What’s the best way to stitch sleeves is a question I get quite often. Your choice about how to stitch them depends on how the garment is constructed, how much you want to distinguish the sleeves, and the figure’s position.
Let’s look at some possibilities and what to do.
If the sleeves run in a different direction than the body, pick a stitch that looks good when stitched in two directions. Then change the direction for the sleeves. This relates the body and sleeves because they are the same stitch, but it makes the sleeves clearly, but not overwhelmingly so, different from the body.
This is especially good to do when the garment is solid.
If the sleeve pattern is continuous with the body, you have a couple of choices. You could have it all be continuous, as I did with the upper part of the sleeves on this Petei wiseman. Alternatively, you could p[ick as stitch where you ended the sleeve stitches and began the body stitches at the shoulder, creating a seam line.
If the shoulder sems are curved (cut-away) or diagonal (raglan) you can’t make a clear seam, so you will want to define it by using Whipped Backstitch in a matching color at the seam. Don’t worry this does not create a focal point because the color matches.
If the arm and sleeves bend, as is the case in the wiseman, you will need to change direction, but only for the bent part of the sleeve.
I love how the striped pattern in the robe makes this treatment really obvious. The robe’s body has vertical stripes, while the lower sleeves have horizontal ones. You could emphasize this further by changing the slant of the stitches.
With a bit of thought you can easily create great sleeves on your needlepoint figures.