To get exclusive patterns, projects, information, discounts on patterns, and livestream sessions with Margo, join our Patreon at

Shoulders and Sleeves


The Paned Cap Sleeves

There are two pairs of outer sleeves, the paned cap sleeves and the long sleeves.

For a long time, I interpreted the paned cap sleeves as what we called "shoulder rolls".  I had been taught that they were cut as two crescents, the inner diameter of which spanned the upper two thirds of the armhole. They were seamed together, stuffed, decorated, and whipstitched into the bodice armhole.  But in recent years, I've come to the conclusion that  shoulder rolls on Elizabethan bodices, doublets, and gowns were NOT made this way.

On examination of many images, they appear to actually be very short sleeves, with a gathered or puffed overlay, which was often covered with strips of fabric called panes. You can see a number of examples on my Pinterest board.

 I developed a pattern for this style as part of my Elizabethan Lady's Sleeves  package, and I used it for this project. 

The pattern consists of the base, the puff, the panes, and the band. The band is optional, and I chose not to use it.

The panes are strips of fabric laid over the puff. When they are cut as straight strips, as in the pattern, they spread slightly and allow the puffed layer to peek through, like slashes.

The original pattern has seven panes.  I wanted to use the same wide trim I used on the bodice and skirt, which was too wide for the panes,  so I re-drafted the pattern to create five wider panes.  In order to have the wider panes fit gracefully over the curve of the sleeve, and to allow more of the puffed layer to show,  I cut the sides of the panes into curved shapes.


I cut the puff layer from a gorgeous silk and metal organza. It's shot with champagne colored silk and silver metal. I gathered the top and bottom edges and stitched them to the base layer, leaving an opening to stuff the puff.

I stuffed them with scraps of stiff nylon netting, but I found that the puff was just sheer enough that the netting showed through, so I took the net out and re-stuffed it with scraps of the organza. 

I wanted to pipe the edges of the panes, but couldn't find a gold corded piping that I liked, so I lined them, leaving the upper and lower edges open,  and hand stitched gold cord to each side.  The panes were embellished with the ubiquitous ouches.

I stitched the panes to the base and puff layers, and lined the piece, leaving the upper edge open. 


I finished the upper edge with bias binding, and stitched more of the gold cord to the lower edge.

The sleeve was whipstitched into the bodice armhole. I didn't join the ends of the sleeve. From the evidence in portraits, this was common practice, and I've found that it gives much more ease of movement.

The Long Sleeves 

Paned cap sleeves are usually seen worn in combination with closely fitted long sleeves,  often cut in two pieces. As my upper arms are quite heavy and my wrists and forearms are short and relatively small, this is not a flattering look for me, so I decided to go with a slightly looser one piece sleeve with a curved back seam. Here's how I made the pattern:

I started with my two piece sleeve block. It's drafted in the period appropriate style, with a wide, flat sleeve head.  If you're following along at home, the Narrow Curved Sleeve from the Elizabethan Lady's Sleeves package is the one to use.

I placed the Front and Back pieces with the upper and lower corners touching, as shown, and traced around them, changing the sharp angle at the wrist to a gentle curve.

The sleeves were decorated in the same style as the forepart. I traced the outline onto the fabric with chalk, but didn't cut it out until after the decoration was done, because sometimes heavy embellishment like the cording can draw the fabric up slightly, making it too small.  

They were lined with purple sheath lining fabric, turned, and bias bound across the upper edge. I used a beige bias tape that matched the sleeve fashion fabric to bind the edge, and I wish I hadn't, because it doesn't match the rest of the inside.  It bothers me a bit, but not enough to do it over! 

Many people make Elizabethan sleeves detachable, fastened to the bodice at the armhole with ties, lacing, buttons, or hooks. This is not actually accurate for the period. Detachable sleeves were most common some years earlier,  more worn by men than women, and appear to have been more popular in other countries than England.  They are a modern convention, widely used because many of us wear this clothing in climates much warmer than England during the Little Ice Age, and need to be able to remove some of our garments for health and safety.  As someone who has worn noble class clothing in 105F weather (40.5C) I can attest that this is not an unreasonable adjustment.

Since I doubt that I will wear this costume outdoors, I chose to whipstitch my sleeves to the bodice armhole, inside the cap sleeve.

The wrist openings were fastened with hooks and eyes and I added some small gold buttons for decoration.  I stitched a line of the gold cording over the seam to mimic piping.  

And here's the final product!






  • LyRplocBKtjYMZNA


  • IvNcXuQMOmzE


  • KmNVyluWCeaT


  • ZXmGcAUIaTv


  • Sylvie

    Mamamia! this costume will be amazing. This is the kind of details that make me very happy. You made my day! I was in Venice today and this would have been very nice in the Palazzo I did visit. Ciao ciao

Leave a comment