Sleeve and armscye terminology

Here is the question I hear often: “What is the armscye? Is there a difference between armscye and armhole?”

This gave me an idea for this post.
An armscye is the opening for your arm. Armscye and armhole are the same thing.

Armscye has a few characteristics:

  • Length ( can be measured with a flexible ruler )
  • Height – measured vertically. Can be adjusted depending on your design or fit preferences
  • Width – measured horizontally

Armscye length depends on its depth and width measurements.


First comes bodice, then comes sleeve. Sleeve cap measurements are in direct connection with the bodice armscye measurements.

Sleeve cap characteristics are:

  • Sleeve cap height determines how fitted the sleeve is going to be. The higher the sleeve cap, the tighter is the fit and the bigger is your arm movement range ( I know, it sounds mutually exclusive, but it is true ).
  • Sleeve width is set by you depending on your sleeve fit preference. The width equals Arm girth measurement + sleeve ease.
  • Sleeve cap length. Possibly the trickiest part. Sleeve cap length equals the Armscye length plus sleeve cap ease. Sleeve cap ease depends on design of your garment and the fabric you are using. Some lighter fabrics can’t take much ease without puckering, but thicker coating can take much more ease and can be handled very successfully.

More on sleeve ratios and norms here

Sleeve length depends on the sleeve width and the sleeve cap height. The connection is very exact, so all sleeve head adjustments have to be planned and calculated, and then compared to the Armscye. Any change will affect fit and appearance of your sleeve, so pay close attention to all the measurements.

by Lena

5 thoughts on “Sleeve and armscye terminology

  1. LBoss says:

    Please help me, i love sewing but have never got fitting right.there is always excess fabric around the armhole and i don’t know my armhole width. My bust is 44”

  2. luisa says:

    More blog posts on pattern alterations – love the post on adjusting upper arm sleeve width which has always been a problem for me. Thank you for the post, it will be very useful. I will also download (purchase) the file on it.

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