Sleeves come in a huge variety. They change size and shape depending on the styles of the time from slim fitted sleeves to lovely big poufy (can’t get them in a cardi, let alone do the washing up) statement sleeves. They really are something that can divide sewists and fashionistas alike. I could do a whole history session just on sleeves but that’s not why we’re here. It is worth however to take a look at the change of sleeves as history has evolved. A visit to the V&A or any fashion museum is always a day well spent. There are many fashion history books out there which log the development of different styles but for a quick insight, take a quick view on my Pintrest

Marking out

Whether set in, raglan, shirt or gathered, they all use the same markings. The notches that mark the shoulder point, the front and back of the sleeve. Trust me, if you only put minimal notch markings in, please make sure it’s the sleeve markings. This alone will save you from much pondering when deciding which sleeve to put in where. There will generally be one notch marking the front and two at the back. A circle will often mark the shoulder point at the seam line.

To give you freedom of movement at the right point, sleeves are handed right and left. If you’ve ever seen a sleeve in backwards you’ll know what I mean. It leans in the wrong direction or feels just a bit tight without the movement you’d expect. The fullness so many fear is there to give you a degree of movement. More or less depending on the type of sleeve.

Putting the sleeve in

Depending on the type of sleeve you’re working with, will depend on how you set it in. Some shirt sleeves will be put in flat, before stitching the side seems. Raglan sleeves go in attaching to the front and back to help create the neckline. I’m going to concentrate on setting in a sleeve as that’s what most people get a bit sketchy over. This is also how you might put a fuller sleeve in. Don’t fear the sleeve. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be away. Grab yourself a cuppa and watch how I place the sleeve and then have a go yourself.