods 1) first stitch sleeve to bodice and then do fitting from both the sides.2) first do fitting from both the sides of bodice,then stitch sleeve to bodice.Which 1 do you follow?

    • Hi Paru,

      Sorry about your health issues. I hope you are doing good now…

      So, you were asking about the sequence of attaching sleeves in blouse sewing! I join the sleeves first and then do the side seams (fitting, as you said). This method allows me to easily do any future alterations needed than in the second sequence you have mentioned. Because, our armhole dimension changes only when we put on or lose too much weight. But, the side seam may need to be altered with slightest weight changes. Which one do you follow?

      Yes, I am planning for a post on attaching sleeves to bodice. Expect a post soon.

  10. good post. hi sindhoo i have a problem in my kurti. My sleeve round is 1″ less than the armhole perimeter. could u pls. tell me how to adjust this.

    Thanks in advance

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