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Tips & Techniques > Full-Bust petite adjustment (reducing armhole size)

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Posted by: Sherril Miller
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About Sherril Miller starstarstarstar
Member since: 8/24/02
Reviews: 142 (tips: 6)
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Posted on: 11/26/04 9:12 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 43 people   
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I was at a conference with Cynthia Guffey last weekend and she gave me great advice on how to adjust my patterns to shorten the armscye while keeing the full center front length going over my bust. I had been doing a petite adjustment, pleating across the entire front. This, in effect, removes the length that I need to go over my full bust. So I was still having problems getting enough length in the center front even though I was doing a FBA. With this adjustment, I get the smaller armscye that I need, while keeping the length to get over my bustline.

Cynthia is so generous with her advice. She says she is geometrically gifted, I think I'm geometrically challenged!

On the drawing, I forgot to mention that the dashed line around the armscye is a cutting line.


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stretch queen said... (11/24/09 9:33 AM) Reply
This is a great tip. Thank you soooo much. Wish there was a way to get double helpful buttons :)
Aunt Gail said... (8/13/09 11:07 PM) Reply
great collection of mini drawings to explain the problem and its solution!
dressy 123 said... (6/23/09 7:28 AM) Reply
Brilliant, so much easier to understand than many of the articles on the internet. I am about to try this, am sure it will work.
Sherril Miller said... (11/7/08 5:41 PM) Reply
The goal of my alteration is to shorten the armhole while keeping the length needed for a full bust. I know a FBA adds some length for a full bust, but not usually enough for me. If a FBA adds enough fullness for your bust, then you can pleat out the excess above the bust across the entire front and back, not just at the armhole, which is a similar but different alteration.
solosmocker said... (11/6/08 9:55 PM) Reply
I can see how this shortens the armscye length while maintaining the bodice length. However, what if you really need to be shortened all the way accross the front? I am petite and must remove all across the front for proper fit of my upper chest and then do an FBA. Basically, I am asking is the goal here to shorten the armscye length or to shorten the area between the bust level and shoulder seam? I confuse easy. LOL!
waikikimum said... (5/9/08 11:30 AM) Reply
Sherill, a fantastic tip. As a petite with a large bust I have been struggling with this for ever. You are a similar build to me and I find everything you write so helpful !!
Athene said... (4/4/08 11:50 PM) Reply
Great tip - I will need to try it.
Rosebeee said... (11/22/07 9:07 PM) Reply
This is perfect! Thanks for the wonderful advice here on the armhole (armscye?), and on my pattern review about adding length to the front of the bodice!! :) That dress I did you could look up the sleeve and all the way through to my chest - not something I'd want the public to see!
Muria said... (10/11/07 9:44 AM) Reply
I have a question: how do you determine how much to alter it? Trial and error? Is there some way to measure how big you need the armhole to be (as I write this, I'm suspecting the answer's sitting in my copy of FFRP if I'd bother to go looking for it). I have yet to make a good fitting shirt, and I'd like to change that. Thanks!
Mufffet said... (7/19/07 2:21 PM) Reply
OH MY GOSH - I just saw this after reading the active thread today. You have solved my problem of the armholes Sherril!! And I hate to admit that the need to add tissue in the box is just genius. To some people this stuff is easy, but to me this sort of visualization is so difficult - I really appreciate your posting this tip!
simplystitches said... (1/29/07 11:51 PM) Reply
This helps fix a KS pattern that I was going to file. Thank you!
Dagmar said... (1/28/07 3:26 AM) Reply
I have just found this tip and saved it for future use. I have just altered an armhole then changed it back again because it was not right. I will follow these directions when I do this pattern again. This was a great find for me.
keenpetite said... (10/10/06 6:17 PM) Reply
Sherrill: Same problem, thanks for this great tip. keenpetite
Deb Fox said... (9/13/05 7:47 AM) Reply
Thank you so much for sharing this information! I struggle with FBA/petite adjustments. If I do the petite adjustment, not only does the bust point end up too high, but so does the waist! I can't wait to try this new adjustment. This works much better too, with the narrow shoulder adjustment from Cynthia's book. I have always had to trace two sizes smaller in the shoulder area, but was always left with an awful looking pleat, or drag line from the bust point into the shoulder. I now follow her slash and reduce technique and am thrilled with the fit.
Sherril Miller said... (6/12/05 1:10 PM) Reply
AussieAnn, please remember that when you are using a flat cap, you need to remove the entire pleat amount on each side, not 1/2 the pleat amount like my drawing indicates.
AussieAnn said... (6/11/05 9:56 AM) Reply
GREAT--I am 5'1" but wear a size 14, so armhole lengths are ALWAYS a problem. This is a great tip.
EmiLee said... (3/28/05 2:00 AM) Reply
It's me again ... I finally found the setting in my firewall that was preventing me from accessing this information. I've printed out a copy of your drawings. Thanks so much; this is extremely useful.
EmiLee said... (3/27/05 11:52 PM) Reply
Sherill, I'm sorry, but for some reason I can no longer get the pictures of garments on the pattern reviews, nor is there anything there for website/URL here. Obviously, some security setting is not allowing me access. Can you tell me what the URL is so that I can type it into my browser manually? Thanks.
Sherril Miller said... (3/27/05 8:21 PM) Reply
click on the Web Site/URL picture above the tip description. It doesn't look like a picture until you click on it.
EmiLee said... (3/27/05 4:38 PM) Reply
I'm not seeing any drawing or a link to a drawing. This information sounds very useful, so can you tell me where I can see the drawing? Thanks!
mscris said... (12/16/04 8:55 PM) Reply
I like the drawings. They are very helpful. I'm wondering if this would work for a size small pattern when the bust size should be medium. The cup size is still a B but the bust measurement is 36 instead of the recommended 32?
Karla Kizer said... (12/4/04 7:07 AM) Reply
"Now that I'm studying the picture I drew, I think you need to remove the full pleat amount from each side of the flat cap sleeve on each side seam." I think you're right, Sherril. And one other option on the flat-cap sleeve: you can remove the excess by folding pleats in the sleeve pattern, a few inches from and parallel to each cutting line, then smoothing out the jogs in the armhole cutting line. And remember, you will be narrowing the sleeve no matter which way you do it. A narrower sleeve is often more flattering for those of us who are short, but if the sleeve is narrow to begin with...well, you've seen what sausage casings look like....
Riley said... (11/28/04 9:52 PM) Reply
I'm 5'0" and have a D cup. Gaping armholes have been a problem for years. Thanks so much for posting this tip!
Patti B said... (11/27/04 10:29 PM) Reply
Sherril - I'm so glad you thought to draw this out before it slipped out of memory. CG is such a source of sewing knowledge!
Irene said... (11/27/04 2:25 PM) Reply
Sherril, this is WONDERFUL. Thanks for sharing this clear illustration. I agree with your comment: remove the complete front pleat from the front edge of the sleeve and remove the complete back pleat (it might be a different amount) from the back edge of the sleeve.
Danvillegirl said... (11/27/04 7:21 AM) Reply
This is so helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this tip. I have several tops that I need to try this with. I know I am geometrically challenged.
licarritc said... (11/27/04 7:00 AM) Reply
This is a godsend (sherillsend?) I'm a sortof petite D-cup but with a very high bust so this solves a variety of problems that I have never been able to figure out. Thank you so much!
Maria Hatfield said... (11/26/04 10:33 PM) Reply
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this here and in the comment threads. thank you !!!!!
Sherril Miller said... (11/26/04 9:37 PM) Reply
Now that I'm studying the picture I drew, I think you need to remove the full pleat amount from each side of the flat cap sleeve on each side seam. My drawing says to remove only 1/2 pleat amount from each side seam.
Everyday Sewist said... (11/26/04 9:32 PM) Reply
This is a great tip! I've had the same problem with low armscyes. I didn't want to do the petite adjustment because I needed that length in both the front and the back. This looks like a great solution. Thanks for sharing it.
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