You know that feeling, when the sleeves don’t fit you properly – they bunch up, they restrict movement up, down, forward and backwards. You lift your arm up and your dress rides high.
Unfortunately if you buy an article of clothing with bad fitting sleeves, it’s almost impossible to alter to correct fit. Because, believe it or not, the answer to correct the fit usually lies with making the arm hole smaller!
So, just a word of warning here. Make sure you’re happy with your sleeves. Give them a good workout when you’re trying the garment on.
Did you know there are at least 45 (45!!!!) types of sleeves. (Check out some of them in the list down the page.)
But for today, I’m going to concentrate on the two most common sleeves – the Raglan and Set-in. Do you know why there is a difference?
A raglan sleeve is a sleeve that extends in one piece fully to the collar, leaving a diagonal seam from underarm to collarbone. One of its benefits is that it creates a wider underarm area, allowing additional space when wearing bulky sweaters or other under-layers.
It is believed to be named after Lord Raglan, the 1st Baron Raglan, who is said to have worn a coat with this style of sleeve after the loss of his arm in the Battle of Waterloo.
I'm a big fan of raglan sleeves in soft fabrications that collapse back onto the contour of the shoulder line because they are flattering on a variety of body types. A lower neckline and tapered sleeves on a raglan sleeved top further soften a broad shoulder line.
A set-in sleeve is “set into” the armhole of a garment at or near the natural edge of the shoulder.
It is used most often used in suits, coats, dresses and shirts because of its professional, natural look. The set-in sleeve can either lie flat or be gathered to pucker and rise above the garment at the shoulder, giving a puff sleeve variation.
Whether the finished set-in sleeve seam lies flat or is extensively gathered, the top of
the sleeve is actually larger than the armhole opening and must be “eased” into place. This makes it easier to fit the garment over the arm, and helps with movement at the shoulder.