Fitted sleeve head

Designing a fitted sleeve head – sectioning the sleeve head

This section describes how to design a symmetrical sleeve head. Only half the sleeve head needs to be drawn as it can then be reversed to form the complete sleeve head. This is the shape EWJ, which is enlarged in the section below.

When planning the shape of the sleeve head it is useful to use A4 graph paper with the scale 5 squares to 1cm and a flexi-curve used to draw geometrical shapes. If that is not available you can use a non-stretchy thread or string to bend round and form a smooth curve.

When you come to calculate the number of rows and stitches and draw them out using graph paper, you will need to use a different scale. This graph paper should be proportionate to the results achieved by your tension swatch.

Alternatively you can calculate the rows and stitches directly from your measurements using the line sum or magic formula.

Useful tips
Here are some useful tips to help you plan the top of the sleeve head.

Diagram at top of page - The curved edge of the sleeve head JEJ must equal the length of the armhole BLELB; on the diagram at the top of the page half the sleeve head/armhole are shown i.e. BLE and EJ.

The perpendicular height EW is likely to be at least 2/3rds of JW, half the sleeve width at the widest point underarm, JWJ .

Diagram of section
The curve of the sleeve head is divided approximately into quarters, see diagram above:

  • the bottom quarter has a concave curve with decreases at the underarm, similar to those on the underarms back and front
  • the middle two quarters with gradual decreases like those on a slightly bent raglan diagonal
  • the top quarter has a rounded curve
  • the top of the sleeve cap should be level and measure about 5cm for a child and 7 cm for an adult. If the sleeve cap is too narrow it will give a pinched look. If the length is more than 7 cm the sleeve cap loses its depth and becomes semi-fitted.

Drawing the sleeve head
You will be drawing half of the sleeve head which is symmetrical around its vertical axis. You can draw the actual size of the sleeve head on square graph paper. This enables you to calculate exact measurements - it does not represent the row count or number of stitches.

  • using the graph paper, draw a horizontal line at the bottom of the page and then the vertical axis against the left edge.
  • on the horizontal line WJ, measure the distance from the vertical axis and mark point J. This distance WJ equals half the widest part of the sleeve.
  • the vertical axis represents EW, the centre line of the sleeve head. The height of EW may vary slightly depending on the slope of your curve.
  • measure half the armhole BLE including any ease.
  • using the flexi-curve or the thread mark off this length BLE which equals EJ, half the sleeve head perimeter.
  • the top of the curve at E must create a horizontal line of about 3.5 cm (half the top of the sleeve head). Now start at J and using your measured length, create a curve to fit which cuts the perpendicular axis EW and mark point E.
  • adjust the curve until you achieve a suitable convex curve at the sleeve head, a raglan diagonal and the concave curve at the bottom.
  • draw in the curve using a soft pencil.
  • you may need to adjust the curve until you are satisfied, but maintain the flat top, the height of about 2/3rds and the overall shape of the curve. See section on design choices which shows how to vary the shape of the sleeve head.

Calculating rows and stitches
From your tension swatch you will know the number of rows and stitches per centimetre so you can calculate the best fit for the curve you have drawn. Convert cms into rows and decide how many stitches to allocate to the sleeve head.

  • a concave curve at the underarm requires stitches to be cast off from most to least
  • a convex curves at the sleeve head requires stitches to be cast off from least to most
  • you can use the line sum or magic formula to work out decreases evenly on diagonals (raglan)