Good afternoon, lovelies! Today’s post is a follow up to my last tutorial, which dealt with the Narrow Shoulder Adjustment. This is really a sister tutorial to that one, since it uses the same adjustment lines, simply spread instead of overlapped. As you know, shoulders are one of the largest areas of variance on the human body. Women with the exact same measurements everywhere else can have a huge range of shoulder measurements, thanks to genetics and lifestyle. To properly fit your shoulders, you can either pick a size based on your shoulder measurement, then adjust everywhere else, or adjust for shoulders on a pattern that fits your high bust. I take the latter approach, in my own fitting. In this post, I’ll be teaching you how I adjust for wide shoulders on such a pattern. There are a few different methods for this adjustment, but this is the one I prefer.
Luckily, shoulder adjustments are a breeze to make. They’ll take you five minutes, at the most, so there’s no reason to skip over them. A few cuts, some spreading of pieces, and a bit of tape, then you’re good to go. Let’s get started!
Gather Your Supplies
- A bodice pattern!
- Pattern weights — As always, I use large washers.
- Scrap tracing paper — I use Swedish tracing paper, but medical exam paper or tissue paper also works.
Determining Ideal Shoulder Fit
First up, who needs a Wide Shoulder Adjustment? Well, there is a fairly straightforward way to determine this. First up, you must find your ideal shoulder seam. Put one finger on your shoulder, raise your arm to the side. Where you feel those two bones hinging is the exact point your shoulder seam should hit! When you make a muslin, the shoulder seam might strain to reach this point, or you could have a lot of pulling through the shoulder before this point. Both of these markers indicate that you do not have enough length at the shoulder itself. (Note: For sleeveless dresses or tops, you normally want your shoulder edge to hit inside of your pivot point, instead of on top or beyond it. Pay attention to your intended design and style lines, however.)
Pick out the seam and move the sleeve, until your shoulder seam hits nicely at that pivot point, and pin it in place. Measure the gap you have created–this is the amount we’ll be taking out our shoulders by. For example’s sake, I’ll be performing a half-inch adjustment, in this tutorial.
Marking Our Pattern
The very first thing you want to do, when making shoulder adjustments, is mark in your seam allowances along the shoulder seam, neckline, and upper armscye. We’re going to use these as a guidelines for several of our pattern adjustment marks. Now, let’s draw in some lines!
Next, mark a dash at the center of your pattern’s shoulder seam.
(Marked in orange above.)
Then, draw a line through the center point you just marked, to a point on the armscye, about a 1/3rd of the way down. We don’t go any farther down, because we’re trying to prevent as much distortion of the armscye as possible.
(Line 1 is marked in pink above.)
For our final adjustment line, draw a line from the outer shoulder corner, through the intersecting seam allowances and to our first line.
(Line 2 is marked in blue above)
And…that’s it! You’ve now drawn in all the lines you’ll need to make a Wide Shoulder Adjustment. Let’s start slashing those lines, shall we?
Cutting Our Pattern
For our first cut, we’re going to cut along Line 1, from the shoulder seam edge, down to the armscye. Stop just before the end of the armscye, so that a hinge is created there. That hinge enables us to move the outer shoulder edge inward, to wide the shoulder.
(Shown in pink above.)
Our next two cuts are a bit odd, but there’s a method to the madness, I promise you. I’ll show you where both cuts go, before making them in the photos, so that you get a clear sense of what’s going on. Let’s do this!
Our second cut is going to be along Line 2, coming in from Line 1. Cut along Line 2, stopping just before your marked seam allowance.
(Shown with the blue arrow above.)
For our last cut, cut along Line 2 coming from the shoulder corner, again stopping just before the seam allowance intersection.
Do not clip through to meet our last cut! Leave a little bit of paper at the seam allowance, creating another hinge.
(Shown with the blue arrow above.)
With those two cuts combined, we have another hinge at our shoulder corner, as you see above.
Huzzah! We can now completely move the outer shoulder, without sacrificing armscye length.
Adjusting Our Pattern
Now that we’ve slashed along our pattern adjustment lines, it’s time to widen those shoulders. Grab some tape and scratch paper, then let’s get started!
First up, we need to mark our new center shoulder point. To do this, measure outward by your adjustment amount, as I did above. Mark a dash at your new center on the scratch paper beneath your pattern piece .
(I’ve measured inward by .5 inch.)
Now, carefully move your hinged outer shoulder over to this point. Be sure to use your hinges to allow for full movement and a smooth top shoulder edge.
Notice how those inner corners are overlapping each other and the outer piece has spread out? That’s exactly what we want! It means your hinges are compensating for this adjustment.
Next, tape everything down and fill in with scratch paper, where needed.
Finally, use a straight ruler to draw a new shoulder line. Voila! A perfectly widened shoulder.
Perform this same adjustment on your back bodice piece, then you’re done!
Now, I do have one last word of caution. If you’re making a fairly substantial shoulder adjustment, whether narrow or wide, pay attention to your sleeve head shape. For adjustments over .75 inch, you will most likely need to raise or lower the arc of your sleeve head, in accordance with your shoulder adjustment.