Designers have a variety of sleeve styles to choose from when knitting garments. Above are illustrated the basic types. It’s important to know how these styles fit into the armhole – when it comes to shaping the knit pieces, and seaming the garment together. The top, shaped part of the sleeve is referred to as the “cap”, not to be confused with the “cap” style.
Sleeve Shapes And How They Fit Into Armhole (see images below)
- Classic Set-in: has a symmetric curved cap that fits a shaped armhole. Each half of the sleeve cap fits into the the front and back armhole after the shoulders are seamed together. The same number of stitches are bound off at the beginning of armhole shaping, on both sides of the cap, and the front and back pieces.
- Saddle Yoke Armhole: combines a set-in cap and a yoke extension. The extension fits into the top of the shoulder creating a yoke for the front and back. This extension becomes part of the neckline.
- Raglan Armhole: is shaped in a continuous slope to the neckline. The same number of decreases are applied to all pieces to give an exact fit.
- Semi-raglan: has a shorter slope than a raglan, combined with a wide cap.
- Dolman Sleeve (or batwing): is wide at the armhole; narrower at the wrist, and formed by adding stitches to the body of the garment – no armhole seam.
Most sleeve styles fit into the armhole with any of the above shapes, except the dolman and drop shoulder. The drop shoulder style is relaxed with no cap. The top edge of this sleeve is straight, and is the same measurement as the total armhole circumference. A modified drop style, has minimal shaping – binding off only at the beginning of armhole shaping. A puff sleeve has a gathered cap, and is usually set-in.
When assembling the garment, it is easiest to sew in the sleeves before sewing the side and sleeve seams; unless the garment was knitted in one piece to the armhole with circular needles. In this case, the sleeve seam is sewn first, followed by sewing the sleeve into the armhole.