Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Raglan vs. Dolman vs. Set-In: Sleeves for Everyone

Knit garments are another factor in our garment sewing revolution and renaissance. The quality of knit fabric and the amazing new patterns by our featured Indie Pattern Companies are fueling our quest for Me Made garments! Tee shirts have become an important part of every Me Made wardrobe. With all the high quality knit fabric we have, now we can make our own custom garments using the many new patterns from women-run Indie Pattern designers around the world. Knit fabric can be made of cottonrayon, and specialty fibers - all perfect for your next project!

A lot of experienced sewists sort of hit the brick wall when we come to the sleeves of a top, especially if they are the traditional set-in sleeve and even more so if the fabric is woven with little give.  Let's face it, putting in a sleeve takes patience and care, lots of pinning and sometimes even basting.

We've showed you in past posts of one of our favorite summer tees, the Lark Tee by Grainline Studios. This knit tee's set-in sleeves don't require a lot of easing at the shoulders and in the armhole, so as set-in sleeves go, they're pretty straight forward.

Sewaholic's Renfrew tee has set-in sleeves as well.  They, like the Lark Tee pattern don't require a lot of easing at the shoulder and in the armhole, mainly because they are both designed for knit fabrics.

But if you remain intimidated by the set-in sleeeve, why not try a tee pattern with a raglan or dolman style sleeve?  Jalie patterns have both of these styles and working the sleeve areas is pretty easy in both patterns.

Jalie's T-shirt Raglan (#3245) is a "baseball tee", especially if you use two different colors - one for the sleeves and neck binding, and another color for the body of the shirt.


We chose to make our tee using the same fabric for the entire shirt, mainly because we fell in love with this cotton and lycra celestial print. The sleeves are 3/4 length, perfect for a cooler summer evening. Raglan sleeves are attached to the bodice by sewing from the neck down through the bottom of the armhole in both the front and back.  After the bias binding is attached around the neckline, the sleeve seams are sewn together with the sides of the top, all in one piece.

Laurel's been playing with her machine's twin needle, so the the stitching around the neckline is very professional looking.  She used the same technique to hem both the sleeves and the bottom. Don't you just love this heavenly cotton/lycra knit? We still have some if you are interested or take a look at the other print options up on our Stonemountain & Daughter website.

One of our newer patterns from Closet Case Patterns is the Ebony T-Shirt pattern, which also features a raglan sleeve.  This top can be super easy to make, depending on the knit you choose - cotton knits would be a snap.

Wearing my Ebony tee in a reversible rayon knit with Heather Lou, the designer and owner of Closet Case Patterns! We just got more in of this reversible rayon knit with the dots and stripes - it's the perfect top!
Laurel and both loved this adorable rayon knit in a cactus pattern - I made a Briar Tee from Megan Nielsen and Laurel chose the Ebony.

Raglan sleeves are not difficult in the slippery knit, but we chose to beef up the sleeve hemline with a Design Plus Stay Tape. Lighter knits tend to roll at the edges and the stay tape make it easier to hem this really stretchy knit. (We also used this on the Briar sleeves and hemline - this stuff is magic!) This is a must have for your sewing tool kit!

After applying the tape, Laurel serged right over the top of it, but you don't have to - just hem!

Remarkably similar, these two tops.  Laurel's Ebony (raglan sleeve) is on the left and my Briar (set-in sleeve) is on the right.

The Dolman sleeve is even easier to whip up. as the sleeve is just part of the bodice - no seams at all. Jalie's Dolman Tops pattern (#3352) and be made with 3/4 length sleeves or simply short!

The short sleeve version of this top only requires one yard of 60" knit fabric, so it's a great stash buster and a very quick make. Since I'm on a roll with celestial themed knits, I chose this black and white cotton and lycra knit. What a breeze to make!

There's that even stitching again.  Love that twin needle. Hint: Use wooly nylon in the bobbin!
The Jalie Dolman Tee shirt pattern has a longer curved hemline in the back.

Laurel's raided her stash for this cotton knit from several years ago...nice Dolman!
And of course if you really want to challenge yourself, try a fancy set-in sleeve in a woven pattern.  Here's a little sneak peak at the Dove sleeve, from Megan Nielsen patterns.

We have dubbed this the "Summer of Love", so why not a silky rayon tie-dye print? We were inspired after attending the Hippie Modernism exhibit at BAMPFA her in Berkeley. Many of the photos and exhibits took us right back to the 60's, even though a couple of us were seeing reminders of this era for the first time.

What we loved most about this exhibit is the reminder of how important sisterhood is...sharing lives, dreams, and hopes for the future over lunch, laughing at some of the get-ups that the "flower children" wore, and just being together for an afternoon in sisterhood is what we all crave.

Let's all come together for our Sewing Summer of Love at Stonemountain - Join our challenge and community and share what you are creating. "Fabric really brings us together, and sewing gives us a chance to slow down, take a breath, and create something with our own two hands.  With social media, we now have the opportunity to connect with other sewists around the world.  We may not all be converging on Haight and Ashbury, but we can come together this summer to celebrate creativity, community, and of course, love!"

Peace, Sisters.

Wishing you health, joy and great fabric you can feel good sewing!

SuZan Steinberg
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
Downtown Berkeley California

Buy Local! Buy Berkeley!


  1. Although I have been making my clothes for decades, I loved the many ideas in this blog. Thanks for the reminder to use the light knit tape in the hems of knit tops!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and your support! We love to share ideas here! yes the knit tape is such a great tip!

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