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Alterations on ready to wear-armholes

mae | Posted in Fitting on


I have been sewing for over 30 years, everything from a to z, but have a problem I hope someone can help me with.  I’m sure many other women have this same problem.  I have an extensive library (books, magazines ect.) but have not found an answer in any of them for this problem:


Over the years my middle has expanded (like many of us I am sure).  I have to purchase a 2x or 22/24 to fit this area.  The top is always to big.  I love to wear a sleeveless dress or shirt but the armholes are so long my bra always shows and I just  think it looks way to gross….. I have seen other women walk around like this!  I am not sure if I should take up the shoulder, take in the side seam under the arm, add darts or what?  Sometimes I also have a gap (too much fabric) between the shoulder seam and side seam in the bust area.  Can anyone offer any suggestions?



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  1. stitchmd | | #1

    Depending on whether the armholes are too low or too wide I will take in the shoulder seam or the side seam, sometimes both. For the side seam you need to taper it so it keeps the width at the middle but gets narrower at the underarm. It's easy to pin or baste it until you get the fit you like, or compare it to a top that fits to see where they differ.

    1. mae | | #5

      Thanks for your suggestions, I have a lot of clothing items to experiment on.

  2. SewTruTerry | | #2

    Also depending upon the neckline you may want to taper the shoulder seam so that you are not making the neck too small.  Also by tapering at the shoulder area you will be raising the arm hole and may not have to adjust the side seam.

  3. suesew | | #3

    Hi Sounds to me like you need to raise the underarm since the pattern makers think your arms are big, too. This will add even more to the gap fabric but you could turn that into a dart. Darts almost always are needed for good fit and they can be done in a large variety of ways. Wouldn't it be great if we could sketch ideas on these message exchanges?

    1. mae | | #4

      Thanks for your imput, yes it would be wonderful if we could add sketches

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