Recently I admitted to myself that I need to do a forward shoulder adjustment on most garments. Simple enough on a sleeveless garment where you can just redraw the shoulder stitching line, but what if there's a sleeve involved? I'm trying to figure that out on my current project:
I decided to invest some time in improving the shoulder fit on this tunic since it's a really simple pattern that could be easily adapted to create other styles. So I consulted Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach by Liechty, Pottberg and Rasband.
I picked this up after I heard Susan Khalje mention that it is her favorite fit book. I haven't used it much yet, but so far I like it's technical, no frills approach to analysis and correction of fit issues. Each fit issue is addressed on a 2-page spread, and the chapters are broken out by body area - hip, torso, neck - which makes it efficient to flip through looking for your particular issue. They give you line drawings of "the wrinkles" that we love to analyze, and a text description of the underlying structural reason for them. Then they describe how to resolve the issue on a fitting garment and on the flat pattern pieces. I get lost reading the text, but the pictures are understandable for the most part.
Here's my altered back bodice piece where I cut open the back in a few places so I could move the shoulder seam forward by half an inch. Extra fabric is added to the back to accommodate the fact that the armscye is moved forward.
Here's my altered front bodice. You can't really see the forward shoulder adjustment since I just chopped off a piece of the pattern at the shoulder seam and carved out a bit at the armhole. You can, though, see how I pinched some fabric out at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the hem. I did this because I found there was a bit of extra fabric at the neckline on my muslin (possibly related to my forward shoulders?).
Now, the sleeve pattern piece. The F&PA book shows how to alter a sleeve for a forward shoulder adjustment, but I just don't get it... Then I found this tip on Pattern Review which sounded simple enough, so I used that method (literally, slashing the piece horizontally underneath the sleeve notches, moving the cap forward the necessary amount, and redrawing/truing the seamlines) to start with.
I muslined that sleeve piece and found two issues, (1) I didn't like how much ease was in the sleeve cap (1.5") and (2) the angle of the sleeve felt very restrictive - it was fine with my arms by my side but tight when I raised them.
The first thing I did was to remove the ease off the sleeve cap, shown as the red line in the photo above. (BTW I highly recommend Kathleen Fasanella's post Sleeve Cap Ease is Bogus if you're looking for justification to do this.)
The sleeve cap was 5.5" at this point (versus it's original height of 6"). My recent epiphany on how sleeve angle relates to sleeve cap height (thanks to David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book) is still fresh in my mind, so I decided to lower the sleeve cap height by 0.5", thereby giving my arm a bit more freedom to move. (And yes, if you followed the epiphany link, I still need to finish that shirt for Tim; I'm too selfish with my time to sew for others.) In the picture above, you can see my new pattern piece with shorter sleeve cap height laid on top of the previous sleeve pattern piece. Note that the sleeve is wider now.
When you remove sleeve cap height, you are really just redistributing the armhole seam by giving yourself more width in the arm (the length of the armhole stitching line is unchanged so no adjustment is necessary to the bodice!). This is exactly what I wanting for this tunic - a slightly looser, more flowy sleeve.
Now I've got my silk fabric cut out and I'm ready to sew this sucker up. I'm going to add a keyhole with a button closure at the back neck - totally unnecessary as it fits over my head as is, but it'll "add interest". Coming right up...