Monday, February 23, 2009

Tutorial: Altering a Sleeve for a Forward Shoulder

A few days ago, a PR member sent me a PM about altering a forward sleeve. She needed a bit more info, and I thought it would be easier to answer with pictures so I decided to create a tutorial for it.

Bear in mind: WHAT I'M ILLUSTRATING IS BODY SPECIFIC FOR MY FIGURE. This may not work on someone else's figure, so it would be prudent to check out my slide show to see if my figure is similar to yours. I'm working off of a 42-year old body with forward shoulders and broad upper back. Long arms, long legs, short waist, rectangular torso with not a whole lot of waist definition, 5' 7" in height, somewhat slender, hollow chest, full bust (propped up most of the time with a Wonder Bra LOL), and narrow shoulders.

So, knowing that, let's proceed...

TUTORIAL: Altering a Sleeve for Forward Shoulder


Step 1 - Alter the bodice.

Let's assume it's a 1/2" forward shoulder alteration. Remove 1/2" from the front as shown and add 1/2" in the back as shown. Another option to consider is moving the entire shoulder seam 1/2" forward. In the pic below I'm tapering to 0 at the neckline rather than moving the entire shoulder seam forward. Whatever works best.


Step 2 - Examine the sleeve pattern. Most sleeve patterns I see are like the one below and symetrical. If this is the case, the sleeve will need to be altered for a better fit since this draft does not mirror a typical figure. Draw a vertical line from the center of the sleeve cap at the top to the middle of the hem at the bottom. Draw a horizontal line perpendicular to the vertical line across the sleeve right above the notches. Also draw in a hash mark on the horizontal line a 1/2" away from the vertical line toward the front of the sleeve as shown.


Step 3 - Cut the pattern on the horizontal line. Move the upper pattern forward a 1/2" so the vertical line on the top piece is aligned with the hash mark.



Step 4 - True the cutting lines. Normally I don't true my lines this way except for sleeves. Flatten/true the back as shown, bubble and true the front as shown. The sleeve is now asymetrical reflecting a true body shape.



Normally, this would be the end of it, but not for me...what else is new. I measure the SEAMLINE of the front and back of the sleeve separately as shown below. Subtract the seam allowances from your measurements.



Then I measure the front and back armholes separately on the bodice pieces. Subtract the seam allowances from these measurements.



Now I make comparisons of the front sleeve seamline and front bodice armhole seamline and the back sleeve seamline and back bodice armhole seamline as shown on my "math" sheet below.

If there is more than a 1/2" difference, I adjust the sleeve. Usually there is no problem on the back, but there is too much ease on the front to the point where it would look gathered. Therefore, using the above example, the front sleeve has 3/4" excess of fabric over that 1/2" of preferred ease. So I reduce the ease in the front of the sleeve as shown below. Draw a line (shown in green) 3/4" above the horizontal line.

Slash the green line and overlap it to the blue line to reduce the ease as shown below.



True the cutting line as shown below:



And that completes the alteration. I do this for almost every sleeve. I hope this information is helpful to one of my body twins out there.

18 comments:

Rhoto said...

Well, the shoulder is probably the only "body twin" part we have in common, :( ... I have a VERY hard time putting on a jacket!! Have to raise my arm to vertical. THANKS for the tutorial!!
Soft hugs,
Rhonda in Montreal (PR)

Sigrid said...

Great explanation.

Leora Louise said...

Learn something new everyday. I've never seen anything about altering the sleeve before. You also move the shoulder seam forward, correct?

joannely said...

This just makes so much sense for we women who already make a back alteration for roundness and that the sleeve shape should follow...Hooray! As seamstress working with older women and women who have spent a lifetime over a desk, I do the same alterations but now the sleeve will look even better! Thank you so much!!!

Cennetta said...

Very helpful tutorial. I'm bookmarking it. ;-)

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Maricou said...

I've just discovered that I have forward shoulders and this tutorial will be very useful in my quest to better fit
Thanks for it

Anonymous said...

Oh, hot damn! I'd figured out most of this on my own, but not a good way to correct the difference between new sleeve cap seam length and new armhole seam length. The "manipulate the string" technique from another tutorial gave a decent result, but I look forward to trying out how this one rotates the very top of the shoulder.

Kate said...

This is genius, thank you so much for posting!

TracyKM said...

Thanks for the clear directions! This is easier than pin, baste, try on, mark, unbaste, pin, baste, repeat...
I've just learned that I have forward shoulders and a broad (upper) back after years of thinking my back was narrow (below my bust it is). I did figure out moving the shoulder seam back on my own, but then it affected the neck edges and I wasn't sure what to do about that.

Sewing Princess said...

I will try your tutorial tonight...I haven't been able to fix my forward shoulder issue yet and this tutorial seems like what I needs

gentlydowntheseam said...

Thank you, Kat!! This tutorial for forward shoulder alteration is really helpful and you've explained it really well.

Thank you!

Ghada said...

I'm not sure this is the right place to ask a question, but I'm about to buy a dress( http://www.6pm.com/badgley-mischka-sequin-off-shoulder-gown-gold?zfcTest=mat%3A1 ) and I don't want the off-shoulder look. Do you think a good seamstress can add cap-sleeves? or alter is such a way that the shoulders are covered? I'm probably going to shorten it too

Bonny Marche said...

Thank you for this tutorial. It has been very helpful to me. After making the adjustments on my sleeve pattern I have got to a stage where I don't know quite where the shoulder seam is. Can I just fold the sleeve pattern in half, matching up the armhole seams and will the shoulder line be on the fold? Or is it the slanting line on your diagram above.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU- the clearest explaination I have found