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Raglan pattern


This makes the bit from your underarms to your neck, and the sleeves.

You will need

What to do

Plot the raglan curves

  1. Taking your body piece, measure along the underarm line, in from the centre front (red) by the chest half width (blue) and flat half width (green). Mark those with ticks, and draw a perpendicular to the underarm line from the flat half width for a few inches. Plot the same for the centre back.

  2. Extend the centre front and centre back lines up from the underarm line, by half the (scaled) over-shoulder length, and draw the 'mid neck' line (pale blue) between the centre front and centre back lines' new ends, right across the diagram. The 'mid neck' line should be exactly at a right angle to both centre front and centre back lines.

  3. Now measure backwards along the centre front line for half a neck radius (yellow). This point is the centre of your neckline circle. Use the compasses to draw about a quarter of a circle, the neck radius in size, from the centre front line to just past the 'mid neck' perpendicular. Do the same with the centre back, but measure onwards for half a neck radius.

  4. Draw a line from the centre of the circles to their corresponding 'half chest width' mark (blue). Where this crosses the half flat width line (green), we'll call 'the apex'. Draw a line (green) from the apex to the centre of the underarm line (where the 'side line' (blue and white) meets it). The two lines from circle to apex (blue) to underarm line (green) are the raglan 'curve'.

  5. Draw a line (red) from where the blue line crosses the circle to the centre of the underarm line, and call it 'the base'. This makes a shallow triangle with the raglan curve.

  6. For each raglan curve, reflect it in its 'base': copy the three points defining a raglan curve onto a spare piece of tissue paper, carefully labelling the neckline and the centre front points; turn it over, then align the neckline and centre front points up with the main sheet. Copy the reflected apex to the main sheet and join the dots.
    • There are more geometric ways to do this reflection than copying dots, as you can see in the photo - measuring angles from both ends, plotting the base's perpendicular, etc - use whatever works for you.

  7. Go over the raglan curves with a marker/felt pen to make them clearer than the pencil you've been using, and write 'back' and 'front' near the corresponding raglan curves on both sides of the base.
  8. Mark the corners (apex) of all the raglan curves with ticks - two ticks for the back curves, one for the front curves. (Marked 'T' in the diagrams.) You will cut notches into the seam allowance to help match these up while sewing.
    • You may also want to mark single ticks an inch down from the neckline on all raglan curves to make alignment and assembly even easier.
  9. Cut along the base (red) to separate the body part (yellow, below the circles) from the shoulder parts (A - green, B - blue, between the circles), and then cut upwards along the side line (blue and white) to separate the shoulder parts ready for the next stage.

  10. Mark a slash down the 'side line' (blue and white) from where the raglan curves meet into the body; it should only be a couple of inches long (or at least twice the width of your elastic).
  11. Add 5mm seam allowance to all of the raglan edges as shown.

If the above boggles you, this animation of the steps may help.

Plot the sleeve and arrange its shoulder

  1. Plot the sleeve measurements in the same way as you plotted the leg measurements, leaving (or taping) a few inches of extra paper above the shoulder line.
  2. The shoulder is assembled from the two raglan shoulder pieces (A and B in the diagram above) and the shoulder region of the sleeve.
  3. Tape the two raglan shoulder pieces together so the sections of neckline circle match and so the 'mid neck' perpendiculars (pale blue, in the photo) are on top of each other.
  4. Parallel to this 'mid neck' perpendicular, draw a line (yellow) which cuts the shoulder-shoulder length (pink circles) in half and goes through the neckline circle's centre point. Cut the shoulder pieces along this new line.
    • Note that the final two pictures on this page are a little bit wrong, sorry: the pictures show using the pieces in their unevened state, when they should have been cut along the yellow line. Evening the parts makes drawing the curve easier, and I think improves the fit. I'll take a new photo next time I'm doing this.
  5. Calculate the difference in length between the (scaled) raised arm and dropped arm measurements, call this D (blue arrow). Plot a line parallel to the sleeve's shoulder line, but a distance of D further away from the wrist (blue arrow's shaft).
  6. Place the shoulder pieces so that their raglan corners match the sleeve shoulder corners (red circles), and their right-angle corners rest on the parallel you just plotted. Tape them in place. They may overlap, or there may be a small gap between them, depending on your measurements and scaling. (This triangular area you just opened allows for your arm to drop to your side.)
  7. Overlay the shoulder region with another piece of tissue, tape it in place to the sleeve piece, and trace the raglans, the neckline curves, and the shaft of the blue arrow onto that. Remove the original shoulder construction and leave just the new tracing.
  8. Add curves that are identical to either side of the dart (the triangular gap area between the neckline ends and the blue arrow point). I use the dressmaker's curve for this.
    • If you don't have a dressmaker's curve, do this: fold the dart in half along the blue arrow shaft, so the neck points are on top of each other, and sketch a curve like the one in the diagram onto both layers. The curve should be almost straight for its first half, starting perpendicular to the neckline end; once it's half way to the blue arrow, it should smoothly blend to end parallel to the blue arrow's shaft.
  9. Add 5mm seam allowance to the raglan shoulder pieces.


In case you're curious, my reasoning about the raglan curve is this: the raglan curve should look like a straight line from neckline to armpit to someone looking at you from the front or from the back. Between the neckline and the apex, your body's flat enough just to use the straight line that the viewer would normally see (i.e. the line from the neckline to the flat width). Between the apex and your armpit, the line needs to be steeper to take account of the curvature of your body (i.e. from where your body starts curving, to the curved width). It should be a smooth curve, but... eh, lycra stretches and the apex is shallow enough.

Clever folks will point out that using the chest curvature at the front to plot the rear raglan curves is wrong. To them I say: Well, if your elbows can bend that way, and you have eyes in the back of your head to see what's going on, then good luck to you and can I have a ride in your UFO next time you're visiting the planet?


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