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sleeves pulling

sewphaedra | Posted in Fitting on

It seems like all of the blouses I’ve been making have this same fitting problem and I can’t figure out what it is. When I wear the blouse and reach forward, the sleeves pull tightly at the bicep. My ready-to-wear clothes don’t do this so badly. At first I thought it was an issue with the armscye, but I fiddled with that and no change. Then I thought the shoulders were maybe too broad on the pattern, but I measured them against a blouse that fits and they’re the same. Last night I thought maybe the back of the blouse was too narrow (not enough fabric to release the sleeve/shoulder area forward, if that makes sense) but I have NO IDEA how to give the back more fabric without making it bigger and the neck larger. Help!


  1. SewerDMcG | | #1

    I have this exact same dilemma, it could be two things, your upper arm is bigger than the pattern allows for or you're broad back.  Sandra Betzina in fast fit makes the broad back alteration by drawing a straight line from the center shoulder to the bottom (parallel to grain line), then cut along this line. add half the amount of the alteration you need to the pattern. With the extra fabric on the back shoulder, you can create a dart or ease the fabric to the front. I also use the pivot and slide method for alterations. I highly recommend Fitting Finess and Fast Fit for pattern alterations they are a wealth of information.

    Hope this helps some.

  2. rjf | | #2

    You said you fiddled with the armhole.  Where is the armhole seam when you reach forward?  Is it cutting into your arm?  If so, try cutting it in closer to the front.  What is the shape of the sleeve cap?  Sometimes a flatter, wider cap works better.  Dressy blouse patterns sometimes have a narrow, high cap which makes the blouse or dress look great when you're standing still but are not too comfortable.    rjf

    1. sewphaedra | | #3

      The armhole seam isn't cutting into my arm. I think it's a too-small back, that makes sense given my measurements--I have a big ribcage and small bust for my size. I will try that alteration, although I'm nervous about darting the front at the shoulder because I already have a concave thing going on with a bony shoulder/chest and low bustline, so I'm afraid the dart will emphasize that. But maybe it will help shape better, I will find out!

      1. SewerDMcG | | #4

        The dart is suppose to be in the back.....are you altering the front too?

        1. sewphaedra | | #5

          Oh! I was thinking you added extra width in the back along the shoulder seams, then added it also in the front but darted it to take it up. Now that I write it, it makes no sense. What you say does make sense and I'll give it a shot.

          1. sewphaedra | | #6

            I made an alteration that helped. This blouse is fairly fitted (Vogue 7315, the view with the collar) so I realize it's going to pull a little if I make big movements. Anyway, I let out the back of the set-in sleeve seam as much as I could, that probably added 1/2" to 1" to the back, and that helped tremendously. I'm wondering if I can just do that to all future blouses--sew the back part of the armscye seam narrower. Then I wouldn't have to mess with a dart in the back.

          2. joress | | #7

            You seem to have hit upon the correct alteration--the wider back adjustment. Have someone you trust look at the blouse from behind to determine if the width between the sleeves across the back looks too narrow. The proportion might work better if you do an adjustment for a wider back that does not increase the width of the shoulder or the size of the armhole. If you do it well, the armscye will be the same size in the back as on the sleeve and will fit well without adjusting the sleeve. Fitting Finesse by Nancy Zieman has an easy adjustment and books by Sandra Betzina also have a good explanation on how to do it. On the other hand, it's quite possible that your small adjustment by making smaller seam allowances is just the quick fix that works perfectly for you--good creative thinking!

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