Crazy Polka Dots Dress – Behind the Seams 1 Pattern Drafting (image heavy)

Crazy Polka Dots Dress Behind the Seams Sleeve Pattern DraftingAhoy-hoy peeps. Let’s do this Behind the Seams post shall we? I just know that if I don’t record my pattern drafting adventures I will never remember them and probably repeat lots of mistakes.

So, this is what I did to start with a sleeve block and ended up with the self lined cap sleeve I used on my Crazy Polka Dots Dress.

Crazy Polka Dots Dress - Title - Make It NiftyI know some of you just like to see the pretty dresses, so feel free to skip this post. 🙂


When I first started thinking about making this dress I knew that I wanted to change the sleeve up, I wanted a little cap sleeve. I considered making a sleeveless dress, but I’m self conscious about my upper arms (not that it’s stopped me wearing sleeveless things), so I prefer a sleeve. I also thought it would be a way to balance my pear shape.

When drafting these sleeves I also had to keep in mind that I didn’t have much fabric to work with for the sleeves. I had cut out the rest of the dress already, as one does, and didn’t have a great deal of fabric left over for the sleeves and sleeve hem facings.


I started with my Self Drafted Bridesmaid Dress pattern as I liked the fitted bodice and a-line skirt. This was also handy because I could use the toile I made for that dress to play around with the new sleeves I drafted.

The two things I wanted to play around with were the sleeve hem and the sleeve cap dart in my sleeve block.

To draft the new sleeve pattern I started by tracing the top of my sleeve block to just below the bicep line. For the first sleeve I drew a new curved hem free hand and decided that I would do an inverted box pleat in place of the sleeve cap dart.

CPDD Sleeve Draft 1 It really annoys me that I have to make a dart in my one piece sleeve block to ease in the fullness of the sleeve cap created by my large biceps (I’m going to say it’s all muscle :P). I thought I may as well try drafting and toiling 2 sleeves at the same time. So I made a copy of the first sleeve; folded out the sleeve cap dart by pivoting at the tip of the dart; and smoothed the hemline.

CPDD Sleeve Draft 2These sleeves need to have a faced hem because of the hem curve so I ended up just making them entirely self lined.

Of course, I forgot to take photos of these completed sleeves once they were sewn into the toile. I didn’t like the pleating on the sleeve cap of the first sleeve and I didn’t like the hemlines on either the first or second sleeve. I didn’t like the ‘line’ they created on my body. They were too short.

So, for the third sleeve pattern I straightened out the sleeve hem, adding some length to the centre of the sleeve and added a little length at the sleeve under arm and brought the hem end of the under arm seam in a little bit. (you can just make out the note on the left hand side that I brought the seam line by 0.5cm)

CPDD Sleeve Draft 3While I was playing around with the third sleeve I realised that if the sleeve hem was straight then it would be possible to cut the sleeve and facing as one by cutting the sleeve with the hem on the fold. So I just placed the second sleeve I drafted on the fold to see what would happen.

CPDD Sleeve Draft 4Here are pictures of the third and fourth sleeves on the bodice toile. The third sleeve is to the right and the fourth sleeve is to the left.

CPDD Sleeve Toile-FrontHere is the back – third sleeve is to the left and the fourth sleeve is to the right.

CPDD Sleeve Toile-BackHere is the third sleeve side on

CPDD Sleeve Toile-Sleeve 3And the fourth sleeve side on

CPDD Sleeve Toile-Sleeve 4

FYI the blue string you see in the pictures is some yarn I threaded through the pull on the zip so I didn’t have to do zip-myself-up acrobatics every time I popped the toile on and off.

Final Comment

So there it is, my adventures in sleeve drafting and toiling. It took a fair bit of time, but it was good practice for me and it was especially good practice my sleeve setting skills. You know how much I had setting sleeves. My favourite part was seeing how the changes I made to the pattern translated to the cloth and then how the cloth behaved on the body.

So, to those who braved it to the end of this post, what do you think?
Did you find this post interesting?
Do you try pattern drafting beyond fitting adjustments?
Do you prefer sleeves, sleeveless or have no preference?
So many questions! Leave me some answers in the comments 🙂

Until next time,