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shortening the shoulder on a ready made garment

nina67 | Posted in Fitting on

I have a readymade blouse set with long sleeves but the shoulder is too long and effects the fit.  I want to shorten the shoulder and then reset the sleeves.  What adjustments need to be made to the bodice and armhole before resetting the sleeve.  I


  1. woodruff | | #1

    It depends on the amount of change you need.  According to the wonderful Singer book on the perfect fit (google it), if ithe change is under a half inch, you can often get away with almost no change to the sleeve head, and none to the bodice, other than chopping off the extra (in a subtle way, of course).

  2. stillsuesew | | #2

    I have done this many times.  If you have quite a bit to take off, it is better to completely remove the sleeve.  Then you can trace the armhole edge on a piece of paper, cut it out and use the pattern to cut a new armhole.  Don't forget to allow for seam allowances.  If you are removing quite a bit you may need to take it in under the arms also so the sleeve will fit back in.  As the previous  poster said, if you are removing just a little, you can take out about half of the sleeve (the top half) and cut off the excess tapering from nothing at the lower edge.  When you do this you are making the armseye (sleeve opening on the garment) bigger and the sleeve may not fit back in.  You may get around this by taking the shoulder seam  in a little - this works especially well for people with sloping shoulders.  Or, if the sleeve has lots of ease, it may go back in quite easily.

  3. KharminJ | | #3

    Hi, Nina!

    Be sure you make careful tracings and measurements that fit - *before* you cut anything! The conflicting geometry of an armscye and it's corresponding sleeve  can get pretty far out-of-whack very easily ~

    Because of the beautiful french cuffs, I attempted to take 2" out of the top of blouse sleeves, once.   OMG! What a mess that would have been, if I'd gotten scissors-happy!  I ended up putting it back exactly the way it had been, rather than mess with all the fitting changes!    On the other hand, your issue sounds much simpler - I hope so!

    Good luck - post pics, if you can!

    Bright Blessings and Happy Monday!


    1. nina67 | | #4

      Hello Kharmin

      I am just getting back into sewing after a few years off pursuing my career.  The shoulder has to be shortened at least 1 and half inches (3 cms) on each side (I live in Australia so we use cms here), which is quite a lot.  The shirt is a bit too big for me also, so I can take the opportunity to change the bodice for a better fit.  I normally wouldnt take the trouble but this shirt is linen with pretty embroidery and I want to wear it.

      I completely ruined a previous shirt when I got scissor happy before thinking things through, and that is why I posted my question on the gatherings website so I wouldnt make another mistake.  . 

      I will take your advice and take a tracing of the armscye before I 'cut' anything. 

      thank u for your kind wishes.



      1. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #5

        I am decidedly NOT an alteration expert.   In my opinion, though, Krarmin and Sue have given you good advice.  I would be tempted to completely take the sleeve out and also the side seam of the blouse, so you can lay the blouse out flat, still joined by the shoulder seams.  Then if I had a pattern or muslin that fit well, I'd use that as a guide both to mark the changes to the shoulder length and the fitting alterations to the body of the blouse. 

        However you end up doing it, just proceed with caution.  I love embroidered linen and understand completely your drive to salvage this blouse.   I echo the request for pictures. 

        This project reminds me of some of our "old" conversations here on Gatherings.  (That's a good thing.......  :^))  Good Luck!

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