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Fitting blouse collar

WhiteBow | Posted in Fitting on

I have a problem with blouses and I’m hoping someone has the magic answer.

The collars of blouses (both storebought and ones I’ve sewn) always ride back on my body. The collar will not stay put against the back of my neck; it slides down as if someone were pulling on the back hem of my blouse. The front rides up, of course.

Here are the figure problems that I DON’T have, which can cause this problem:
–large bust
–forward neck
–sloping shoulders
–forward shoulder roll
–hunched posture
–dowager’s hump
–thick neck

As you can see, I have become something of an expert on this problem–except on how to fix it for myself! When I look in the mirror, I just don’t see anything odd about my shoulders or neck that would cause this problem. I am very frustrated because it is uncomfortable as well as unattractive to wear blouses that constantly ride to the back and pull up in front.

Do you have any new suggestions on what might be causing this problem, and how to alter a pattern to fix it?

Thank you!



  1. woodywoodpecker598 | | #1

    I could be getting way out on a limb here and I could be wrong as well but I seem to remember a Shirley Adams show that talked aobut removing 1/2" from the front shoulder seam and adding it to the back should seam and then proceeding. The catch here is that I can't remember why it was done but I think it was when the collar ect pulled to the back. Hopefully someone will correct me if I wrong.

    1. cafms | | #3

      Marcy Tilton says to do this with T-shirts to keep them from riding back.

      http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00161.asp  Open drawing #1 and she mentions removing 1/4 inch from the front and adding to the back.


    2. User avater
      Becky-book | | #4

      The shoulder seam is often altered, as you describe, to accommodate forward shoulder points (forward roll); Christina lists this as one of the things she does not have. I'll place my bet on the square shoulders idea, she may just not have noticed it before.Becky

      Edited 4/11/2008 8:11 am ET by Becky-book

  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    Are your shoulders very square...not broad but more parallel to the floor that most peoples?

  3. User avater
    Becky-book | | #5

    Some one mentioned square shoulders...

    get some craft paper and tape it up on a wall as high as your head. Have a friend draw around your body, being careful to keep the pencil straight. Step back and look at the silhouette. you will probably be able to see your shoulder slope (or lack of slope) from this drawing.

    Or wear a swim suit and have a friend take photos with digital camera, (see Threads issue #125 p.51 Discover the Best Proportions...)

    Pattern alteration... if you do have square shoulders, you will want to "flatten" the slope of the shoulder seam to match your own. How much to change depends on your shoulders.

    Hope this helps,

    1. WhiteBow | | #6

      I don't have square shoulders either, so I'm sure this is a frustrating question because I am not giving you anything to go on as far as figuring out the problem and how to solve it. I am stumped, too! I was just hoping that someone would come up with an obscure, magic solution, like, "My Aunt Mary had that problem and it turned out that the back of her neck was flat!" or something else unusual that the fitting-advice books never cover. Once of my fitting books mentions having a broad trapezius muscle, which is a possibility for me, although usually that results in sloping shoulders, which I don't have. Also, the advice on how to fit a collar for that situation was to enlarge the circumference of the neckline, and I think that's bad advice--I don't have a thick neck, so making the collar bigger wouldn't solve the problem or settle the collar in the right place on the body.Anyway, thank you to everyone who answered so far. I'll just keep tugging my blouses down...Christina

  4. cafms | | #7

    Have you seen Gale Grigg Hazen's book Fantastic Fit For Every Body?  On page138 there is a picture of "Beverly" who has a broad back and pronounced shoulder blades which cause her shirt to pull down in the back.  Her shirt collar sits away from the back of her neck.  She also has a small upper chest.  On page 160 is a discussion of how to alter the pattern to correct for these three things.  I didn't notice these things on your list of figure problems you don't have so maybe this is something to check.

  5. Elizard | | #8

    I'm afraid I don't have the magic answer, but I've got a question.
    Have you actually tried any of the alterations on your list; or have you looked in the mirror and decided 'no, that's not me'?
    I've been thinking in that way, only to find out what the pattern tells me- that I have what I didn't think I had(If you know what I mean).

    1. WhiteBow | | #9

      That's a good question. Some of the possible problems are easily ruled out by measurements. I have a 34" bust and I'm 5'7", so "large bust" is out. So is "thick neck." I definitely don't have a dowager's hump. Posture issues are more questionable (shoulder roll, slouching, forward neck), but I did try the recommended solution for those problems, which is to add to the upper back length. I just tried that in my latest attempt in making a blouse, and it didn't work. The blouse still rides to the back. The center back of the neckline tends to ride about one inch below where it should be. What if I just raised the back neckline by one inch at the center? Would that work? Has anyone tried that? I'd end up shortening the collar circumference slightly...

      1. Teaf5 | | #10

        Do you have any ready-to-wear shirts that fit well and do not ride back? You could take a pattern off one and compare it to your pattern tissue.  The shape of the upper front, upper back, and the shoulder are critical, and they vary from pattern to pattern and company to company.  We tend to focus on bust and front fitting, but the fit of the upper back and the neckline against your neck and shoulders is far more important.

        Two rtw brands that fit me well and don't ride back are Harve Benard and Carole Little.  When I compare a new blouse or shirt pattern to either, I need to completely change the upper half of the bodice, adding to the front and taking away from the back and changing the neckline, sleeves, and shoulders completely.  It's a lot of work, but the resulting tops rest comfortably against my neck and don't rotate, even when I'm "talking" with my hands or get lazy with my posture.

      2. Elizard | | #11

        I see what you mean...Here's what I could find in my fitting books which may (or may not :) help you.
        Is the balance between front and back bodice right? (perhaps the back is to short, and the front is too long between neck and under-arm?)
        If you need extra centre back length try drawing a line from an inch below centre back neck point to shoulder point, cut it, and spread the amount needed at centre back(edit: tapering of to nothing at shoulder); then redraw neck to original size (shoulder will be longer and needs to be eased in more).
        Have you tried doing a muslin with grain-line markings, to see how they behave?

        Edited 4/14/2008 4:31 pm by Elizard

  6. From my Stash.... | | #12

    You've received a lot of great items to check off on this problem and a number of items that I would have mentionned are already on your list.

    I am going to ask the same old question, I'm afraid:  Where are the wrinkles in the back?

    If there are horizontal wrinkles around the lower shoulder blades or the underarms, then a close fit there may be the cause of the pulling.

    If there are no wrinkles, check where you neckline naturally sits compared to a short chain.  If the neckline is too low, then you know you need to add length to the center back seam and then maybe the adjustment to the front shoulder and back shoulder seam to get your seam sitting straight on the mid-point of your shoulder.

    It is likely that making one change creates other problems, and there is often more than one way to approach a problem.

    If you can take a picture of your back in something that pulls (not black please) and post it, we might be able to help further  

  7. LeahBoyan | | #13

    Shirts riding back - what worked for me!


    I had the exact problem, RTW and sewing patterns ride up my neck in the front and down my back. It was so frustrating I gave up sewing for years and wore only turtle necks or camis. 

    Last fall I came across Kathleen Fassinella's book (fashion-incubator.com) where she has a short chapter on improving product fit. It changed my sewing life!

    The fix for the 'riding back' issue is quite simple. Her book details it and I'd recommend buying it or sending a little gift her way because I think it's such a great tip. Basically all you need to do is raise the CB neck depth a LOT more than you might expect or may have done with the other adjustments you described (dowagers hump adjustment for example). The end result is that the back neck depth should be very shallow, like a half inch or less. So if you were to square a line from your neck shoulder point and square a line at CB neck, the difference in depth would be around 3/8 inch. The finer boned you are the shallower the CB neck depth needs to be. kathleen describes why this works by giving an example of a little kid wearing an adult tshirt. Ever notice the tshirt rides down the back of the kid's neck? Kids have no bust, typically they haven't decelpoed a forward shoulder, and don't have prominent anything, like broad shoulders or other posture adjustments we decelpoed with age. Yet give a 5 year old dad's old softball league Tshirt and the neck will ride down the back.  Now take the same tshirt and put a big clip along the cb neck, effectively raising the neckline and making the neck circumference smaller in the back, and voila, the tshirt stops riding back. 

    I make this adjustment with all of my patterns, and have had no issues except with patterns that are intentionally lower at CB, like a wide cowl neck on a raglan sleeve, for example  I'm still experimenting with how best to adjust this type of pattern, and was doing some research on how to fix this when I csme across your post. I realize it's been years since you posted this issue but I hope this helps!


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