Basic shirt sleeve block displayed on Adobe Illustrator.

How to: Draft a Shirt Sleeve Pattern and Cuff in Adobe Illustrator

Patetrn Making in Adobe Illustrator

Embarking on the journey of drafting a shirt sleeve pattern, we embrace the elegance of tailoring with the precision of Adobe Illustrator. In this pattern making tutorial, you’ll expand your creative horizons by learning how to craft a shirt sleeve pattern from the foundational bodice basic block sleeve. This pattern making project is not only simple but is an invaluable addition to your design repertoire, allowing you to introduce unique shirt elements into any ensemble.

With an emphasis on a tailored fit, we delve into the methods of adjusting the wrist and elbow circumferences of your basic sleeve block, shaping the sleeve for a contoured silhouette that enhances movement and comfort. But it’s not just about the fit; it’s about character. You’ll also learn how to integrate a custom cuff style, a touch that can transform the ordinary to the extraordinary. To complete the transformation, we’ll guide you through creating a sleeve split or placket opening—a detail that epitomises the bespoke nature of your design.

This pattern making project is designed to be accessible, ensuring that even those new to Adobe Illustrator or pattern making can achieve professional results. By the end of this tutorial, your shirt sleeve pattern will be a testament to your craftsmanship, ready to bring a touch of tailored sophistication to your garments. Let’s begin the journey towards a beautifully crafted shirt sleeve pattern that stands at the intersection of classic style and modern technique.

New to pattern making in Adobe Illustrator? Learn the fundamental pattern making techniques with our comprehensive online course. Read more…

Essentials for Following Along

Before we dive in, you’ll need a bodice basic block to keep up with this pattern-making project. We offer two types of basic blocks for your selection. Standardized basic blocks are ready for immediate use, allowing you to start drafting right away, though they might not match your measurements perfectly. On the other hand, a bespoke basic block, tailored to your specific measurements, offers a precise fit but requires time to create, as we’ll need 28 of your body measurements. Choose the one that best suits your needs!

Bodice basic block. What is a basic block, dress basic block, torso basic block, skirt basic block, trouser basic block. Basic blocks for pattern making.lock, dress basic block, torso basic block, skirt basic block, trouser basic block.

Standardized Basic Block

Start pattern making immediately

Visit our partner site, DesignLab.London, for a variety of bodice basic blocks available in multiple sizes. These serve as an ideal starting point or base pattern for your pattern-making project. Explore the collection, select your preferred style and size, and download it to proceed with your project.

Master Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator with our Free course Adapt basic blocks into finished patterns

Bespoke Basic Blocks

Craft a personalized basic block designed for your unique measurements

Looking for a tailor-made basic block for this project? You’re in the right place. Construct your personalised basic block in the Lab by providing your measurements. Simply create a profile, input your measurements, and utilise this profile to design a range of basic block styles. You’ll need the bodice basic block for this project.

What’s Next?

You’re not done there though! If you want to share it online or print it off at home, you’ll need to add seam allowance and transform it into a PDF sewing pattern. Check out the projects below to find out how.

Screenshot of Adobe Illustrator showing the 'Offset Path' function being used to add seam allowance to a basic block of a halter-neck swimsuit pattern.

Learn How to Add Seam Allowance to Your Patterns

Learn how to add seam allowance, to your basic blocks and finished patterns, in Adobe Illustrator, using our simple pattern making tutorial.

Computer screen with a digital pattern making program, Adobe Illustrator open, showing a dress basic block pattern, on a desk with modern design tools.

Master Pattern Making Techniques in Adobe Illustrator

Transform Basic Blocks into Precision Finished Patterns

Learn the fundamental techiques of pattern making with our Free comprehensive pattern making in Adobe Illustrator course

Screenshot of a dress basic block layout in Adobe Illustrator, showcasing the process to create PDF sewing patterns.

Learn How to Create PDF Sewing Patterns

Transform your finished patterns into multi-page PDF sewing patterns in a range of paper sizes. Then save, print from home, or share and sell your PDF sewing patterns online.


  1. Julia Knie

    I am having exactly the same question. Is there a tutorial showing how to adjust the individual pattern parts: bodice & sleeve etc. to each other when altering the armhole?

  2. Julia

    Hi! i love the work that you are doing… i really enjoy illustrator and sewing patterns, so what a wonderful combination! Seeing the sleeve tutorials i miss one where you show us how to reshape de height and the width of the cap of the sleeve, for more relaxed and loose fitting to use with the bodice. If i reshpae the sleeve armhole i don´t know how to traduce that on to the sleeve. I hope i have explained well. Keep going with this project! its amaizing, Thank you very much.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This