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Proper Fitting for a Forward Shoulder

Threads magazine - 169 - Oct./Nov. 2013

While I was attending life drawing class in college, the professor actually drew on the model in brightly colored grease pencils, showing the correlation between the bones, muscles, and body shape. Never did I think that, years later, I’d refer to these concepts as the basis for fitting alterations and fixes to garment construction – especially when it comes to proper fitting for a forward shoulder.

As I work with women around the country at fitting workshops, I often see sleeves suffering from drag lines and hear complaints about jackets not staying in place as they’re worn. These problems are caused by shoulders that rotate forward. As a result, blouses and jackets tend to fall back on the shoulders. The wearer keeps adjusting the garment by pulling it forward, only to have it fall back in a few moments.

The solution in two steps

With ready-to-wear garments, the fix for a forward shoulder problem can require major alterations, but with garments you sew, changes can be made before construction—and the fix is easy.

A forward shoulder adjustment is a two-step process. It requires more than simply moving a shoulder seam. The key to achieving a good fit is in positioning the shoulder seam and the sleeve cap to correspond with your shoulders.

Before providing the solution, I’ll explain how to diagnose and understand the problem. Then, I’ll show you how to make changes to your patterns that help your garment sit on your shoulders correctly.

Diagnose the problem

Put on a commercial T-shirt, stand sideways, and study yourself in a mirror. Where does the shoulder seam fall?

If you have a forward shoulder, the shoulder seam often falls toward the back of your shoulder while your shoulder bones curve toward the front. Alternatively, you may see…

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Previous: Video: Quick Tips – How to Adjust Shoulders Next: Fix Shoulder Width and Sleeve Length in One Alteration


  1. user-7669417 | | #1

    boy was this article a revelation to me! for years i struggled with altering 1) broad back, 2) wide shoulders, and 3) forward shoulders. the solution was soooo easy! but now as i age i also have to work on another problem....dowagers hump. just a little one but with all the alterations in place i can say that my dresses and shirts truly fit better. thanx!

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