Raising armscye depth and removing height from sleeve caps for a better sleeve fit.

I knew I would have to redraft McCall’s 6927 after my muslin was pulling at the lower armhole and the sleeve was gathering too much at the sleeve cap. The armscye depth would need to be raised and the sleeve cap would also need to be lowered, most likely.img_6101

From Kathleen Fasanella at Fashion Incubator:

If you have no idea what I’m blathering about, you can find more in sleeve cap ease is bogus. If you do the heavy lifting of redesigning your armholes to match the range of motion, you don’t need sleeve cap ease to compensate for a poorly made armhole and or sleeve. And an idea of how you might go about doing it for this style is shown at right. (below)add_cf_to_sidepanel_sm_step_two_display

One pattern designer I trust to know her stuff is Liesl Gibson. I recently bought B6183 from her Lisette Butterick line.  I compared M6927’s sleeve against her B6183. As I thought, my sleeve cap was much higher than the Lisette sleeve draft. I traced her sleeve cap onto M6927, removing at least an inch from the sleeve cap height.

The sleeve cap had less gathering and did look less “Becky Home Ecky’. But this didn’t solve my armhole pulling at the front. The armholes were still too uncomfortable.

I suspected that the armholes were also too low and scooped out too much.

My next step was to raise the armhole depth, now that I had fixed the sleeve cap. Hopefully my sleeve wouldn’t be too small once I did that.

I’ve made McCall’s 6927 before for the D cup. D cup basic patterns are hard to find so I snapped it up. It fit great! But it’s a lot easier to fit a sleeveless armhole than one with sleeves.front

McCall’s 6927 pattern comes with a sleeveless version, as well as a sleeved one, and I noticed the same pattern piece was used for both the sleeved and sleeveless versions, raising a red flag warning . To understand this concept more, this article from Threads is a good post about raising armhole depth on sleeve patterns.101-armhole-fitting-11

Illustration from Threads. The lower length is fine for a sleeveless top, but will limit mobility if a sleeve is added.

 If you look at the orange top in the pattern photo ,view C , you can see the pulling at the armscye.il_570xn-1074838056_g9f3 I believe this happens because they used a sleeveless block for the sleeved design. In design school we would drop the armhole about an inch or so for sleeveless tops. You can’t just add a sleeve to a sleeveless block. If you do that pulling happens, because the armhole is too low. A higher armhole actually gives more mobility even though it seems like the opposite should be true. My muslin looked exactly like view C.armpulling

 I got out the Liesl Gibbons Lisette Butterick 6183 pattern to compare armholes. Since this pattern also has a D cup I could compare the two. The front armholes on both patterns were almost identical. They were both very short already from the FBA. An Fba shortens the front armhole.img_6101I decided to compare the back pieces, too. The Lisette pattern’s armscye was at least 1.5 to 2 inches higher in the back! (photo above) Interestingly enough, it was the extra long length of my back armhole that seemed to be creating the pulling in the front. I traced a new back muslin piece with the Lisette Butterick back armhole on the left.armafterIt was so much more comfortable! I still needed to do a narrow shoulder adjustment though. Stay tuned! Looks like my apex is a bit high here, too. Or I just need a better bra lol!

Fitting can be so time consuming. But the alternative is spending time and money on a garment that never gets worn because it ‘just doesn’t feel right.’







Share Button


  1. Sandy Osborne says

    Great information – thanks! I have found that I usually have to make at least two muslins to get a good fit. I’m always torn: I’m anxious to start the real project and hate spending all the time with the fitting, but(!) I’m always sorry if I don’t.

    p.s. You cracked me up with the comment about the bra

  2. Karen says

    Great article. I’ve seen some posts on this but your post helped me visualize it better.

  3. Helene Wilson says

    Very informative article. I have a tank top pattern that I love, Kwik Sew 3844 but the underarm area exposes my bra. This article helps a lot. Is there a place on your website where I can pin this particular post?

  4. karen says

    Woven fabrics are the definitive fit test of a pattern! Fortunately you know how to deal with the adjustments required to make the garment fit. I think the pattern companies should include advice on what to do for different fitting problems. I think they would ultimately sell more, because more women would stick with sewing their own garments if the things could be made to fit them. Right now people get discouraged after one or two failures, and drop the idea altogether.
    Thanks for the tutorial!

    • says

      That would be awesome Karen.I have a feeling many companies are starting off with slopers that already have fit problems built into them making a simple fitting session really complicated because not only does the seamstress have to add her own fitting adjustments , but she must also correct problems in the fundamental design of the pattern, like armhole depth, in this case, and that is so hard to do.