Unless you stitch your own garments, you may not have given much thought to where your sleeve meets your shirts and hoodies. However, this minor stylistic distinction between styles of sleeves has a significant impact on the formality of a shirt and can also give more or less movement! So, what exactly are Raglan sleeves and when should they be worn?
From the collar to the armpit, raglan sleeves are attached to the body of a shirt in a diagonal line. This sleeve’s distinctive design allows for more movement than conventional sleeve styles. Raglan-style sleeves are commonly found on tees with long or short sleeves, hoodies, pullovers, and Henleys.
In this post, you’ll learn what a Raglan sleeve is and how to make one. The key differences between a Raglan-style sleeve and other types of sleeves will be revealed. Finally, you’ll discover how simple it is to create your own Raglan sleeve.
What Are Raglan Sleeves?
Raglan sleeves have no seam at the shoulder and attach to a garment in a diagonal line from the armpit seam to the collar. Raglan and set-in sleeves are the two most common types of sleeve attachment used in shirts and other garments. To join a sleeve to a shirt, traditional set-ins use a seam from the armpit to the shoulder.
The raglan sleeve is commonly seen on t-shirts, long-sleeved tees, henleys, and sweatshirts, but it can also be found on other garments. This style of sleeve can be found in three-quarter length and short sleeves for tees, as well as full-length sleeves for sweatshirts and cardigans.
Raglan sleeves on casual shirts are frequently a different color than the shirt’s body. Color blocking is the term for this method. For example, you may wear a white shirt with red raglan sleeves to highlight the sleeve’s unusual shape.
However, a raglan sleeve is not defined by its contrasting hue. A raglan sleeve or a set-in sleeve is determined by the shape of the sleeve!
A widespread misunderstanding is that raglan shirts are constructed of “raglan” cloth. Although many raglan-sleeved shirts use a specific type of cotton jersey knit, there is no such thing as “raglan fabric.” Raglan shirts, on the other hand, always have a sleeve with a diagonal seam.
Raglan sleeves are named after Lord Raglan, a famous British general who lost his arm in a combat wound in the 1800s. Following his amputation, he desired a more comfortable uniform. To do this, he created the raglan sleeve, which has a more flexible shape that allows for more sword combat agility.
When baseball teams started wearing it on their uniforms, it became fashionable. As a result, raglan-sleeved shirts known as “baseball tees” are occasionally seen.
Advantages of Raglan Sleeves
The biggest advantage of a raglan sleeve is that it provides more room in the underarm, thus allowing an easier and broader range of movement. Lots of athletic wear, including sports uniforms, use raglan sleeves for this reason.
The diagonal seam from the underarm to the collarbone adds some extra fabric to the armpit area of the sleeve. This allows you to reach up, down, and side to side without yanking on the sleeve’s fabric. You can readily see how this additional space aids a baseball pitcher!
Because it feels so comfortable and roomy, many casual items, such as t-shirts and henleys, employ this type of sleeve.
Of course, a traditional set-in sleeve is quite acceptable. Both techniques have benefits and drawbacks, as you’ll see later in this post! A raglan sleeve, on the other hand, feels less restrictive than a set-in sleeve.
Another small benefit of raglan sleeves is that you don’t have to worry about the shoulder seam fitting perfectly. There is no shoulder seam in this looser style!
With a button-down shirt, this is usually one of those things you have to iron out because a shoulder seam that falls past the edge of your shoulder looks too big, and a shoulder seam that rests on your collarbone looks too little. The benefit of raglan sleeves is that they eliminate this problem entirely.
Finally, a sweater, hoodie, or jacket with a spacious raglan sleeve allows for more layering below.
What is a Raglan Sleeve T-Shirt?
A typical raglan sleeve t-shirt features three-quarter-length sleeves that are a different color than the body of the shirt and are attached to the shirt by a diagonal seam from the armpit to the collar. Cotton jersey knit or a soft tri-blend comprising cotton, polyester, and another material such as rayon are commonly used for this type of shirt.
Raglan sleeves, on the other hand, have become so popular that you can now get them on normal tees as well. Anyone who works with t-shirts these days offers a raglan sleeve option, from sports uniform suppliers to small-business t-shirt manufacturers!
What is Raglan Material?
Although there is no such thing as raglan fabric, most raglan-sleeved shirts are constructed of a type of fabric known as jersey knit. This sort of fabric is made up of interlocking thread loops that give it a flexible and stretchy feel. Knits have a lot of stretch, so they’re ideal for a shirt that needs to move around a lot!
Jersey knit is made out of polyester, cotton, or a combination of the two. This fabric has stretch and flexibility thanks to the knitted loops of yarn. Jersey knits come in a variety of weights, ranging from 5 oz to 12 oz for garments. The thickness or thinness of the substance between your fingers is determined by this.
However, there are several raglan-sleeved clothing available that are made of different materials. Waterproof jackets, for example, are usually made of a specific waterproof cloth with raglan sleeves to allow relief workers, firefighters, and others to move around while wearing a cumbersome coat.
Raglan Sleeve Measurement
Measuring from the underarm seam to the cuff is the ideal technique to take raglan sleeve measurements. This measurement is used to knit raglan-sleeved garments or to cut out a sewing pattern with raglan sleeves.
Measuring from the collar seam down the top of the arm to the cuff is another typical way for determining sleeve length, but it is not used as frequently.
Shirts with set-in sleeves are usually measured from the shoulder seam to the cuff, but raglan sleeves don’t have one! As a result, before purchasing a long-sleeve raglan shirt or hoodie for yourself, make sure you read the sizing charts and measurement recommendations. You can be confident that the sleeve length will fit your arms this way!
Types of Raglan Sleeves
While the defining feature of a raglan sleeve stays constant, there are a few current variants!
- A typical diagonal line runs from the underarm to the collar on a straight seam raglan sleeve. This shirt typically has a crew neck or a round neckline.
- A zero raglan sleeve is similar, but the diagonal seam does not go all the way to the collar in this form, instead meeting where the neckline and shoulder meet.
- A raglan yoke shirt is distinguished by the fact that it spreads in one broad section over the front of the garment, known as a yoke! This style is usually seen in women’s clothing. This sort of sleeve has a diagonal line that runs from the underarm to the top of the front and back of the shirt, connecting the sleeves to the top of the front and back of the shirt.
- A semi-raglan sleeve is defined by a diagonal seam that begins at the underarm and ends midway inside the shoulder, rather than at the collar. It resembles a set-in seam and can draw attention to strong, muscular shoulders.
- The raglan gathered sleeve, which includes gathered material in the diagonal seam to create a voluminous, flouncy, or ruffled sleeve, is another popular alternative for women’s clothing.
How to Sew a Raglan Sleeve
One of the best features of a raglan sleeve is how easy it is to sew! Traditional set-in sleeves might take a lot of measurement, mock-ups, and fitting to get the circular arm seam to fit your body perfectly. Raglan sleeves are easy to drape from the collar to the cuff, and they’re a lot easier to cut out and sew!
If you’re going to make a raglan tee or long-sleeved shirt out of knit fabric, you’ll want to use a serger or a sewing machine with a stretch stitch option. On knit textiles, regular straight stitching does not function very well.
Most raglan shirt patterns will just require you to cut out three or four pieces. You’ll need the front and back of the shirt, as well as one large piece for each sleeve, which will fold over to meet at an under seam.
- Begin by cutting out your shirt’s pattern components. To get you started, check out the following section for a free pattern! As you cut, make sure the grainline of the fabric is aligned with the selvage edge of the knit fabric, and use pattern weights or pins to keep the pattern in place.
- Most patterns include sewing instructions, but in most cases, the following step is to sew the sleeves to the front of the shirt. To do so, match the right sides of both pieces along the diagonal cut on the sleeve front and the shirt front that runs from the neck to the armpit. Sew or serge the seam shut after pinning it in place.
- Rep with the other sleeve, matching the right sides together as you sew the diagonal line that connects the sleeve to the front of the shirt.
- Unfold the sleeves and look for the diagonal cut on the sleeve’s back. Pin the back diagonal to the shirt back and sew or serge it in place.
- Reverse the process for the back of the opposite sleeve.
- You now have a garment that resembles a shirt. You’ll need to hem the sleeves next because you still have some unfinished edges.
- To do so, measure halfway up the sleeve’s hem and mark a point half an inch up. Fold the hem over and press it into place, then fix it with a topstitch to make it seem nice.
- The next step is to stitch the side seams. These seams will go from the shirt’s hem to the armpit, then down the inside of the sleeve to the cuff. Simply sew or serge this L-shaped hem all the way up!
- Hem the sleeve’s bottom. You can simply make the ideal hem on knits if you have a cover stitch machine. You may also make a crisp topstitched hem with a sewing machine and a stretch stitch.
- Because the knit fabric will not fray, you can leave a raw edge around the collar as the final step in finishing the shirt. You can either add a crew neck collar or simply fold under the edge of the neck hole and topstitch around the circle.
Raglan Sleeve Pattern [Free]
Take a look at these free raglan sleeve patterns! If this is your first time sewing a sleeve, you might want to practice with a free design before spending money at your local sewing shop or craft store.
- For women, this charming two-color pattern features a crewneck and straight-cut raglan sleeves.
- This interesting template allows you to make sleeves that fit your body perfectly! Because of the simple design of these sleeves, creating your own pattern is a breeze.
- With a pair of jeans, this simple short-sleeved men’s raglan tee will look great. You can also learn how to stitch the shirt on a standard sewing machine instead of using a serger.
- Are you looking for a long-sleeved raglan top pattern? You’re covered with this pattern!
Raglan Sleeve vs Set-In Sleeve: What is the Difference?
The way the sleeve joins to the body of the shirt is the fundamental distinction between a raglan and a set-in sleeve. A raglan sleeve is defined by a straight diagonal seam that runs from the armpit to the collar of the shirt, connecting it to the body in a straight line. A set-in sleeve, on the other hand, features a round sleeve that loops from the armpit to the top of the shoulder before looping back down to the armpit on the other side.
A set-in sleeve restricts arm movement more than a raglan sleeve. The slack fit of the raglan sleeve restricts freedom of motion more than the circular seam going across the shoulder.
In business casual or formal attire, however, fashion trends prefer to stick with a highly defined shoulder seam, which the set-in sleeve gives. In this sleeve style, the shoulder seam creates a crisp line that marks the end of the shoulder.
If you’re looking to buy shirts in bulk for printing or resale, you’ll probably discover that raglan sleeves are more expensive than set-in sleeves. This gap is due to the fact that raglan sleeves use a fraction more fabric for the looser underarm.
Raglan Sleeve vs Drop Sleeve
The fundamental difference between the raglan and the drop sleeve is the way the sleeves are attached to the shirt. A drop sleeve, like a set-in sleeve, features a round armhole seam, but the shoulder seam falls partway down the upper arm–hence the name “drop” sleeve!
Raglan and drop sleeves have a lot in common: they both provide a lot of extra room, have a relaxed vibe, and allow for a lot of movement. Raglan sleeves, on the other hand, have a seam running from the armpit to the collar, whereas drop sleeves have a shoulder seam that extends many inches beyond the actual shoulder.
Because drop sleeves and set-in sleeves both connect to the garment in the same way, the two sleeve terms are occasionally used interchangeably. A drop-sleeve, on the other hand, will always have the unique feature of the shoulder sea hanging over the shoulder. It’s the “baggy boyfriend’s sweater” look, if you will.
T-Shirt Sleeve vs Raglan Sleeve
Raglan sleeves are different from typical t-shirt or set-in sleeves in that they attach to the body of the shirt in a different way.
The following are some of the advantages of wearing a raglan sleeve t-shirt:
- Color blocking–using contrasting fabric colors–is a simple way to draw attention to the sleeve’s unusual shape.
- This style is more flexible and easier to move in thanks to the extra cloth in the looser underarm. Athletic apparel, casual wear, and sports uniforms all benefit from this style of sleeve.
- This style of sleeve can draw attention to powerful shoulders while also blurring the lines of a rounder shape, making it ideal for certain body types.
The following are some of the advantages of a typical set-in t-shirt sleeve:
- Because it utilizes somewhat less fabric and more manufacturers have the equipment to create these sleeves, this form of sleeve is less expensive.
- A typical t-shirt sleeve will create a sharp, distinct shoulder line for a more formal setting.
- A set-in sleeve sits closer to the body, making certain body types appear thinner than a raglan sleeve.
Raglan Sleeve Examples
Check out these popular products for a brief overview of raglan sleeve styles!
Hanes Women’s Cotton Raglan Sleeve
This warm tee has a broad neckline and three-quarter length sleeves and is available in six different colors. It’s made of a flexible jersey knit made of 95 percent cotton and 5% spandex. This roomy shirt has a lot of additional room to fit every body type thanks to the round neck and relaxed droop of the sleeves.
Hanes also includes a tagless collar for enhanced comfort. You can rely on this silky shirt to move with you all day long!
H2H Henley Raglan Sleeves Men
This fashionable henley includes a three-button neck opening and a total of forty-four color combinations to pick from! When you wear this comfy shirt, the round neckline and raglan sleeves will provide you more flexibility and movement. The fabric is made up of 60% cotton and 40% polyester for a soft and economical blend fabric.
This narrow-fit style will showcase broad shoulders or accentuate a slender torso, allowing you to look both casual and stylish!
Men’s Dri-Power Raglan Sleeve Hoodie
Are you looking for a warm, comfortable pullover hoodie with sleeves that allow you to move your arms freely? For a hot winter workout, this hoodie has 9 oz fleece for added warmth and Dri-Power moisture-wicking technology. The raglan sleeves are available in a variety of color combinations.
More warmth and amusing style touches are provided by a drawstring hood and a muff pocket. Plus, the raglan sleeves are roomy enough to go over any base layers!
Who Should Wear Raglan Sleeves?
Raglan sleeves are flattering for anyone who prefers a more relaxed look, but they can also assist to emphasize or conceal specific body types.
If you want to offer a more slender form, raglan sleeves, for example, can assist de-emphasize large shoulders. The looser sleeve will not tightly outline the curve of the shoulder and arm, so they will look excellent on anyone with a curvier body type.
Raglan sleeves, on the other hand, may not look great if you have stooped or sloped shoulders, since they may draw attention to your build in a negative way.
Raglan tops look excellent with jeans and hoodies with the front zipper left open. They also look great at the beach, the mall, or on the couch with your PJ bottoms!
Raglan sleeves have a distinctive form that gives you more room in the underarm and allows you to move freely. A straight seam runs from beneath the arm to the collar, and the sleeve attaches to the body of the garment in a different way than a standard sleeve. This type of sleeve is simple to sew due to its distinctive shape.
Casual jersey-knit tops with three-quarter length sleeves in a contrasting color are the most prevalent use of raglan sleeves. However, many other clothes, such as sporting jackets and baseball jerseys, have this loose sleeve shape to allow for greater mobility.
Can you find any raglan sleeves among your belongings? Are you more or less comfortable wearing this form of sleeve than a regular set-in sleeve? Please let us know in the comments section below!