I’ve spent the last few weeks slowly getting into gear and planning the next few months of blog posts. So many things to share! I think I could schedule posts until November if I wanted to. I’ve also been cleaning house here – literally – and donating/organizing and re-organizing our spaces.
I’ve been taking stock of things here on the blog as well and doing my best to make good on long-promised tutorials. Today I’ve written a tutorial on how to transition a summer short-sleeved dolman top pattern for spring/fall.
This tutorial will show you how to draft a longer sleeve addition for any dolman top. I LOVE 3/4 length sleeves in the spring and fall – and this tutorial works great for those and for adding length for long sleeves. I’ve seen sleeve additions like this showing up in ready-to-wear dolman sleeve clothing a lot as well. It’s great alternative to cutting long sleeves directly with the bodice of a dolman top, since you can save fabric by cutting the longer sleeve piece separately.
I wear the first Seafarer Top I made with longer sleeves (above) all the time. It is my most-worn handmade top by a long shot. I think the reason is it’s versatile colour (gray!) and also that the fabric is really easy to wash and wear. The silver and cream striped top I made for this post (below) is not likely to get the same treatment. Unfortunately the fabric I purchased washed up scratchy and clingy – not sure it will last long in my closet. I did widen the neckline by cutting two front pieces (on purpose!) instead of a front and a back to make a super comfy larger neck opening. I’m excited to find some better quality fabric and repeat that in my next version.
You can use any dolman sleeve pattern as a base for drafting this sleeve addition. I have used the kid size dolman Skipper Top from Sew Much Ado because the pattern pieces are smaller and easier to photograph. (Find the women’s Seafarer here.) You can also easily draft and sew your own Dolman Sleeve Top using a well fitting tee.
Draft the Dolman Sleeve Length Addition Pattern Piece
- pattern weights (or heart shaped rocks!)
- any dolman sleeve pattern
This tutorial is written for pattern pieces with seam allowances included. The new sleeve addition will have added seam allowances as well, except where noted. Mark and fold back the seam allowance along the sleeve opening of your pattern. Note the seam allowance for your particular pattern and use this throughout this tutorial.
Step 1: Measure the wearer’s arm or an existing tee to find your desired sleeve length. Keep in mind that this method adds to the length of your pre-existing dolman sleeve. The lengthening starts AFTER the sleeve, not at the shoulder where a normal sleeve would start. Also, if your pattern calls for sleeve bands instead of hemming, make sure to shorten your desired additional length accordingly, leaving a seam allowance on end of sleeve where the band will be sewn.
Step 3: Decide how wide the end of the sleeve needs to be to fit around your arm. Divide this measurement by 2 and add your seam allowance. Draw this measurement as a line 90 degrees down. (A) to (B).
Step 5:Add the sleeve opening seam allowance.
- Unfold the seam allowance on your original pattern piece.
- Mark seam allowances at top and bottom as ((D) and (E)
- Mark the edges of your drafted sleeve addition as (F) and (G)
- Place the original pattern right side down on the new sleeve addition matching pints (D) and (F) and points (E) and (G).
- Trace the bottom seam allowance – from points E and G to the edge – and then trace the sleeve opening as line (H).
- Remove the pattern piece and connect line A to line H with a 90 degree corner.
Determining new sleeve band size (if applicable): Sleeve band width is the same as the hem band width. Measure double the final width of the new sleeve opening (A) to (B). Double this measurement to determine the final width. Remove about 1/4″ of this width to get the new width for the sleeve band. Since all knits stretch differently, this is only a guide. Use your judgement as to how tight you want the final sleeve band to be.
Example : Sleeve Opening = 9″ (includes seam allowance), remove 1″ (1/2″ seam allowance on each side) = 8″ final width. Remove 1/4 of 8 = 6″ width. Add the seam allowances back in 6+ 1″ (1/2″ seam allowance on each side) to get a 7″ final width.
How to Sew the Dolman Sleeve Length Addition
- sleeve length addition pattern piece, drafted above
- dolman tee pattern
- fabric (you may need extra to account for the longer sleeve)
- general sewing things
Step 1: Follow your pattern to the step where both shoulders are sewn together.
Step 4:Finish your tee as indicated in your pattern.