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Upper arm fitting problems

JC2 | Posted in Fitting on


I am stuck on how to adjust patterns for my upper arms.  I have been lifting weights and now none of my clothes–homemade or ready-made fit in the upper arms when I “hug” myself.  The upper backs still seem to fit, no pulling or horizontal/vertical tell-tale lines.

I tried moving the armhole up to be closer to my armpits.  That worked for rasing my arms but I’m still getting pulls on the sleeves in the upper arms.  The pulls seem to occur most from where the sleeve and armsyce meet, around the front to the front of the sleeve in an upward diagonal line.  When I stand with my arms at my sides, there seems to be enough ease in the sleeves and body of the shirts/jackets.

I’ve compared my biceps measurements to the sleeve patterns and they seem to be okay and have enough ease. (but maybe I’m wrong here)

I am also fairly busty, a D cup.  I usually only adjust patterns for this if I want a close fit.  Could this problem be related to the arms in some way I don’t fully understand?

I read through all the posts on this topic, and Fitting Finesse and Fast Fit but none seem to fix the problem.

I’d like to wear something other than sweater sets!

Any suggestions?



  1. Susannah | | #1

    I sometimes have this problem too, and am not sure what the answer is.  I think it might be that even though the amount of ease in the bicep area seems to be okay, it might not be.  I am currently adjusting a top pattern that has reasonably fitted sleeves.  I am slashing the sleeve horizontally and vertically, and widening it in the bicep area.  This is also reducing the height of the sleeve cap a bit, but adding in width (the stitching line along the top of the sleeve from side seam to side seam is the same, but the shape will be a bit different).  I will post the results (when I get around to finishing it!) but in the meantime I would also be interested in anyone's views on how this might work, and if there are any other ways of modifying upper arm dimensions.

    1. Jean | | #2

      I think that reducing the height of the cap would go a long way in solving your problem. Think of the difference between a man's shirt and a tailored jacket.

      1. JC2 | | #3

        Thanks for the suggestion.  I don't make men's clothes.  Are the sleeves caps on men's shirts higher or lower than on their jackets?


        1. Jean | | #4

          Much lower, hardly any cap at all. Somewhere in between is where you'd want to be, I think.

    2. simokon | | #5

      I'm glad you asked this, because I've recently had the same problem.  I'm nine months into a weight lifting program and my sleeves are binding badly, too.

      I haven't got it completely figured out, but I've got reasonable results by both widening the back (vertical slash through the shoulder), even though it appears to still fit, and widening the sleeve.  The back armhole seam looks a little fishy, which is why I'm not sure if I've hit on the right solution yet.

      The odd part is that I didn't get a comfortable fit until I widened the sleeve beyond the amount of ease that should have been necessary.  Supposedly, 2 inches of ease at the bicep should be enough for a set-in sleeve, but I needed almost three.   You might dismiss this as a crackpot theory, but I wonder if a muscular figure just needs more movement ease than an average one (it would explain why widening the back helped so much).  Thoughts?


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