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Moving shoulder seams

starzoe | Posted in Fitting on

I have been sewing for 50 years, but now I have a problem that needs an answer.  As we age, our body shape changes.  I now find that the neckline of t-shirts, blouses, etc. tends to ride up with wearing (probably due to rounded shoulders).  I know I can move the shoulder seams.

After thinking it over for some time, I have these questions:  do I move the seam to the front, or the back?  Both seem to make sense, hence the question! 

This question has probably been answered sometime in Threads Magazine but can’t find it.  A reference would be appreciated.


  1. woodruff | | #1

    There are a bunch of suggestions for the "forward shoulder adjustment" at http://www.patternreview.com


    I don't know if you have to be a member to see these, though. If so, I think the signup for basic membership may still be free. However, just typing "forward shoulder adjustment" into the google search box should give you lots of potential help.

    Since I have the problem, my usual solution is simply to trim 1/4" to 3/8" from the front shoulder line and just tape it to the back shoulder seam allowance. This makes the back armscye longer than the front, as it should be anyhow.

    Edited 2/7/2006 8:03 pm by woodruff

    1. starzoe | | #4

      Yes, I think that is the solution.  Thanks for it.  I would not take advantage of the $29.95 membership from Pattern Review though.  Thanks again. 

  2. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #2

    The usual adjustment for a forward rolling shoulder is to shorten the front shoulder seam and lengthen the back shoulder seam. To get a perfect fit, I suggest you make a muslin of the shirt in question with wide, generous seam allowances at the shoulder. While wearing the shirt, release the shoulder seam and allow the fabric to relax into the appropriate position. (It helps to have a fitting partner.) Be sure the new shoulder seam is a straight line from the shoulder tip to the center of the neck (as seen from the side), Note: that sounds a bit strange, but if your shoulders roll forward, usually the neck is forward thrusting as well. This technique will show you exactly where and how much your shoulder seams need to be altered.

    1. starzoe | | #3

      Thanks for the reply.  However, that is not the problem, the problem is that the front neck works its way upwards.  I guess I didn't make the question as clear as it could have been.

      1. mem | | #5

        The vreason this is happening is that the distance from the base of your neck at the back to the hem is now longer than it used to be as it is curved rather than the straight line it used to be .You can lenthen the back by adding a bit to each shoulder seam and taking some off the front or if the curve is large cut from about 1" below the neck line (on the back pattern piece )across the shoulder to the armhole and the open up the back center line so as to make it longer specifically where it needs to be longer which is over your hump bit. This will then stop the hump pulling the front of your t shirt up and causing the problem you describe . Thuis is counterintuitive but it works so give it a go .

  3. SewNancy | | #6

    I have to do this too. It can often be a combination of things. First do a rounded upper back adjustment and see if that does it by itself. Then when I fit the pattern I add extra tissue to the shoulder seam and just eyball the center of my shoulder and move the seam foward. This is a judgement call. If you also have a foward shoulder you may need to add to back of upper armshole edge on sleeve and to scoop out the front armskye. I had the hardest time figuring this out because I have an erect back and slightly rounded upper back and foward shoulder! Age! Also, make sure that the back neck edge is where it is supposed to be.
    But, anyway good luck to you. Oh, staring at yourself in the mirror with the pattern pinned on is helpful. or get someone to take pictures of the back, side and front.

    1. starzoe | | #7

      Thanks for the information.  You are right, this is a judgement call.  I would think that an upper rounded back would make the front neckline drop forward.  On the other hand, adding to the back shoulder seam makes sense too!  I'll get onto it next week (when it is going to rain again).

      1. SewNancy | | #8

        Actually, it doesn't since you need extra fabric to cover the curve it has to come from somewhere and hence the pulling to the back.

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