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High Armscye-Range of Motion

Iris_Colo | Posted in Fitting on

Can someone elaborate on the european style higher armscye and how to fit it to achieve 100% range of motion.  For an american brought up on knit polo shirts and less structured clothing, I want the smart looking, tailored fit but no restriction.

Please offer any comments you can on this topic as it also relates to my interst in Victorian clothing and jacket design.

Thanks, Iris


  1. kayl | | #2

    The smaller armscye actually has a good range of motion if properly

    constructed (yes, it's that f-word, fitting, involved). Even though

    it will feel funny to someone used to the loose styles, because it

    is at the anatomical joint, you get good movement.

    I think you can somewhat test this for yourself by putting on ####US style garment with a fitted sleeve and the armscye actually near

    the shoulder point. Raise your arm, and note

    at what point the body of the garment starts rising. Now use a hand

    to pinch out the excess fabric under the arm at the armscye and

    raise the arm that's now "closely fitted", and see when the body starts to rise as you raise your arm.

    The other bonus is that a closer fitting sleeve and bodice visually

    removes pounds by giving you "airspace" between arm and body.

    Take a look at Vogue 7467 vs say, Vogue 2804.

    1. SewNancy | | #3

      I am fitting a tailored jacket  at the moment from a Burda mag pattern.  Will this automatically have the higher armskye? I do notice that the sleeve pattern is higher from underarm line to top of sleevecap.  I have rather narrow shoulders and am always unsure where the seam should really fall.


      1. kayl | | #6

        Automatically have a higher armscye? Maybe, I don't know. Measure the

        armscye in the pattern from the side seam/armscye seam intersection

        straight up (not following the armscye) to the shoulder seam/armscye

        intersection, and you'll get the depth of the armscye. Compare it

        to a US pattern, and I suspect the Burda will be smaller.

        The higher "mountain" in a sleeve pattern is a pretty good sign that

        this is a set-in sleeve designed for a fairly small armscye. However,

        there is a procedure in pattern drafting that I believe is called

        "lifting the sleeve" that slightly flattens the "mountain" and allows

        better range of motion. If the armscye fits you well, but the sleeve

        feels restrictive when you move, you may want to do this to the sleeve


        Is this a one-piece or two piece sleeve? I really prefer two-piece

        sleeves for jackets.

        Another jacket fitting gotcha I've run into is a jacket with a

        small, high armscye that you try to put over a US style loose armscye

        blouse. They just don't quite work together right. <g>

        My personal preference for where a basic set-in sleeve's seam hits me

        on the shoulder is right where you can feel the shoulder joint

        move when you raise your arm, and a bit farther out than that for

        a jacket, because of the padding. I never really did like the

        extended shoulders that were common awhile back... all I could think

        of was Romulan costuming from Star Trek Next Generation. <g>


        1. SewNancy | | #7

          Thankyou.  I am about to make a muslin from my pattern and will use the info you've given me to help fitting.  Yes, it is a 2 piece sleeve.  Do you do any steaming of the seams to ease and stretch as I have seen in some couture books? 


          1. Iris_Colo | | #8

            I've ordered a book about pattern drafting the european way called:

            European Cut by Elizabeth Allemong

            A little French, German, Italian & English ... combined methods of fitting.  I'll review it once I've received it to let you all know about the book.

          2. SewNancy | | #9

            I am definitely interested in your opinion on this book.  Where did you get it?


          3. Iris_Colo | | #11

            Here's the website for the book.  http://www.vestisbooks.com/about.htm

            I got really quick service - I think the book arrived two days after I ordered it.

          4. FitnessNut | | #12

            Have you had much of a chance to get into this book yet? It looks interesting, but I'm wondering how different it is from what I learned at school in Montreal. My slopers do have ease, but are not the same as those in the American books at all. And the pants definitely have a European cut. Some, but not all, of our slopers came from a book published by Esmod, the Paris based design school. I have no idea as to the origins of the other slopers, but they are quite different from those in books such as Helen Joseph Armstrong's. I have also used slopers from a book by Winifred Aldrich, a British author, and they seem to fit quite well also, particularly larger figures.

            I'm really interested in how you fare with this book. Please keep us updated.


          5. kayl | | #10

            Depends on the fabric I'm working with. Wools, some silks shape nicely.

            Polyester won't budge, and you wind up with wierd shapes if you try

            to steam and stretch or ease.

        2. Polly1 | | #13

          Can you elaborate on your "lifitng the sleeve" procedure?Thanks, Polly

        3. SewNancy | | #14

          Dear Kay,

          We had a discussion a while back about high cut armskyes.  I made my jacket and I the sleeve is perfect, hangs

          beautifully  but  I can feel the armskye in the jacket.  I trimmed between the notches and  I even ended up lowering the bottom of the armskye a bit to ease the fit.  It still has full range of motion but I do feel the sleeve seam particularly in the bottom front.  I want to make the jacket again in another fabric.  Do you have any fitting suggestions.  By the way, I did not feel this in the two muslins I made and the jacket is in a thicker boucle so this may be part of the problem.  I want to make the jacket in wool so will want to wear more than a tank top under it! 


          1. kayl | | #15

            My guess is that the thickish boucle is why you're feeling the

            seam. I'd scoop that area just a smidge more... maybe 1/8",

            and see how things hang and feel. Turn of the cloth makes

            a big difference in fit sometimes.

            When you go to the next jacket you might want to check the

            front and back armscye lengths again... the back armscye is

            supposed to be 1/2" longer than the front, in order to be


            I have one arm that's fairly forward -- if you looked at

            me in a top view, my shoulders are more like --O-

            I need to reposition the armscye on that forward shoulder

            side just a bit, bringing it outwards on teh back of the shoulder

            and inwards on the front of the shoulder. Otherwise, one

            armscye fits fine, and the forward shoulder one "feels the seam".


          2. SewNancy | | #16

            Thanks for the advice.  I was afraid to lower it more.  Next one I will lower it a little more and see if that works.  Also will recheck measurements.  I have one shoulder that it is lower past the shoulder bone due to a separated shoulder from an  old accident.  I lower the shoulder seam and the under seam and balance it with a thicker shoulder pad, but I learned to add the padding only past the bone  as the bone is actually higher than the other shoulder.  Do you know how long this took me to figure out!!   My daughter has a digital camera and I think that I will have her take a picture of me from the above and see if possibly  I have the same problem. I have a very erect back but I know that my shoulder rounds a bit too.  I have learned that you really have to stare at yourself alot to figure out all the problems!!


          3. kayl | | #17

            Another way to figure out if one shoulder is farther forward...

            hold a yardstick so it hits your shoulder joints in front of

            your upper chest (about where you're feeling the seamline),

            and see if the yardstick is hitting evenly and parallel to your

            upper chest wall, or if it's slanted, and not hitting evenly.


          4. SewNancy | | #18

            I am going to try that.  I realize that I have problems in sleeveless tops even though there seems to be enough room but  it binds in  lower front  on both sides so perhaps  both shoulders are a little foward.


            Edited 6/18/2004 12:26 pm ET by Nancy

  2. Barbaran8 | | #4

    Iris -

    Go to a riding apparel store and try on the jackets for English riders - they have a higher armsceye so that the rider can release their hands forward when the horse is jumping a fence without splitting out the back. Quick and easy way to see how it works...

    1. Iris_Colo | | #5

      I hadn't thought of that... great idea.  I'll look around for a shop like that locally.  Thanks

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