The Dolman Sleeve Sweater

The Dolman Sleeve Sweater

Dolman Sleeve garments float in and out of the fashion spotlight but are ever-present as an icon of elegance. Dolman is the Turkish word for “robe” and refers to a sleeve that is narrow at the wrist and widest at the point where the arm attaches to the sweater. Dolman-style garments are flattering on most bodies and can be easier projects for newer sweater knitters since it generally doesn’t have to be seamed to the body. 

Let's dive in to the key elements of Dolman Sleeve garments including yarn and fit considerations.


  • Typically knit flat.
  • In its most basic form the sleeves and body create a T-shape, though using increases, decreases or short rows can create some shoulder shaping in a Dolman style garment.
  • Three common construction methods: cuff to cuff (sideways), hem to hem (from the bottom, up and over the shoulders and down to the opposite hem), in two pieces (one front and one back; then seamed together at the sides, the undersides of the sleeves and topsides of sleeves and shoulders).
  • Loose fit in the body and especially at the underarm, although the sleeves commonly taper to be fitted at the cuff.
  • There is no seam (sewn or picked up) between the sleeve and body, and for this reason the fabric is knit in the same direction for both the sleeves and the body.
  • Often very little body shaping,
  • Historically, the Dolman sleeve extends to the wrist; however, in contemporary designs you will often see three-quarter, half, and even short sleeve versions of this style.

YARN CONSIDERATIONS—Dolman-Sleeve Garments

  • Thinner yarns (fingering/sport-weight/DK) help to minimize fabric bunching under arms; though the gathering can be accentuated as a design element.
  • Best paired with yarns with good drape, including blends with fibers like alpaca, silk, linen, viscose, bamboo, rayon, etc.

FIT BENEFITS AND TIPS—Dolman-Sleeve Garments

  • The roomy fit in the upper body and arm opening provides a lot of leeway for fit. This is an advantage that is reinforced by the fabric created with a light-weight yarn and/or a relaxed gauge.
  • Dolman sleeves work equally well for broad and narrow shoulders.
  • Even when a design does not have body shaping, the sloped appearance at the shoulders creates an impression of tapering at the waist, which can be very flattering.
  • Because the sleeves and body are worked in the same direction, this allows for a continuity of pattern across both. So, a lace pattern can be continued from sleeves to body in the same directional orientation.


Though there aren’t as many knitting articles and resources for Dolman sleeves in handknitting as there are for other sleeve shapes, there are some. For this article I learned a great deal from Johnny Vasquez. Here is a link to his post on dolman-sleeve tops: