Today we will be venturing into the world of the raglan sleeve. Are you as excited as I am?! As you can see, I’m very happy to add a new sleeve type to my homemade sewing patterns! This tutorial will make a long sleeve raglan shirt with bands around both the neckline and bottom of the shirt. So, without further ado, lets get on with my raglan shirt tutorial!
I did some research and found that there are many different ways that people get to their own raglan sleeve pattern; some more difficult to follow than others. I drew my inspiration for making the pattern from this blog post by Melly (who does amazing work), for the neck and waist bands from this blog post by Elizabeth, and for the slight curve on the raglan sleeve cut from this post by Autumn. I am ever grateful for the wonderful blogs out there that keep on helping me along the way.
The hardest part of this raglan shirt tutorial for me was making the pattern, but no worries, I’ve got a step-by-step tutorial in the following. This took a little while for me to wrap my brain around it, but it helped a lot for me to visualize how the pieces all fit together…
For today, we will make our own pattern for the raglan sleeve. Go ahead and find a short sleeve shirt that fits you well, along sleeve shirt you like the arm length of, some pattern paper (I use newspaper print because as an artist I have a lot of that around), tracing paper if you have it, a ruler, pencil, and scissors. Just as a note, none of the patterns we will make will have a seam allowance so we will have to remember to add them later.
- 1¼ – 1½ yards of a knit fabric
- matching thread
Now onto my Long Sleeve Raglan Shirt Tutorial
MAKING THE PATTERN
1. Trace out your shirt onto pattern paper following the neckline of the back of the shirt (I’m tracing onto an old pattern piece that I made before this). Don’t add seam allowances as we will get to that later. Cut this out, fold it in half, and cut around the edges to make both sides of the shirt even.
Mark both armpits and either side of the neckline.
Because we will be adding a 1″ neck band to the shirt, cut 1″ away from the neckline on the back of the shirt.
2. Make a second copy of this shirt pattern. This time, adjust the neckline as you wish to have on the front of the shirt. Remember that we will be adding a 1″ band to the neckline. Cut out the front part of the shirt.
3. The next step is to mark the diagonal lines where the raglan sleeve will connect to the shirt. On the front shirt, mark a line 2″ down from the top of the neckline. Draw a straight line connecting this mark to the armpit and the neckline.
Place the front shirt over the back shirt and line up the sleeves and armpits. Mark onto the back shirt where the diagonal on the front shirt ends. Using a ruler, draw a line connecting this line to the armpit and up to the neckline.
Now we have to transfer this diagonal line to the back of the sleeve. Once you have this line, mark the spots on the edges where the line ends on the both the neckline and armpit on the opposite side of the back shirt. Using a ruler, draw a straight line connecting these marks.
4. Now to make our sleeve pattern. We’re going to need tracing paper to help us get the neckline and diagonal shapes before making our actual pattern. Line up the front and back shirts. Tape the top of the shoulders together where you would sew them on a traditional sleeved shirt. Open up the shirt so the front and back shirt pieces lay flat where the tape is holding them together. Put a piece of tracing paper over the shirts and mark the middle of the shoulder where the two shirt pieces are taped together.
Trace out both diagonals where the raglan sleeve will attach to the front and back shirts and trace along the neckline in between those diagonals. Mark a line along where the diagonal meets the armpits. Take a ruler and lengthen the mark previously made where the front and back shirt connect. At this point you may also want to write “front” and “back” on the sleeve to mark which part the sleeve connects to.
Cut out the pattern piece around the top along the diagonal, across the neckline, and back down the other diagonal.
Take the piece of paper you will be using as your long sleeve pattern and fold it in half providing yourself with a line (we will use this as the middle of the sleeve). Copy around the tracing paper onto your pattern paper, making sure to line up the folded line on the sleeve pattern paper with the marked line on the tracing. Mark where the armpits belong (I am tracing mine on a failed prior attempt at making raglan sleeves).
Take the long sleeve shirt you like the arm length of, and line it up along line of the fold. Mark where the sleeve ends and mark the final width of the sleeve. Take a straight edge and draw a line from the armpit mark to the end width at the bottom of the sleeve. Cut off the paper along this line, up around the diagonal, across the neckline, and back down to the other diagonal. Before I forget, let’s also write “front” and “back” onto the location of the sleeve where it attaches to the front and back shirt. Fold the sleeve pattern along the fold we already made and trace out the other side. Cut the rest of the sleeve out.
Now we have our sleeve! *Yay!*
5. The final pattern piece we need to make is the waist band. We’ll make the neck band once we sew our shirt together. For the waist band, measure the length along the bottom of the shirt. Draw that length minus ½” onto a piece of pattern paper, make it 5″ wide, and cut it out. This will be your waist band but remember that it only represents half.
5. Now we finally get to cut the diagonals off the shirt patterns. Your shirt patterns should still be taped together at the one shoulder. together, fold the shirt patterns in half along the existing fold. The diagonal line for the raglan sleeve is already drawn along the one shoulder. With the pattern pieces folded in half, cut along that line through both the front and back shirt patterns.
6. For the finishing touch, line up the back part of the raglan sleeve with the back shirt. Draw a slight curve along the the edge where the raglan sleeve meets the shirt, with the greater part of the curve toward the armpit. Cut this out.
Repeat this for the front shirt. Match up the front part of the raglan sleeve with the front shirt. Draw along where the sleeve had been cut away. Cut this out.
Now we have all our pattern pieces.
MAKING THE SHIRT
1. Pin/trace your pattern pieces onto the wrong side of your fabric adding your desired seam allowances. Make sure to orient the grain of the fabric so the stretch goes from side to side for your shirt and along the width of the sleeves (see diagram above). I traced my pattern pieces onto the fabric using white pastels. Cut these out. *The picture below shows my first attempt at the neck band which did not work out to plan. Just ignore that piece!
My fabric got curly around the edges, so at this point, if applicable, iron out your pieces and fold them in half to double check your handiwork and make sure they are symmetrical.
2. Now for the sewing! Right sides together, pin and sew the front of each sleeve diagonal to the front of the shirt.
Right sides together, pin and sew the back of each sleeve diagonal to the back of the shirt.
3. Right sides together, pin and sew the bottom of the sleeves and the sides of the shirt together, making sure that the armpits match up. Start at the cuff of the sleeves, sew along the sleeves curving around the armpits and down the sides. A nice smooth line.
Try on your shirt and make sure the sleeves and sides fit well. Resew seams as necessary taking it in if you need to.
4. The next part we will add will be the neck band. Take a measuring tape and figure out the length of the neckline. Cut out a 3″ strip of material to that same length minus 1″. My neckline was 36½” so I will cut out a 3″ strip 35½” long. With a ½” hem allowance, the overall length of the neck band will be 2″ shorter than the neckline which is what we want. Take the ends of your neck band and, right sides together, pin and sew the ends together with a ½” seam allowance so they form a circle. If desired, trim the seam.
When we attach our neck band to the shirt, we want to make sure that sewed end of then neck band matches up with the middle of the back of the shirt. To help orient myself, I mark the middle of the front neckline, the middle of the back neckline, and the top of each shoulder with pins.
Now to attach the neck band to the shirt. Wrong sides together (now that’s a first!) fold your neck band circle in half lengthwise so the 3″ width of the neck band is 1½”. (*Because the fabric on my neck band keeps wanting to curl in, I’m sewing the ends along the length of the neck band). Using the pins as your guide, attach the neck band to the right side of your fabric (attach the edge opposite the fold), making sure the neck band seam lines up with the middle of the back of the shirt. The neck band should be smaller than your neckline, which is good because it ensures that the neck of your shirt keeps its shape. Sew your neck band to your shirt, making sure to stretch the neck band as you sew.
5. Next, we will add the waist band. As with the neck band, take the ends of your waist band and, right sides together, pin and sew the ends together with a ½” seam allowance so they form a circle. If desired, trim the seam.
Now attach the waist band to the bottom of your shirt. Wrong sides together, fold your circle in half lengthwise so the 5″ width of the waist band is 2½”. (I’m going to sew the ends lengthwise of my waist band together again since they keep curling). Attach the edge of the waist band to the right side of the bottom of the shirt. The waist band should be slightly smaller than the waist on your shirt. Stretch it to pin it in place and sew it together.
6. The final step is to hem the sleeves to your desired length. I have a hard time finding shirts with long enough sleeves for me, so I made these really long. Fold your sleeves in, wrong side to wrong side. Fold this in, yet again, pin and sew in place.
And you’re done! I hope you enjoyed my Long Sleeve Raglan Shirt Tutorial!