One of the elements of clothing from the Low Countries at the turn of the 16th century that I most like is the set-in sleeve. I love the look, but it can be the most tricky part of patterning a gown. Since many people struggle with patterning a sleeve I thought I’d gather together some patterning instructions and tutorials that I have come across.

First is the Medieval Tailor’s Assistant. It has a good set of instructions to draft a sleeve pattern if you are geometrically inclined (pgs 34-38). This has been my go to option for years, although I’ve found that I have a tendency to end up with a large sleeve head.

To combat this I have started to use a tip from Marion McNealey’s article on drafting a basic sleeve from Your Wardrobe Unlock’d. She cuts a piece of string to the length of the sleeve head and uses this to set the curve to the correct length.

Mathilde Girl Genius‘ paper “Farm Boy Fetch me that Pitcher” is a really good set of instructions. Most of my students have preferred this one, although we usually need to re-fit the arm as this pattern creates a larger sleeve than

Isabella d’Angelo has a sleeve patterning tutorial which looks straightforward with plenty of photos to guide you through. I’ve not tested her instructions but certainly I’d give it a try in future.

Finally, Jean Hunisett’s Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Medieval -1500 has patterns for a variety of sleeves. In particular she has a draped sleeve which works perfectly for the draped bell sleeves that we see on Flemish and Netherlandish gowns from this period. If you want to do this style well, then I recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book and having a good look at the pattern on pages 116-117.

Ultimately you should choose the method that suits you best, or a collection of a few of them to give the best results.