Here is how I make my pinned on sleeves for my 14th and 15th century outfits. Pin on sleeves is an easy and quick project, perfect for that spare bit of extra fancy fabric you may have stashed.
The easiest way to make a pinned sleeve is to base it on a regular S-sleeve, that is to say, a sleeve with the seam on the back of the body. Here is my sleeve pattern and my pinned on sleeves, do you notice that I make the upper part of the loose sleeve a bit flatter? Since I won’t be sewing on the sleeve to a bodice, I can cut away some excess fabric to make the sleeve laying more smoothly on my arm. In this case, I also make it a bit more narrow than my regular sleeves, to achieve a tight fitted look. These sleeves also have a cuff so the main piece is shorter than a regular sleeve.
If you don’t have a sleeve pattern that fits you, you can draft your sleeve on a piece of paper or scrap clothing first to make a toile. Measure your arm’s length, and then around your upper arm, your bent elbow, and last around your wrist. Add some cm or about 1 inch in movement space, add seam allowance, draft the sleeve, cut it out, and then try it on. Remember that silk fabric often is stiffer and less flexible than cotton or woollen fabrics.
I sew my sleeves with running stitches on the inside and then fell the seams with whipstitch by hand, but you can of course use the sewing machine. The hem I usually fold twice and whipstitch, if I don’t line the sleeve or use a reinforcement piece.
The sleeve should be quite tight fitted if watching North European paintings, and also long enough for your arm- be sure to try it on with a shift/dress under and bend your elbow.
At the wrist, you can just finish the sleeve with a whipstitched hem, or add a cuff with one to three buttons (for 15th century style). The yellow sleeves have a cuff; they make it possible to have a tightly fitting sleeve around my wrist, and if they get stained or worn I can cut off the cuffs and replace them with new fabric. It is also a good way to save some fabric if you need sleeves longer than half the width of your fabric (or if you need to piece out your sleeves on scrap pieces of fabric).
To fasten the sleeves on your dress; use dress pins to pin them on. Very simple and practical! If you have small children though, you might want to fasten the sleeves in a different way so the small ones don’t touch it by mistake. A way to do this is to sew a small hook on the inside of the sleeve, right at the top where you should pin it to your arm, and then fasten the hook in an eye sewed onto the dress. If you have a small enough hook, and a sturdy woollen dress, you may put the hook directly in the fabric. This may not be the most historic way (pinning seems to be the thing) but is a safer way for not accidentally stabbing yourself or someone small.
Also, if you have a very delicate patterned silk fabric, a sewed on hook will make the fabric last longer.
Talking about delicate silk fabrics; it could be good to strengthen the sleeves by adding a lining, either line the whole sleeve with thin linen fabric, or just add a strip on the inside at the upper and lower hem. That may add to a more durable sleeve, get you a better edge and make it easier to sew. Do you notice that the sleeve on the picture above has a visible line around the upper arm? (The fabric doesn’t lay smoothly) this fabric would probably have been better of with a reinforcement strip on the inside of the hem, instead of folding down and whipstitch it. This was a quite stiff silk brocade fabric.
So, learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make your own!