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Alterations
broad back, narrow shoulders, large arms
Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/24/07
Posts: 512
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Date: 8/30/07 7:41 PM

I have recently discovered that part of my fitting problems is a result of having a broad back. I also have very narrow shoulders and very large upper arms. I tried inserting one inch wide strips on both sides of the back bodice and making darts in the back shoulder seams so they would still match the front shoulder seams. It seemed to help the fit in the back but, because of increasing the width of the upper sleeve, there was a huge amount of fabric under the arm. I need the extra length in the armhole to be able to fit the enlarged sleeve. Also, the shoulder seam needs to be taken in even more than I have already done. I have narrowed the shoulder from a size fourteen to a size ten. I added half an inch at the side seams of the size fourteen for the upper bodice and the hips. The amount added at the upper bodice was to accomodate the enlarged sleeve. My question is does anyone have a suggestion about the alterations I should be making, or is there a style of pattern that would accomodate these fitting problems? Again, I need a wide back with narrow shoulders and large upper arms. Thanks for any suggestions.

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Elaine

Linda G
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Linda G
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Minnesota USA
Member since 11/11/06
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In reply to Elaine Dougan


Date: 8/30/07 8:04 PM

Have you bought the book Fit for Real People. I think it is the best book there is.

Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/24/07
Posts: 512
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In reply to Linda G


Date: 8/30/07 9:26 PM

I haven't got that book, but I do have their pants book. I find that I am not very fond of tissue fitting, and I imagine that they use that method in both their books. However, I could use their alteration suggestions without using the tissue. I was hoping that someone with similar fitting issues could make some suggestions.

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Elaine

xtreme1
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xtreme1
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AUSTRALIA
Member since 7/23/07
Posts: 180
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Date: 8/30/07 10:13 PM

If your back is not broad by pattern standards across the upper (near shoulders) part, you could put a yoke on the back pattern and then a pleat or two on the bodice where it attaches to the yoke. If your back is broad across the upper back I think you made a good alteration. However, as you say, the problem is still not resolved as far as keeping the shoulders narrowed but getting the back width you require. Depending on how much width you need to add, but keeping the narrowed shoulder seam unchanged, could you redraw the armhole curve just on the back pattern piece to make it wider? Would this give you enough extra width? You would have to check what change this may necessitate to the sleeve head.

If you need more width than the above suggestion will give you may have to do a cut and slide of part of the armhole and move it outwards half the required amount and redraw your cutting line from this new width back up to the unaltered width of the shoulder seam. If you don't understand what I'm saying here try Google for better instructions - I had a minute off from work and just hopped on here and saw your post - don't have the time to go looking further afield at the moment.

You may have already tried this. Just a thought. I'm about to trial this in reverse. I need my upper back area to be narrower than the pattern but I don't want the shoulder seam to change so I'm going to redraw the armhole curve more inwards on the back.

xtreme1

Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/24/07
Posts: 512
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In reply to xtreme1


Date: 8/31/07 0:06 AM

Thanks for the suggestion about the yoke. I will remeasure my back and see if a narrow yoke might help. My biggest problem right now with the alterations I have done is to get rid of the excess fabric under the arm and still be able to fit the sleeve into the reduced armhole. I cannot reduce the size of the sleeve as I need all the width. I may have to slash and spread the sleeve so as to keep the armscye the same size. I do not want to reduce the height of the sleeve if I can avoid it. I think I am going to have to play around with redrawing the armscye and the sleeve and then see how they compare. This is not fun, but I am not about to give up.

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Elaine

xtreme1
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xtreme1
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Date: 8/31/07 4:11 AM

Just a point about adding a yoke. It would have to be long enough so that any pleats/tucks would hang properly. If you made a shallow yoke, depending of course on where you are broad, including possible prominent shoulder blades, the pleats may open up and not sit nicely and create an ugly rounded look.

I'm far from a genius in these matters but if you broadened the back pattern in the manner you described, wouldn't you just be able to add to the back seamline of the sleeve so it matched the increase in bodice width at the back. Having said that I suppose there is a limit to how much you could add to the sleeve in this way without unbalancing it. Maybe you could cut and spread the sleeve head equally front and back and redraw wider seamlines at the sleeve underarm back down to the original at the wrist. I've never done this - just thoughts. I suppose a muslin will tell you what you have to do here. Once you get it right you could use this as a template for future set-in sleeve patterns and that would be worth it. Good luck!

xtreme1

Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/24/07
Posts: 512
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Date: 8/31/07 11:38 AM

Broad Back
Slash down from midpoint of shoulder to bottom
of armscye and across. Spread pattern the desired amount. Redraw side seam and shoulder dart. (The new dart will be larger than the original one.)

I just found this and think it might help with my problem. Because the horizontal slash goes across the bodice to a spot just below the armscye it does not alter the length of the armscye. There was a diagram with the explanation but it did not appear when I copied and pasted. I hit post before I gave the information re my source. I found this alteration with a diagram on the New Mexico State University site.
-- Edited on 8/31/07 11:45 AM --

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Elaine

OP Gal
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OP Gal  Friend of PR
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Kansas USA
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Date: 8/31/07 10:54 PM

I have the same problem, so I know what you're wrestling with. I just got through taking Sarah Veblin's sleeve and armscye class here on PR, and came to the realization that I'll probably need to split a lot of sleeves so I can add fabric to go over the bicep and still get the sleeve cap to fit in the armscye. She advocates a seam down the center, but I can't imagine that looking like many RTW blouses and tops I've seen. I think putting a seam on the back, like a jacket two piece sleeve may be a better way to go. You might want to think about that.

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If I sewed any slower, I wouldn't be sewing at all. -- Kellie R.

Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
Advanced Beginner
British Columbia CANADA
Member since 1/24/07
Posts: 512
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In reply to OP Gal


Date: 9/1/07 11:31 AM

After rereading my last post, I realize that it is not going to help with the excess underarm fabric. I think the only way to go is to split the sleeve. Having a second seam, as in a jacket, would help but might still not provide enough room. I am beginning to think that the second seam down the center might not be such a bad idea. It could perhaps be made to look like a planned design feature; pleat, slot seam, strip of textured fabric, something interesting. I am not particularly creative. Perhaps the only solution is to lose forty pounds and hope it would all come off the upper arm. I guess another option would be to use a different style of sleeve, but I am not fond of loose feminine type sleeves. I want a fitted sleeve that fits in the armhole without wrinkles or excess fabric in the bodice under the arm. I hope someone can come up with a solution that so far is not apparent to me. Is there another style of garment that is attractive and accomodates narrow shoulders, broad back and large upper arms?
Edited to correct spelling.
-- Edited on 9/1/07 11:33 AM --

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Elaine

Debbie Cook
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Debbie Cook
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Date: 9/1/07 12:32 PM

What IS your actual bicep measurement? Your definition of "very large" may not match mine.

Also, do you have a photo to share of the garment on you. It's a lot easier to diagnose problems/solutions when we can actually see where the issues are on your particular body. You can crop out your face, etc. Just be sure the garment is photographed from a reasonable distance so we can see the whole effect. IOW, don't just zoom in on the problem.

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--
"I base my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." Gilda Radner
http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com

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