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Help in drafting back arm hole facing

Pearl5 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello everyone.  I planned to make a sleeveless pullover top (Simplicity 8523) but it seems I have misplaced the pattern for the back armhole facing.  Can someone tell me how to draw the missing pattern piece?  I have no experience at all in drafting a pattern.  I will appreciate any advice …





  1. carolfresia | | #1

    HI, Pearl,

    This is a simple job--ideal for your first patterndrafting work. All you  have to do is trace the back armscye shape, and draw a line parallel to it as wide as the front armohole facing. And if you want to go a step further and reduce bulk at the shoulder seam, you can join the back and front facings into a single piece by overlapping them at the shoulder seam and cutting them as one. Then you just have a seam under the arm, and a longer, C-shaped facing that goes all the way around the armhole.


    1. Pearl5 | | #2

      Carol -- Thank you.  I think I can do that without a problem.  And I appreciate the tip about joining the two facings at the shoulder -- I have never done that and its a good thing! 



      1. FitnessNut | | #3

        If you decide to make the facing as one piece, be sure to completely eliminate the seam allowances on both pieces before joining them. Or you can guarantee that they won't fit the armhole.

        1. Pearl5 | | #4

          Yes, thanks for reminding me about the seam allowances.


          You know, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Now I'm thinking what I would really like to do is cut a bias armhole facing, fold and press the center, stitch it, turn it and use top stitching instead using the wider facing.  I did this on a Kwik Sew pattern and I liked it for a quick, comfortable summer top.  I don't know how to draft or cut the bias strip though.   Can I get advice again please? 


          This forum is so helpful.  I am grateful for the chance to participate. 


          Thanks again.  Pearl

          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #5

            Dear Pearl,

            I would measure the length of the armhole SEAM (not the edge of the seam allowance) and then add 1 inch (for 2, 1/2 inch seam allowances), the width of the strip depends on how wide you want the band to look on the outside plus seam allowances.  For a 1/2 inch band you need 1 inch plus 1 1/4 inch for 5/8 inch seams.  Be careful not to stretch the bias strip when you fold it in half; I would not press it till after sewn into the armhole, trimmed, clipped and turned to the outside.  A strip cut on the true bias works best, but I have fudged it a little and still managed a neck edge this way!

            Happy sewing!


          2. Pearl5 | | #6

            Hi Becky:  So, if I want a 1/2 inch finished binding, I'll measure from the top of the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the armhole and add 2and 1/4", and use a 5/8" seam allowance.  Is that right?




          3. User avater
            Becky-book | | #7


            I wish I could draw a picture for you! 

            Do you want to finish the entire armhole or just the back half with bias binding? I assumed the entire armhole.

            You will need a rectangle shape that is as long as the distance around your armhole (starting at the side seam, going all the way around the seam and back to where you started) That is the length; then figure the width of the shape; about 2 1/4 inches for a 1/2 inch binding.  It will probably look long and skinny.

            If you only want to bind the back half of the arm hole just make sure the bias strip is longer than the back half of the armhole (from shoulder to side seam) how that works out with the front half of your armhole could get tricky!

            Hope this helps!


          4. Pearl5 | | #8

            Becky:  Okay, I think I have it.  I want to use the binding on the entire armhole.  I am making a muslin because I am using a variety of sizes on the multi-size pattern so I can experiment. 


            Thanks for your help.  I have one more question.  The blouse is wider from the neck to the shoulder than I want or need (all the way to the base of the armhole).  Can I simply cut a new C curve about 1/4" in from the edge of the pattern?  I won't be offended if you tell me to take a class somewhere!!!!  Its just I'm learning as I go and want my garments to fit nicely. 


          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #9

            Dear Pearl,

            I'm still learning too, just a little farther down the road!

            If I understand your question, you want to change the length of the shoulder seam (from neck to arm) by cutting off some fabric at the armhole edge. If you cut some off all the way around, then the entire armhole will be larger (maybe good, maybe not!).  You can cut a little off at the shoulder and taper to nothing before you get to the middle of the armhole. 

            Is the pattern fitting well around your bust line?  with room to move (wearing ease)? If it is too big here then maybe you need a smaller size.

            Do you subscribe to Threads Mag.? They had some helpful articles on changing the shape of a pattern's armscye (pattern lingo for arm hole!) the "Why and How" of it.  If not, don't worry, I won't tell you to go away!  I like to help people and I know what it is like to not have money for classes!

            Hope this helps,


          6. Pearl5 | | #11

            Becky -- yes, I want to shorten the length of the shoulder seam. and reduce the width of the armhole.  It extends too far out on my arm for a sleeveless top.  The bust fits with appropriate ease.  I'm beginning to think there are too may options and too much info with these multi-sized patterns.  I used one size at shoulder, another at bust dart and another for width of the garment.


            I tried drawing a revised partial pattern, cutting some off all around and discovered, as you said, it made the armhole too big. 


            I think I have narrow shoulders, "normal" bust, but I have a large waist and midriff which requires a larger size for comfortable fit.  (57 years old -- wouldn't it be grand to be 30 again or maybe just have a shapely figure!)

            I have recently subscribed to Threads and will search through my  issues to find help.  I think there is an on-line index somewhere although if its an older copy, I won't have it.  Love that magazine.  I bought random issues in the past even though the articles were too advanced for me.

            I appreciate your help so much.


          7. User avater
            Becky-book | | #12

            Dear Pearl,

            The issue I had in mind is #117 March 2005 page 44. Lots of drawings to show where things can go wrong and how to fix them.

            This is one of those obvious things, but I'll say it anyway, don't forget that when you try on an unfinished garment the unstitched seam allowances can make things look wrong when really they are just unfinished.  When I am trying to convince one of my girls that it really will fit WHEN I AM DONE, I stitch some basting threads on the seam line and fold the seam allowances back so they can see where the finished edge will be.  Of course on a curved seam this will mean clipping into the seam allowance so it will fold back.

            I know what you mean about the long lost "girlish figure" oh, well.

            Keep me posted on your progress, please.


          8. Pearl5 | | #13

            Becky:  I was looking through my Threads magazines and Vogue Patterns magazines last night.  I found exactly what I was looking for in Vogue Patterns August/Sept. 2005 issue.  The topic is Narrow Shoulder Adjustments and its the Ask Sandra Betzina article.  She advises taking a cross back measurement on a garment that rides exactly where you want it to on the shoulder and then compare it to the pattern.  She also tells how to make the pattern adjustment.  So, as soon as I have a little time, I'll work on the Simplicity pattern again and perhaps start with a new muslin.  Thats what they are for, aren't they?  I'll keep you posted on my progress and, again, thanks for all the help and support.


          9. User avater
            Becky-book | | #14

            Dear Pearl,

            Glad to hear you found a helpful article. If the first "muslin" is unusable, keep it for cutting out smaller pieces (but you probably knew that!)


          10. Josefly | | #15

            Pearl, your description of shoulders, bust, and waist sounds like my figure. I think all the patterns are made for young women with relatively high bust and waists still tiny! Just remember that sometimes the back shoulder width needs to be wider than the front, especially if you are round-shouldered at all. I have altered patterns in both front and back when all I needed was to narrow the front above the bust, then found the back uncomfortable. You are going about this the right way, and will have a very useful pattern when you get it fine-tuned.

          11. Pearl5 | | #16

            Thanks for your response.  I also am trying to solve another issue.  With a jewel neckline or one even cut lower, the front neck is too large -- not much, maybe 1/2inch.  How can this be reduced on a one-piece pattern front and even a two-piece front with buttons?  Altering the shoulder seams has not corrected this problem.  What  I need is a whole new body, but thats not likely to happen.



          12. User avater
            Becky-book | | #17

            Dear Pearl,

            About the neck being too big - where do you see the "too big-ness" of the neckline.  Is it too wide, or does it gape out in front in the center? Could it be that the angle of the shoulder seam does not match the angle of your shoulders?  Try on your muslin with the seams outside and pin a different angle at the shoulder and that will effect a change in your neckline (in other words, pin out more fabric close to your neck and none at the shoulder edge)

            Some times the back shoulder angle is ok and the front needs just a little tweak!

            Hope this helps,


          13. Teaf5 | | #18

            I love your "perfect solution" of a better body--wouldn't that be wonderful?I, too, have more fitting problems with my mature body, which is much fuller than before but still very flat in the upper chest area, making almost every blouse very big and clunky through the front. I have success with two different methods of altering for this problem:1) On the paper pattern, I fold out a 3/4"wide and very long dart in the shoulder seam, so that there's much less fabric across the upper chest but enough across the bust. I do the same for the back, although the dart is shorter so that there's enough fabric across the back. I have to straighten out the shoulder seam and center front.2) When using a multisize pattern, I use the size 10/12 lines around the neck, shoulders and upper arm, but use the 18 or 20 for the side seam in the front--yes, that's five sizes different between my neck/shoulder area and my bust/belly area! I have to be careful to use the corresponding sizes in the collar, sleeves, and facings, but the results are amazing. There is no extra fabric or bulk around my upper part, but enough for comfort for the lower part. Try it on some extra fabric!

          14. Josefly | | #19

            I've been reading this topic with interest, and appreciate your suggestions. I'm eager to try your technique for folding out fullness at the shoulder seam. I've tried using different cutting lines, as in your second suggestion, with mixed success. I think reducing that front shoulder distance from neck to sleeve seam is the key. Sounds easier to me than using a smaller pattern and adjusting for a fuller bust.

          15. flytootall | | #20

            I also read this with interest.  I've decided I spend way too much time on this computer, but it sure is interesting and you learn so much.  FYI, there is a web site, http://www.freespace.net/~marpin/threads.htm, and this lady, Maria, has made a list of all the articles in Threads, so if you ever need to look something up, this is the place to go.  I just looked at it and realized the last update was Nov. 25, 2005.  I guess Maria finally gave up.  I can't even imagine trying to keep up with that.  The best thing for fitting a muslin shell is another person.  You simply cannot do it yourself and have good results.  Good luck...Linda 

          16. User avater
            Becky-book | | #10

            Dear Pearl,

            I went back to your original question and found the pattern number and looked it up so I would have a better idea of what you want to make; looks like the perfect summer top!  Once you get the muslin right you can make lots of different tops from one pattern!!  I noticed that it has a bust dart, does that fit you well? I have three grown daughters and they each had their own fitting difficulties in this area!

            We will get this right eventually!


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