Have you ever seen a type of sleeve mentioned and not known what it meant? Or looked like? In this article we delve into 5 different common sleeve styles and what they mean. You no longer have to wonder the difference between Raglan, Dolman or Set in as you will be able to instantly picture the style they are talking about.

Now let’s take a look!


Sleeveless designs speak to minimalism and uninhibited movement. By foregoing sleeves altogether, they create open armholes that showcase shoulders and grant unmatched ease of motion. This style has historical roots in warm climates and societies that prioritized practicality. From the simplest tank tops to the most intricate evening gowns, sleeveless styles continue to provide a blank canvas for creative experimentation in neckline design, accessories, and layering.
My Favourite Sleeveless Patterns:

Set-In Sleeves

Set-in sleeves are probably one of the most common types of sleeves and seen in many ready to wear garments. In knit garments such as t-shirts and polos, they are fairly easily sewn in, however in some woven garments you need to ‘ease’ them into the arm hole.  Their history dates back to the Victorian era, where they symbolized sophistication and grace. In today’s context, there are many variations of the set in sleeve such as capped, puff, petal & bishop. They are a stylish and great addition to many garments.
My Favourite Set in Sleeve Patterns:

Dolman Sleeves

Dolman sleeves introduce a drapey and relaxed silhouette. Seamlessly integrating with the garment body, they often extend to the waist or hip, offering comfort and a touch of artistic flair. With origins in the Ottoman Empire and popularized in the 19th century, dolman sleeves continue to embody a fusion of comfort and exotic charm. They shine in casual ensembles, giving a bohemian vibe to tops, tunics, and dresses while providing ample room for fabric experimentation.
My Favourite Dolman Sleeve Patterns:

Raglan Sleeves

Raglan sleeves combine sportiness and style. Defined by a diagonal seam from neckline to underarm, they offer a generous shoulder fit and great arm motion. With historical origins tied to Lord Raglan’s military coat, this style gained prominence for its functional design and comfort, making it a go-to for sports attire. In modern times, raglan sleeves find their place in casual fashion, athletic wear, and outerwear, providing a relaxed fit suitable for various activities.
My Favourite Raglan Sleeve Patterns:

Flutter Sleeves

Flutter sleeves bring a touch of whimsy and grace to any garment. Characterized by their loose, flouncy design, they create an enchanting fluttering effect around the arms. Historically, they evoke femininity and romanticism, gaining popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In contemporary fashion, flutter sleeves infuse dresses, blouses, and children’s wear with playful elegance, evoking a carefree aura and allowing for effortless movement. I am a big fan of the flutter sleeve.
My Favourite Flutter Sleeve Patterns:

Hopefully this gives you a better idea as to which sleeve means what next time you see a sleeve term you are unfamiliar with.

Be bold and adventurous and try some new styles to see if they work for you. Many knit patterns come with a few different sleeve variations so I encourage you to give them a try. Sleeves are a great way to change the look of a garment without changing the pattern if you know the pattern fits you well.

Have a little fun with some sensational sleeves!