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Alterations for narrow shoulders

PowellPat | Posted in Fitting on

I need to alter a blouse pattern by narrowing the shoulders. (The pattern has extended or “drop” sleeves.) If I reduce the blouse’s shoulders by 3/4″, will I need to alter the sleeve cap as well? It seems to me that in changing the shoulders I’ll be changing the shape of the arm hole. However, none of my reference books make mention of altering the sleeve when making alterations to the shoulder.

Thanks in advance for your advice.


  1. HeartFire2 | | #1

    are you pulling this 'dropped' shoulder up to the shoulder point? if you do that you will need to alter (re-shape) the sleeve cap, but if your just shortening the shoulder to fit you and keep the style lines the way they are, then you do not need to alter the sleeve.

    1. PowellPat | | #2

      I'm just altering it to fit me better. (Not trying to make it look like a set-in sleeve.) Thanks for the advice. I'll proceed w/o changes to the sleeve cap!

  2. fabricholic | | #3

    You might want to look at Nancy Zeiman's pivot & slide method of adjusting for narrow shoulders.  It works well for me.


  3. NovaSkills | | #4

    Advice you already received concurs with my experience, but I add this...

    Narrow shouldered people may also have narrow backs, compared to their bust/front, and may benefit from using a size smaller pattern for the back than for the front. Or, you may actually need shallow back neckline or shoulder seam DARTS rather than shoulder seamline SHORTENING.

    Pinch and pin several options into a mockup or your pattern and see what works best.

    1. PowellPat | | #5

      Thanks for your ideas. I'll give it some thought, however, I am round shouldered and collars usually fit me well so at first thought I doubt a narrower, smaller back would solve the problem. I'll do some measuring and consider this option.

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