Shoulders Overview


Fitting Issues that relate to the shoulder include:

  • square or sloping shoulders
  • broad or narrow shoulders
  • forward sloping shoulder (usually with a rounded upper back; this rounding can be quite slight)

When making adjustments to commerical patterns to account for fit in the shoulder area, you need to retain the shape of the armhole for  two reasons:

  • if the garment has a sleeve and you make changes to the armhole, the sleeve won't fit the new armhole
  • you don't want to make the armhole bigger or smaller, but rather you want to raise or lower the whole armhole

Sloping & Square Shoulders

Before following instructions to allow for sloping or square shoulders, it helps to understand all the ways the sloping and square figures differs from the standard figure. 

In the image below, look carefully at the bodice of the three silhouettes. They all have the same CB length and the same armhole depth.  Notice the following:

  • The more sloped the shoulder, the lower the position of the armhole on the bodice; conversely, the squarer the shoulder, the higher the position of the armhole
  • As the shoulder slope increases and the armhole position is lower, the shorter the side seam gets, conversely, as the shoulder gets squarer and the position of the armhole is raised,  the side seam gets longer

comparison shoulder slope

Note also that if the width of the shoulders  - from shoulder point to shoulder point -  is the same, the shoulder length will be longer for the sloping shoulder, and shorter for the square shoulder.

change in shoulder width

Broad and Narrow Shoulders

Broad and narrow shoulders are defined as such because they are bigger than normal for that size; it differs to the standard figure just in the shoulder area.  If the body increases or decreases further down the body, then the shoulder difference indicates a different size.

broad and narrow

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