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Forum > Fitting Woes > taking up the shoulders on a dress ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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taking up the shoulders on a dress
hollyt
hollyt
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Member since 2/22/07
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Date: 5/29/07 8:36 PM

I've had this problem several times, so I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to change it on dress patterns but I need advice on how to do that, and on how if possible to change it in an already assembled garment.

Here's what happens. I put the whole dress together and put it on and it doesn't fit right, so I start messing with it, pinning the side seams in, or the darts, or whatever. And I find that the one change that makes it work out just right is to take up the shoulders, basically shortening them by resewing the shoulder seams about 1 to 1 and a half inches lower than before.

This is easy enough to do in some designs, but what about designs with collars or unusual necklines? I totally ruined a Burda shirt dress trying to make this change, and now I have a sort of cheongsam style dress--basically a sheath style with keyhole neckline and stand-up mandarin sort of collar--that needs the same change.

Can anyone tell me how to take care of this on the already made dress (by taking it apart and changing the collar to fit the adjusted shoulders), and on future patterns that I'll be making? I'm desperate for a solution!

ccris
ccris
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Member since 10/27/05
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In reply to hollyt


Date: 5/29/07 10:19 PM

Sewing deeper shoulder seams all the way across automatically raises your front and back necklines, and makes the neckline circumference smaller. If your neckline measured 18" to begin with, and you took up the shoulder all the way across on each side by 1," your neckline will now measure 16." You'd need to shorten your collar 2" to make it fit the new neckline circumference. Now, the question is, will the smaller neckline/collar circumference fit you? Will the new smaller neckline circumference be too high in the front and back? This alteration also makes the armscye circumference 1" smaller, which means you need to make your sleeve 1" smaller to fit the smaller armscye, and it also raised the underarm. Another thought just ocurred to me. Maybe all you really need to do is raise the underarm and adjust the sleeve to fit. It's possible this may be the only problem you really have. If not, then you could try taking up the shoulders 1" on the outside and taper to nothing at the neck (this is actually a sloped shoulder adjustment) eliminating all those neckline/collar alterations. If that works, then you would just need to adjust the sleeve to fit the smaller armscye, keeping in mind that the underarm has also been raised. Remember, when you make one alteration, it affects other areas as well. My suggestion for you is to get a simple pattern and make it up in muslin, or other cheap fabric, experimenting with these different adjustments.

If you're wanting to know how to alter something you've already made, or RTW, you would have to take the sleeve out, remove the collar, open the shoulder seams and go from there, keeping in mind what I said above.

Irene

Irene  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/29/07 10:33 PM

When you take up the shoulders, do you prefer the new neckline? Or, would you rather have the original neckline, but with the smaller, higher armhole?

If it's the second choice, make a horizontal fold across the armscye (armhole), maybe 1/3 of the way down. (In other words, do it where the armhole is relatively straight, not toward the bottom, where it curves significantly.) Make an equivalent fold in your sleeve. You'll have to sketch in new lines so that they flow smoothly. Of course, this only works BEFORE you sew.

With several patterns (e.g., Textile Studios Santa Monica Tee and Barcelona Dress, and Kwik Sew 3036), I prefer the neckline and armhole of a smaller size and need the bust measurement of the next larger size. The tops call for knits, so I found it easier to make two sizes and see what suited me than to guess in advance and make a ton of adjustments, only to have to make another alteration, anyway.

ccris
ccris
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Date: 5/29/07 10:52 PM

When I said maybe all you really needed to do was raise the armhole and adjust the sleeve to fit, Irene just gave you good directions on how to do that.

hollyt
hollyt
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Member since 2/22/07
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Date: 5/29/07 11:41 PM

The problem seems to be that the distance from the top of my shoulder (near but not right at my neck) straight down to my bust point is shorter than in most patterns. Does that help either of you determine which of the methods you mentioned I should use? I like the original neckline on all of these patterns, and I don't want to make the neckline itself any higher, I just need the bodice to fit better.

ccris
ccris
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In reply to hollyt


Date: 5/30/07 0:14 AM

I think you need to shorten the area where you're short, between the shoulder and bust, right at the area Irene talked about. Do the same on front and back and shorten sleeve the same amount so it fits into the adjusted armscye. I think the books call this a petite bodice adjustment. Do it up in a muslin first to make sure it's what you need.

hollyt
hollyt
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In reply to ccris


Date: 5/30/07 2:05 PM

OK, that makes sense. Does that mean I could just fold the pattern piece at that area, or cut some out and tape it back together? And would I still need to shorten the collar? I guess I would since the neckline would be shortened still by doing this.

jewelsfashions

jewelsfashions
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Date: 5/30/07 4:33 PM

I also seem to have to alter my shirts by doing the same. I bought a "fitting shell" pattern from vogue and that has helped me alot understanding what I need to adjust to get a good fit in the clothes I make. McCalls also has one I understand. You compare your measurements to their standard measurements on the provided inside sheet. Several measurements like bicep, waist to full hip, back neck to bust point, back bust point to waist, front to bust point, front bust point to waist and others also. As you compare these measurements to yours you either add or substract the adjustment and they show you where on the pattern. I have found it helpful. I adjusted the pattern below the armhole and above the bustpoint to take out the amount needed to fit, as suggested by others here. You then take the pattern you adjusted ( I always trace my patterns out on tissue paper instead of cutting into the original, you never know if you accidentally make a mistake or need to someday use a different size) and sew up your dress in muslin fabric or old thrift sale bed sheets (good deals). And then you go from there if you need to do any tweaking. Always do a muslin until you get it right as you also may need to adjust the back also. And it may not be the same amount. Hope this helps you. I never knew about a fitting shell until it was posted in the boards here. Can't remember now from who but thanks!

ccris
ccris
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In reply to hollyt


Date: 5/31/07 2:24 PM

If you follow Irene's directions in her second paragraph you won't be folding your pattern anywhere near the neckline, therefore, no changes needed there, or on the collar.


Sewliz
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Date: 5/31/07 6:23 PM

I have been fiddling with this type of alteration for a while and in my most recent pattern I realized I could just cut a size smaller from mid armscye up. All my folding and shaping was creating something like a smaller size in the shoulders anyway. I wondered about the neckline in the smaller size but that actually fit better than the original size neckline. That was a surprise since necklines often seem uncomfortable as if they are tight. Hah, maybe they are always too big for me! If you need the shoulder width you can always keep that.

------
Liz

thefittinglife.blogspot.com

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