You are currently viewing RAGLAN SLEEVES FOR SUMMER

So a little background on this new pattern of mine M7574. I wanted an easy knit raglan sleeves pattern for spring/summer 2017. I was inspired by these easy fitting knit dresses and casual tops which I put together in a design board for McCalls. I really wanted the three length versions, especially the crop, I know a lot of people will not gravitate to that one but just for those high waisted pants and skirts where you want to show off a waistband detail that would usually get hidden below your top, I think the crop length is perfect. For fabrics, I love the ease of micro stripes or bold patchwork stripes like the rayon/spandex one we found from Joann’s fabric that the dress version is made from in the McCall’s catalog.

I also want to give you some fitting tips for raglan sleeves so keep reading below!

McCalls Pattern #M7574 mood boardMcCalls Pattern #M7574 views

To add subtle stylization to this pattern I drafted the sleeve pattern from a classic set in sleeve from one of my other knit patterns. I used raglan drafting instructions from an old pattern making book of my mothers. I wanted a unique seam shape that was slightly more square than the traditional raglan. It’s a little more difficult easing the sharper angles from the front bodice into the sleeve armhole but I think the look is more unique. I had a lot of fun making the dress as well with a side slit and a slight high low shirt tail hem that is really flattering on anyone!


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I would absolutely suggest to tissue fit the raglan sleeve because no one will have the same shaped arm. You may need to add for full arms or take in. You should really check for square or sloping shoulders as well. The overarm seam in the raglan makes this really easy! 

See below how to prepare your sleeve for raglan tissue fitting:

Prepare the tissue

Mark your 5/8” stitching lines on the shoulder, side seam, armhole, (if it’s a high neck mark those as well). Tape around the armhole curves, note that you will have to tape around the raglan armhole seams on the bodice and sleeve because in order to try the bodice on you have to attach the sleeve. Tape on the inside of the stitching line, use little pieces and overlap them to ensure you don’t tear the tissue. Tape all the way through the stitching line at the underarm seams. Finally clip the seam allowance in the curvy area’s of the armhole. Clip to the tape, but not through it. Pin the tissue wrong sides together with the seam allowances facing out for tissue fitting.


 Try on the tissue and check width

For knit fabrics, you should be able to pinch at least a 1/2” of tissue at the full upper arm area for 1” ease depending on your personal preference.

If you can’t get the sleeve on, unpin the overarm seam and measure stitching line to stitching line how much to add in that area. You will most likely need more width in the upper arm than the forearm. Remember to add enough width to match your arm measurement, plus 1-2” for ease. The Fit For Real People book has many solutions for people with really full upper arms.


Full Arms

Adding or reducing width in a raglan with an over-arm seam is simply done by adding or reducing tissue in the over arm-seam. If you have fuller arms in the underarm area you can add to the underarm seam.

Thin Arms

For a narrower sleeve, pin the sleeve in narrower in the overarm seam and underarm seam from nothing at the armhole stitching line.

Forward Shoulder

If your clothes fall back off your shoulders you probably have forward shoulders. The shoulder at the shoulder seam will also not be in the middle of your arm.

This alteration has no lines printed on the pattern. Put a mark on the tissue where the middle of your arm is at the tip of your shoulder, simply pivot the back shoulder point of the over-arm raglan seam forward. This is usually no more than 1/2” forward. Start from zero at the neck edge and gradually redraw your stitching lines in the shoulder area. You will end up adding tissue to the back shoulder and trimming off tissue on the front. Stop the adjustment before the elbow area, if you shift the entire seam forward the seam may end up in a weird spot on your forearm.


For more help on fitting and sewing knits I have just the class for you – Palmer/Pletsch Fit and Sew Fashion Knits 4-Day workshop in Michigan with expert instructor Janet Dapson June 9-12 2017. Click the link for more information! We also have room in the one in Portland May 19th-22nd with Pati Palmer and Helen Bartley.

Hope to see you all trying out a raglan Tee’s this Spring and Summer! Thanks for reading!


M7445 McCalls Pattern Melissa Watson


This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Kymm Kent

    I like it. I like Melissa’s version of this it makes the style more appealing in my opinion. I’m anxious to try it.

    1. Melissa Watson

      Thanks Kymm! Are you talking about the velveteen version!? I will be posting that one soon 🙂

  2. Maggie Deegan

    excellent pattern, I’ve made it for dressy and sportswear. Using a striped fabric for the arms. Gives. A nice Chevron detail at the shoulder.

  3. Joan

    Hey Melissa,

    I like the squared design of your raglan, and plan to give it a try soon. Generally, a raglan is less flattering for me, as I think it makes me look more droopy-shouldered than with a regular set-in sleeve. My hope is this squared raglan is more flattering than the slanted style.

    1. Melissa Watson

      Hi Joan! Thanks for your input, I do agree that if you have more sloping shoulders the slanted raglan can be a bit droopy looking, I think this more square shaped is a little more flattering! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

    2. Melissa Watson

      Yes! I think the squared seams will help with an illusion of square shoulders! Just make sure to fit the sleeve for your arms too!

  4. Nancy

    Love, love, love the dress! I have never put “squared”raglan sleeves in before and these are the much more difficult than I imagined. I did a practice piece with heavier fabric and it worked ok, but I’m using the knit fabric that the dress is in on the pattern front and so far I’m ready to put it down and move on. Any advise on getting these sleeves in with unruly knits?

    1. Pati Palmer

      It is hard in some knits. You are also sewing inward and outward curves together. Usually, it helps if you machine baste near the stitching line on the inward curve and then pin both ends and the middle right sides together. The edge of the seam allowance in the inside curve is shorter than the edge of the outward curve, yet the seamlines are the same length. So, just clip the seam allowance to the stitching of the inward curve as you pin, allowing it to spread. Hope this helps.

  5. Sarah T

    I was wondering, when you have a darted raglan sleeve (or the equivalent of a dart in a seam line as in this design), where should the dart point sit as a general rule?

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