Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An L Shaped Armhole

Paisley is my favourite print of all time. I have loved it since I was a little girl and unless it's a truly awful piece of fabric, it's always on my wish list. In December, Marcy Tilton had a remnant of a green and purple paisley on her website and Howard...

... bought it for me as part of my Christmas gift. It's gorgeous. Quality. The kind of fabric you just love to wear. Several months later, in her booth at Sew Expo, Marcy had another remnant of a green with purple, striped tissue knit. I thought the two would go well together and hoped to find a third fabric but...

... that didn't happen. There wasn't enough of the paisley to match the print down the center back seam. I think this is a doable compromise and since I'm not behind me, it can't drive me crazy. It wouldn't have worked to piece the back and one sleeve out of the tissue knit and the front and one sleeve out of the paisley because the tissue knit is a substantially lighter fabric so I used it for the sleeves and the neck binding. The pattern is New Look 6735... again ! ! ! ! !

Believe me when I say that the sleeves look vastly better in real life. I've always heard that the camera doesn't lie. Yes, yes it does. That truth has become increasingly real since I started illustrating a blog years ago. What the camera has to say can be greatly distorted. My arms don't look so chicken drumstick leg in person and of course...

... I'm not standing perfectly still all the time. My goal with this t-shirt was to see if I could improve the look of the lower armhole curve. I wanted it to come further down in a straight line from the shoulder before curving under the arm. In my posting What The Dart Did, I referred to Ann's posting both of which talked about an L shape versus a J shape. I have an L shaped armhole.

On the pattern piece, along the armhole curve, is a small circle. From center front or center back to this circle is where you measure your center front width and your center back width. My center front width is 14" which means that the measurement from center front to this circle needs to be 7" and then the 5/8" seam allowance. In my size, the measurement was 7 1/4" so I made a 1/4" narrow chest adjustment. Because I didn't alter the side seam this lengthened the underarm by 1/4" so 1/4" was added to the sleeve at the side seam.

The edge of the ruler on the right shows a parallel line 7" from center front. The ruler on the left shows where the seam line would run 5/8" from the cut edge. See that gap in-between? That's the extra fabric that's driving me crazy plus that curve cuts in under the arm. You can just see the dotted line below the small ruler. That's the cutting line of one size smaller. If I...

... move the ruler in to measure 5/8" from that line you can see that the gap is removed. The next size down may not always work. It is not the answer. The answer is a longer line down from the shoulder with a tighter turn into the underarm. In this case (and whenever I can) I can use one of the drafted cutting lines for the smaller size and that's much preferable - and more professional - than winging it my own. Using that curve moved the sleeve in another 1/2" so that 1/2" was also added to the side seam of the sleeve for a total of 3/4".

The same adjustment was made to the back armhole and the same amount of width added to the back sleeve seam. The 3/4" in front and the 3/4" in back equalled 1 1/2" which provided the additional bicep width that I needed. It's interesting how as you work through them, the answers make increasing sense and it (as in making adjustments) is so much easier. My immediate reaction was yeah, yes, now I don't have to do a bicep adjustment and it's a confirmation that I've made the right adjustment. The pink lines in the image above show the altered cutting lines and you saw the results with the paisley t-shirt. This is...

... much preferable to the cutting in right under the armhole look of the cardigan above that was drafted from my earlier version of the TNT. As I said yesterday, the changes are barely and better. Subtle changes can make a HUGE difference.

LOL - when I cleaned my closet, the lace skirt went to the recycle bin and looking at this picture, I think that was a good idea. A-line skirts are always recommended for my figure type and slim, longer style skirts are not and yet A-line shapes make me feel wider while a long pencil skirt makes me feel slim and elegant. If I do wear an A-line skirt, it'll be of a lighter, flowing fabric but it's most likely to not get worn often and to move through my wardrobe quickly. It'll be fad-ish like this skirt was. And then - to be contrary - I like A-line skirts on dresses.

The purple cardigan was one of my favourites and I wore it regularly only it was wearing out and pilling so badly that I finally took it out of circulation and now I'm looking for another fabric to re-sew it with. It has to be light and flowing and lettuce edge well for the ruffle but be substantial enough to not show every lump and bump for the main garment pieces. Next time, I'll add more wearing ease. When I made it, I didn't think about how it would be worn over another garment.

This is an old picture however... the black line is the traced pattern and the red line is the draft of my armhole in the Pattern Master Boutique software. The red line illustrates how long and deep my armhole needs to be. You can see that it's very similar to the shape I drafted. The garment above had more wearing ease than a t-shirt does.

Working through this alteration process with the fitting shell has been a good journey. I now recognize and understand my shapes better but I still can't believe that I wandered away from using Lynda Maynard's Demystifying Fit method of pattern adjustment. Some time soon I will be reloading PMB and re-creating my fitting shells and working with them again but only after I've figured things out on my own because it's good learning to know how and why and what relates to what and that learning process helps me and it helps me help others. My friend Patti is always asking how did you know that? and my reply is always that I learned it the hard way, through trial and error.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - to have worked through and resolved the bulk behind the back armhole and the armhole shape. YES YES !


  1. Well the New Look pattern works for your figure, all the tops are turning out better and better. Brave of you to cut into your Marcy Tilton fabric, I haven't touched mine yet from Puyallup.

    1. LOL - I've only just touched these two remnants. They sat for quite a while. My French cotton and Italian linen are still figuring out what they want to be when they grow up.

      Thanks for the compliments on the t-shirts.

  2. Good morning...

    That paisley is beautiful!

    Thanks for explaining the armhole, it makes perfect sense.

  3. Hi, Myrna,
    It seems like forever since we shared your blog and a cup of coffee. I haven't been hiding. I retired 3/29/2013 and then got very busy. IQF Spring in Cincinnati was fantastic and I worked all but one day. I know you don't do quilts anymore, but I have been inspired by the Hoffman Challenge Exhibit and purchased my fabric Saturday. I will be using a traditional block. Right now I am testing my directions for cutting and sewing the block.
    I am finally up to date with your blog. I love the sweet pictures of your grandson. My, isn't he handsome! And you puppy sat your grand puppy too. You will become one of the best grandparents of those in the world.
    Now that I have time I will need to get back to work on my studio. Your blog has so many ideas for me to incorporate that I will have to make some decisions about placement of furniture and machines.
    When do you return your grand puppy to your daughter and get to see your new grandson. I cannot wait to see him in your arms.
    Oh, by the way. The idea of using the open window for light and the wall for you to pose in front of with the camera on a tripod is excellent. You will be able to avoid the top of the head cut off as well as what happened to the right arm when you have a permanent set up for photos. A small suggestion is to have an X is the spot for your right heel and left heel and a standard spot for the camera. I cannot speak for the other followers of your blog, but I like to see a smile on your face in a full picture.
    Karen W. in SW Ohio

    1. How nice to hear from you Karen. I'd been missing your comments and wondering how you were. Congratulations on retirement. Yes... it gets busy... you have to own your own time.

      It's true that I don't do quilts any more... at least not right now... but I firmly believe it's important to explore the creative outlets that are tickling each of us individually so I'm thrilled to hear that you're exploring new directions. YES YES.

      My grandson is quite handsome. I'm sure he'll be even more so in person. I'm going tomorrow.

      Actually, it's not a window that I'm using. It's the French doors from the hallway into the studio. With that extra distance, there's enough space to take photos without having to rearrange furniture and I can use the tripod. There is a large window straight across so I think that's helping as well. X marks the spot sounds like a good idea. LOL - I cut the top of my head off on purpose - end of the day, faded make-up. I'll try to include my smile more often.

      What happened to the right arm? I'm trying to see what you see and all I note is that one shoulder is higher than the other. Is that it? There could be any number of reasons for that.

    2. There is nothing wrong with the right arm.
      I was using cutting off top of head or right arm as an example.
      No one but you would worry about makeup at the end of the day (a complement)! We all love you the way you are.

  4. Hi Myrna! wow, you've been knocking out some gorgeous tees there, lady :) All the time you spent on bodice fitting really shows in these pieces, just the type of fit that fades into the background because it looks so natural and unforced - ha! ;) and your print and color choices are beautiful, quite luxe on their own and very flattering on you!

    Hooray! it's always so exciting and encouraging to see hard work and dogged persistence rewarded with outstanding results. Thank you for sharing and enjoy looking so swank :) steph

    1. Thank you. Nice to see the pay-off and especially - LOL - to look good in it. Thanks for sharing the journey. I've appreciated your feedback.

  5. All your hard work is paying off. It looks like you've finally got the fit where you want it. I can't see anything that I personally would change.

    I love paisley prints so I adore the fabric combination you used. I think the print is busy enough you don't notice the fact that it's not matched at cb. Even knowing there's a seam and it's not matched I had to really look at the picture to find the seam.

    1. YEAH - thanks Debbie. Glad the mismatched print doesn't show and really glad to hear that you think all is well. I've appreciated all your in-put. Not sure what I'll work on next but looking forward to sharing the journey. I keep meaning to ask for those pictures you were going to post of V8323. Did you get them up? Where?

  6. Oh, that paisley fabric is beautiful, and you've made a really great top out of it. I love it!

  7. Karen - thanks for loving me the way I am. MUCH appreciated.

    Dixie - Thank you. I love the fabric and the top too.

  8. It's so neat to follow your progress with the t-shirts, this new one really looks great! The L-shaped armhole make so much sense to me now!! I have the same armhole wrinkles on all my knit tops and man do they bug me! I'm going to try this adjustment. Thanks Myrna!


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.