• No Products in the Cart

Pattern Correction: Raglan Sleeves

Raglan sleeves are not as tricky as set- in sleeves by they are tricky. They’re tricky because they’re one of those silhouettes that will never have a ‘perfect’ fit. Just like dolman sleeves, draglines will always be present, even if it’s slight. It’s the nature of the silhouette. Just accept it.

That doesn’t mean that raglan sleeves can’t have a ‘good’ fit. The most common fit issue with raglan sleeves is that there is too much fabric at the front arm. On most women, the chest dips slightly halfway between the neck and armhole and a slight curve must be built into the pattern in order for the fabric to lay smoothly. The pattern correction is simple. Since everyone’s body is different, I highly suggest sewing a fit sample and pinning out excess to determine how and where to eliminate. Depending on your body’s shape, you may have to eliminate higher or lower or more or less than the “recommended” amount (according to textbooks). Regardless of your body’s shape though, both the front and front sleeve need to be SCOOPED at the front sleeve seam. As shown on sketch, blend to 0” at neck and undersleeve. Simple.


  1. Reply


    Okay, I think I can understand this! I love a good diagram.
    Come to my house and fix all my fitting issues for me? Pretty please?? Lol 🙂
    I love your fitting posts!

  2. Reply

    Antoinette Perez

    More of a curve for wovens than knits? Thank you!

  3. Reply

    Jackie Saffert

    I’m glad you’re loving your new job! And I’m glad you’re able to enjoy patten making even more now that it’s more of a hobby than a career. Every time I visit your blog I’m reminded that I must get into sewing again! I was never an amazing seamstress by any means but I’m sure I could learn a lot by reading your blog and setting aside time for it!

  4. Reply


    Great post! I’m a HUGE fan of raglan sleeves and generally find that they fit my weird shoulders nicely. I’ve been brainstorming making my own pattern for a raglan-sleeved knit top, so this is great timing!

  5. Reply

    Susan Katz Giesler

    Simple yes, but *brilliant* — thanks so much! I have a hunch this is going to make me so much happier with the fit of raglans.

  6. Reply


    this is great, thank you! I have an additional question: I’m hoping to turn a short raglan sleeve into a long raglan sleeve and I’m wondering how that might affect th fit at the under armhole. To give you an idea, the pattern is this one: http://www.burdafashion.com/fr/Magazines/Archives_des_magazines/110_Robe_Schema_du_modele/1270777-1463237-1711888-1711893-1711969-1711971.html;jsessionid=FD941740909DA3628BC15C3CB6B38E99
    (sorry for the lenghty url)…Thanks in advance for your input!

    • Reply


      Thanks so much for your question! I took a peek at the pattern you were referring to and here’s what I think…

      The current pattern has no under sleeve seam and a shaped sleeve opening (like a cap sleeve but on a raglan). All you need to do is extend the undersleeve as shown to create a long sleeve. I don’t think this will affect the fit at the underarm. The only thing I can think of is this… if the underarm “wedges” out when you make this change, reduce the chest to correct (BE SURE TO INCREASE UNDERSLEEVE SEAM LENGTH @ ARMHOLE WHEN MAKING THIS CORRECTION). Does this make sense?

      • Reply


        Hi Maddie
        thank you so much for your reply! Yes it totally makes sense, and thank you for the little diagram…I’ll be making a quick muslin anyway, and from your description it doesn’t sound like adjustments would be too hard to make…Thank you again!!

  7. Reply


    Thanks for posting this, I do love a good raglan sleeve myself, and I should be self drafting more patterns, this is great inspiration!

  8. Reply


    Great tip. I really need to be writing all of these down. Until then, thanks for making it easy to find them all though…

  9. Reply


    Great advice. I always have issues with raglan sleeves fitting me — they always look too baggy and I never have any idea how to take out the excess.

  10. Reply


    Oh, I’ve been having fun looking over all your fun posts I’ve missed! Raglan sleeves are so comfy, aren’t they?

  11. Reply

    julie Wilkins

    I am so glad to find your site. I too am a huge raglan sleeve fan. I love the way a shirt or any top looks on me with raglan sleeves. My question is this: I have a pattern I want to use often. I used it just as is, and made up a blouse out of cotton and the back, not the front of the raglan sleeve, is the issue. I have excess material on the back of the shoulder. The front came out fine. I was thinking of what you have recommended, when I saw how the blouse came out, but wasn’t at all sure what would happen if I cut out some of the material from the back seam of the sleeve. How can I fix this problem?

    • Reply


      Julie – I’m so glad that you found my site and I hope you continue to come back.

      If I understand you correctly, your back neck is gaping? Depending on where the excess fullness is will determine how you fix it. Can you pinch/pin out the excess evenly at the raglan seam at back neck? If so, I would eliminate the back armhole and sleeve at neck by that amount. If you can pinch/pin out the excess only on the back neck, then I would eliminate from the back armhole ONLY by that amount. Does that make sense?

  12. Reply

    julie Wilkins

    Hi Maddie, thank you so much for answering so quickly. (the raglan problem), yes there is excess material at the shoulder blade area, in the seam of the sleeve where it connects to the back piece. The neck area is just fine, but it bunches up further down, and gives the appearance of being pulled down toward the lower arm hole. It looks very unbecoming. The front however is fine. I don’t know if the actual problem is an improper fit across the top of the shoulder (no dart there) as in some other raglan patterns I’ve seen. Would adding a dart there eliminate the pulled down and bunched up effect? Or should I just trim down some of the back of the sleeve seam. Also, if I do trim, should I also trim blouse back piece? Sorry, if I am not making this clear, it’s very hard to describe without a picture to look at. Thank you so much for your great website, and for you patience. Love your little tree house picture by the way, I used to actually live in one for 2 years. Winters were very interesting when the winds came up!!

  13. Reply


    Hi Maddie…enjoy your website…I would love your opinion, advice….I bought a neon green raincoat in Paris in the 80’s…would love to wear it again but it has those really big raglan sleeves with the deep long armhole and rounded top for those football size shoulder pads. Is there a way to alter a raglan to be more current without throwing the whole balance or fit off? It’s mostly in the underarm…would like to reduce the length but not sure what will happen to the rest of the coat….any feedback would be appreciated….
    thank you.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Devinder – I kind of get what you’re saying but kind of don’t. Can you send me a picture of the coat you are interested in up cycling? I think it is better if I see the actual garment before I give any direction.

    • Reply


      thanks for your response Maddie, sometimes I don’t quite understand myself either. Attached is a pic of the armhole. In the 80’s the shoulder pads were really big and to accomodate the extra padding the shoulder was raised a bit and has an slightly exaggerated curve, which now that I have removed the shoulder pad, at the shoulder curve there is this excess fabric that needs to be shaved off…

      Then there is the length of raglan from the neck to the underarm that is really long…the armhole ends about two inches above my waistline.

      What I would like to do is reduce the volume (hope this is the right word) of the raglan sleeve. I would like to shorten the length from the neck to underarm and shave the top of the raglan around the shoulder so that its a closer fit to the body. Also attached a very rough sketch of the idea of what I would like to do.

      Raglans are such a funny fit and I am not sure if trying to “up cycle”, like that, will just make a mess of everything…

      Thank you again for taking the time to direct me through this…much appreciation.

      • Reply

        Maddie Flanigan

        Aha! Now I get the picture.
        Although there is a “correct” way to alter the jacket, it would take you a lot of time and hassle (removing the sleeve, etc). I think your best route is to proceed with the alterations as sketched. It’s simple and quick but most of all, will work!

        • Reply


          ok, great…I’ll give it a try….appreciate your feedback.

  14. Reply


    here’s the photo of actual armhole…having some difficulty in sending photos…

  15. Reply


    Hi, i would like to know if it’s possible to convert a coat with raglan sleeves into a normal set-in sleeves. Thanks a lot

    • Reply


      If you are talking about a coat pattern (a sewing pattern), it is possible. But for an existing coat, it would be very difficult. You would have to fill in the top of the shoulders (where the raglan sleeves used to join the neckline) with extra fabric. I guess you could replace the whole armpit to shoulder area with a yoke in another fabric. That might mean removing and reattaching the collar. Also, you’d have to be sure that the sleeves could be recut into a set-in sleeve once removed. And is the coat lined? It would probably be easier to find a set-in sleeve coat pattern that you like and sew one from scratch.

Leave a Reply