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shirt back pull-lines below yoke

cat42 | Posted in Fitting on

Hi all, it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in this forum. I have a fitting question, regarding a men’s-style shirt with slightly dropped shoulder, back yoke, and pleat in shirt body at yoke seam. I’ve already adjusted the yoke for high back round shoulder, about 1″ below neckline, and adjusted the shoulder seamline for forward shoulder.

I notice that my shirts have diagonal pull-lines on the back body, from yoke seam near the pleat to underarm. The exact nature of these pull lines is different depending on the placement of the pleat. If it is near center back, the pull lines go from the pleat to the underarm. if pleat is near the armhole, they also extend down the back of the sleeve.

I also notice the yoke is tight when I pull my arms forward, but no horizontal pull lines.

My first thought is that I need to extend the underarm extension on the shirt back (and on sleeve), but also wonder if there is a length problem on the back.

I can’t take a photo so I’ve drawn a couple sketches. Also, I should note that the front fits well, without pull-lines.


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    One expert said, "The pull lines point to the problem," and in this case, it looks as if it's the armscye and/or sleeve fit. 

    Many patterns have a very low armscye that restricts rather than improves arm mobility, and nearly all have shoulders that are way too wide for me, resulting in sleeves that tug every time I move my arm.  I make the shoulders nearly an inch narrower on each side and raise the armscye about an inch, too.  "European style" shirt patterns are usually cut this way from the start.

     A search of the archives for "fitting sleeves" might turn up some good suggestions--there was a long discussion on that last year.

  2. sewelegant | | #2

    Like so many posters, I too have been on an endless (it seems) search to figure out my fitting challenges.  In looking at your drawings it appears that you are OK with the shoulder line?  The problem is all the wrinkles beneath the yoke.  I think I would tackle this by raising the armcye, as suggested, and making sure I have enough Full Bust Adjustment to take care of what may be pulling the fabric.  If you have made the FBA on the front, have you also done one with the back pattern piece?  You may need more width in the back.

    I am editing this because I just reread your post and you have said this is a drop shoulder shirt so my thought is:  The armhole is supposed to be low on these because there is no dart - so, I would still attempt adding more width first and see where that leaves you.  The pleats may be hiding the fact that you need more room at the bust and middle level.

    Edited 11/10/2009 1:07 pm by sewelegant

    Edited 11/10/2009 1:14 pm by sewelegant

    1. cat42 | | #4

      Thanks very much.Yes, the shoulder is only slightly dropped, about 3/4" below normal. The bottom of the armscye is about 1.5" below normal, which may be too low. But I think I'll play with width before I raise the bottom of the armhole.I have already done a bust enlargement on the front, and narrowed the front above the armhole because of forward shoulders. And I adjusted the shoulder line for forward shoulders too. And I did high round back adjustment, adding 1/4" length below back neckline at CB, tapering to nothing at armhole. I've noticed, tho, that my back is more rounded than it was when I made that adjustment, so I think I need to do another adjustment, just below the high round back, perhaps another 1/2".Because the yoke seam pulls when I reach forward, I think the back could be widened some.Another thing I've noticed with this pattern is that the sideseam is too far back at the armhole, but correctly positioned at waist and hip. So I think I need to fix that. Not sure whether to just extend back armhole, or to do a combo of that and widening between armholes. And then should I also move side seam on the front? Or perhaps the only adjustment should be on the front?It doesn't seem like the front is pulling the back at the armhole. The front is nicely loose. This is why I was originally stumped by the pull lines (wrinkles) beneath the yoke to the underarm. It seems like it has something to do with the pleat, because no matter where the pleat is positioned, the wrinkles extend to the pleat, as well as to the armhole.

      1. sewelegant | | #5

        I still think your only adjustment may need to be on the main back pattern piece since the side seam at the bustline does not seem to have enough room to fall in the proper alignment.  That could be throwing the pleat off because it is using fabric intended for it to fall properly to be forced to fill in for the needed width.  Just remember that you need to add to the sleeve width the amount you add to the back width or the sleeve will not have the proper shoulder seam length to fit well and if you force it to fit it will pull the bodice out of alignment.

        If you want the shirt to be narrower at the hemline than all that widening would make it, just taper it below the waistline (or at the level where you no longer need the room) back to a width you prefer. 

        A good book to read on fitting adjustments is the Palmer Pletsch book Fit For Real People. It has a wealth of good information.


        1. cat42 | | #6

          Thanks. Yes, I have that Palmer Pletsch book - I used to live in Portland Oregon where they live and have attended workshops there. Very good info, but I didn't see my particular problem illustrated in the book...I plan to play with this shirt pattern this weekendt, and will let all know how my adventure fared.

      2. Gloriasews | | #7

        I'm no expert, but I agree with you.  It does look like you need to extend the back armhole, possibly cutting the curve deeper (although you would also have to add that amount to the back of the sleeve & underarm), & extending the back fabric under the arm (as you did with the back crotch of your pants).  That should give you the ease that you need, as well as aligning the side seams so that they hang perpendicular.  Does this make sense to you?  Then, you can follow the advice of the other poster, if the shirt is way too full near the bottom.  (I'm assuming that you're working on your muslin).  Let us know how your shirt turns out, please. 

        1. cat42 | | #8

          It's funny you mention my posting about my pants and the back crotch, because the other day when I was updating the pdf of the pant draping instructions, I realized my underarm problem and the pant crotch were related. it's made me want to drape a bodice. I did that years ago, when I was still slender....but now I'm due again.So if I do a draping, it will be awhile before I get the shirt finished, but I'll try to remember to let you-all know how it turned out. And I may post my draping process too, if it is different from the Threads article from a year or so ago.Cat

          1. Gloriasews | | #9

            Good luck with the bodice draping.  I should do the same, but I haven't had many bodice fitting problems yet.  Do post your tutorial when you have it done, as the pants one is very helpful.


  3. stillsuesew | | #3

    I agree that you might need more room across the back both in the yoke and the body of the garment.

  4. Palady | | #10

    Coming in several days after your posting.  You may have already resolved your issue. 

    As I looked over your images, the thought occuring to me was to address the yoke to back seam line.  The "pull" seems to show there is insufficient ease after the 2 sections are joined.  Do you think it would help to curve it to a varying degree?  Similar to convexing it.  How much would be the next hurdle. 

    Your sketches are great!


    1. cat42 | | #11

      When I first noticed the problem, I thought it might be caused by two things: underarm issues (width), and length issues in the yoke area. I pretty much know how to solve the underarm problem, but not sure whether the length needs to be added in the yoke (high round back adjustment), or in the body of the shirt. Or if length needs to be moved from the yoke to the body (by curving the yoke-to-body seam) as you suggest.So I will play with all of these and see what works. Bt right now I've gotten busy with making Christmas presents, so it will be awhile before I get back to this shirt.Cat

  5. cat42 | | #12

    I thought I'd post an update on my learnings about my original problem. I can't get this new Gatherings software to behave (with regard to the urls on sleeve drafting), so  sorry if this doesn't make sense. If the links don't work, delete any characters after 'html' on the leenas link,, and any text after "block" on the burda link.

    I draped a bodice sloper and then drafted a sleeve to fit it. I followed Kathleen Cheethams instructions in a recent Threads magazine for the bodice, but her sleeve didn't fit me. Instead I found a combination of a Burdastyle.com article for the sleeve cap, and a leenas.com article for the lower part of the sleeve including the elbow dart. I can highly recommend this method.



    Learnings from the sloper: my back is 1/4" wider than patterns for my size, and my back armscye is 1.25" longer than my front armscye, with some of that length in the vertical part of the armhole and the remainder in the underarm extension. when I transfered these learnings to my shirt pattern, and redrafted a sleeve to fit the new armscye, I got a really good fit, and the shirt no longer pulls backward off my shoulder after moving my arms. And the pull lines at the yoke seam are gone.


    I'm attaching a sketch of my new sleeve, compared with a standard sleeve. They are very different!





    1. Rabia | | #13

      >applause< I am always GLAD

      >applause< I am always GLAD to hear when a fitting problem has been happily resolved; gawd, just thinking about fitting problems gives me a TENSION headache! Part of the reason I don't do anything like as much sewing as I'd like is due to "fear of fitting"! I read ALL articles on fitting avidly, trying to get a grasp of the principles so I can get over this!

  6. KharminJ | | #14


    Nepa, your crx of the URL for Leena's didn't show up, let's see if this one works ~


    The site itself is a freakin' gold-mine of sewing information! Thank you, Cat! And very glad to hear that you got your shirt to work....

    Happy Saturday, all!


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