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question re: altering shoulder seams

blackkatz | Posted in Fitting on

I wish to create a blouse but am having problems with the fit.  I created a muslin but it droops under the arms in such a way that the hem does not hang straight.  The armhole seems to fit properly.  Does this mean the shoulder seams need to be deeper?  If yes I assume I will have to reposition the armhole and adjust the hemline?



  1. SewNancy | | #1

    Dear Black Katz

    Do you have sloping shoulders?  this would create extra fabric under the arm.  Try pulling up the shoulder and pin new slope and see if this helps.


    1. blackkatz | | #2

      Thanks!  What worries me is that when I pin a deeper shoulder seam the armhole is too small.  I don't want to re-cut the armhole and discover I have made a mistake.    I am trying to think the problem through but my solution seems to throw the hem line out of whack.

      1. ElonaM | | #3

        If you stitch a deeper shoulder seam for a sloping shoulder adjustment, you have to dip the bottom of the armscye the SAME amount. If you don't, you see, the armhole will be smaller by the amount you have lowered the shoulder seam, and then the sleeve will be too large to fit in.

        BTW, what pattern are you using?

        1. blackkatz | | #4

          I'm at the office right now and I don't remember.  I think I puchased a McCalls pattern.

          1. ElonaM | | #5

            In my long experience with sewing, I have found the fitting of McCall's and (especially) Simplicity to be crude in general: Big, bigger, and biggest! They seem to figure that if you have large hips, why, then you must also have big shoulders, long arms, and even big wrists, for goodness' sake.

            Making a muslin of your intended garment is always a good idea, but with these two pattern companies, it's essential. For subtler grading (the differences between sizes), you might want to try Burda or one of the independents, like Loes Hinse or Textile Studio, or Jalie (a Canadian company). These get outstanding reviews at other sewing sites.

          2. blackkatz | | #6

            THANK YOU!!!!  I have found the arms to be too long and the neck to be too big on this pattern as well.  I haven't even begun to think about fixing those problems.  When I tried on the muslin all that extra fabic under the arms was the first thing my eye went to.  Besides, I assumed I would have to fix the shape of the shoulder before I could fix the neck size and arm length.  I think I will scrap this pattern and go look for one that fits better.  Thank you again for the information.

          3. ElonaM | | #7

            Right on! If you get a Burda, remember that you don't just choose a size and go with it. These patterns are really multi-sized, and they have a terrific, very detailed measurement chart. They even usually want your neck measurement at its base (really quite important for comfort). So, you do your measuring, using their chart. What you will probably find is that you are more than one size: Your neck will be one number (your shoulder is the same size as your neck, BTW), your bust another size, your back waist length another, and your hips still another. So what you do when you trace off your pattern (to preserve the original, right?) is to taper smoothly from one size line to another, using a ruler or French curve, or doing it by eye, if you're good at that. Also, Burda is designed for people 5' 6". If you're more or less than that, you will need to shorten or lengthen the skirt or pants by the right amount.

            In that way, you wind up, right off the bat, with a semi-customized pattern that will already fit you pretty well. After that, you fine-tune it, for example, by narrowing the shoulders slightly or changing the shoulder slope.

          4. SewNancy | | #11

            I have also found Burda to have better fit, but I also , as a D cup use my upper bust measurement to pick pattern size.  It fits shoulder and neck much better. 

      2. rjf | | #8

        You could trace the armhole from the pattern and then when you've adjusted the shoulder seam, place the tracing at the end of the new seam.  That way the armhole doesn't change, only  where it is changes.  Just be careful not to change the grainline.  That would be the simplest way for me.           rjf

        1. blackkatz | | #9

          Thanks for reminding me to watch the grainline.  You know, I like sitting at the machine and doing the actual sewing, but I don't always feel confident with the adjustments to the fit.  I suppose I should take some classes but I haven't been successful at fitting that around my work schedule.

      3. SewNancy | | #10

        I have one lower shoulder and what I have to do is lower the underarm the total of the of the front and back reduction, ie. 1/4" means 1/2 lower under the arm , I also usually make a thicker shoulder pad and the combination of the two eliminates the angled wrinkle that I get in the back shoulder area.   It is scary at first, but it really works and the fit is much better.

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