How I Adjusted M5717’s Armscye

Well, after a few days of snow in the city, we were greeted with a particularly lovely Saturday. A perfect day for Lladybird Lauren’s sewing meet-up if you attended. I was super bummed that I couldn’t make it, but I hope everyone had fun and I’d love to get together for a meet-up sometime soon! Perhaps April?

In any case, I wanted to dedicate a post to my adjustments to the armscye of the M5717 pattern that I’m using for my tailored coat. I had a hard time finding a tutorial in my books or online on how to do this, but I used a little common sense and bits and pieces of online information and went to work.

The problem? On my first muslin I reached up and found the sleeves pulling down tight on me at the upper arms. Through self-diagnosis, I figured out that this was due to the fact that the armscye was much too low (this apparently is a common issue with patterns – go figure!).

An article in Threads Magazine called “To Get the Right Armhole, Fit the Bodice” helped steer me in the right direction. I needed to raise the depth of the armhole, and here’s how I did it:

photo 1

First, I followed the article’s advice:

Deciding where the armhole hits under the arm is partially personal preference. Remember that an armhole cut high up under the arm is generally more comfortable because it allows a greater range of movement in a garment with sleeves; this is often counter-intuitive to a beginning fitter. A sleeveless garment is only 1/2 inch higher under the arm than a fitted garment with a sleeve.

If the armhole is cut too low under the arm, add a piece of fabric and draw in a new depth; or make a note to raise the underarm a specified amount on your pattern tissue. If you hold a ruler under your arm as high as is comfortably possible, the underarm seamline should fall barely below where the ruler is touching the flesh. –Threads

Once I found the right height thanks to holding a ruler under my arm, I drew in the seamline on the existing pattern (seen above in dotted pencil marks) and then raised it an inch (seen in dotted red). I also added in the new cutting line seen in dotted blue. The double tracing wheel and wax paper were mighty helpful here! I then tried to blend the existing seamline and new seamline together; you can see the solid pencil mark meeting the dotted pencil mark on the pattern.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not saying this is the right way to do it! This is just how I interpreted the above mentioned Threads article since it didn’t give step-by-step instructions. I’m happy to say it worked like a charm! However, I think the angle I created might have added a bit more fabric to the back of the coat then was needed, but not enough that it greatly affects the coat. It’s something I would work on perhaps in another version.

photo 2

I also raised the seamline on the sleeve. Once again, not sure if this is completely correct, but everything worked out in the end so there you have it. 🙂 For the record, I raised it the same height (one inch) as the armscye.

Now when I reach up with this coat on there’s no pulling/tightness at my upper arm – magic! This is particularly important as a dutiful rider of the New York City subway. You just never know when you might get on a crowded train and have to hold on to one of the poles above your head. Having a comfortable reach is key. It’s also nice to avoid putting strain on the fabric and seams whenever possible!

Okay, so my goal is to have this coat done and photographed next Sunday. I’ve already asked a friend to help me take photos on that day so it’s extra motivation to get it finished! That, and the oncoming warmer weather. Sheesh, is it time to think about sewing spring dresses already?! 😀

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