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Dowager’s hump

creator | Posted in Fitting on

My husband has a rounded upper back.  In addition, as a result of an accident more than thirty years ago, his right arm is bent at an angle, so all these years, he had to compensate for this lack of mobility on his right side, hence developing the rounded back. Also, all his shirts’ right shoulder seam move forward. Anyone can help me with this?

I wonder if the technique for altering a blouse for a rounded back is the same for men.  The technique described by Sue Bennett on the website of Threads allows for darts in the back for a perfect fitting.  I’m not sure about the darts for a man’s shirt!!!!  Anyone can help me with this?


Edited 11/18/2005 12:29 pm ET by creator


  1. FitnessNut | | #1

    I don't know if this will help you, but what I would do is work on a muslin of a shirt for your husband and perfect a pattern that I can use again and again. It may take many attempts and lots of work, but the end product will be worth the effort.

    Having said that, I would imagine that the standard alteration for a rounded upper back would be applicable in this case. You are right in saying that darts wouldn't be appropriate for a man's shirt, but they could easily be incorporated into the seaming of a yoke, which is perfectly suitable. Or once you have established the position and size of the dart on a full back piece, you can draw your yoke seamline on the pattern, cut the pieces apart and close the dart on the yoke. The resulting pattern piece will look odd, but it should work. Test in unimportant fabric and don't forget to add seam allowances. Just beware of striped or plaid fabric when using a technique that closes darts as the pattern will then be skewed.

    For draping a shirt pattern to fit your husband, you might want to check out David Page Coffin's book "Shirtmaking", published by Taunton.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Taylormade | | #2

    I saw your question about sewing for a rounded upper back and thought maybe my experience may help you.  I think the method I have found most useful is working with a muslin from a simple pattern and them making the changes right on the muslin while you are wearing it.  On your pattern, and muslin, mark the grainline, and 2 horizontal markings, one at the bust or chest, the other at the waist or hips.  Start with a pattern that has a center back seam or add one by using the CB fold line and add seam allowances.  (This will allow you to incorporate the added curve into the seam caused by the rounded area of the back) 

    About 3" down from the back neck edge (this distance may vary depending on the location of the "roundness",)  slice the fabric all the way across the upper back perpendicular to the grain line.  (Essentially from shoulder to shoulder.)  Then let the fabric open to where the top fits in the problem area, with no wrinkles and the horizontal chest and waist markings are even all the way around the garment.   Then insert a pieceof muslin under the opening you made, baste it to the top, making sure it is as smooth as you can make it.  Remove the muslin, open out the side seams so you can lie the back  flat, folded in half.  Place the original pattern on top of the folded muslin, and increase the length and shape of the back seam line according to the changes you produced on the muslin.  Cut out a new muslin and try on.  You might have to tweek this a bit, but that should give you  the extra room you need and still have a well fitting garment.  I have seen this method demonstated by Kenneth King a few times.

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