Even though I am still working on drafting the perfectly fitted button-up, I used what I learned over the months to fix the armholes and sleeves on a tunic pattern.
The pattern was made by Unique Patterns to my measurements, but, like most woven shirt patterns, when I sewed in the sleeve, the underarm armhole/sleeve seam was halfway between my pit and my elbow, severely limiting movement. Also, the sleeve cap had two inches of extra fabric that I had to pleat or gather. I didn't want puffed sleeves and the pattern picture also shows them as smooth.
On my first muslin, I simply took in 2 inches from the shoulder seams of the sewn tunic and pleated the sleeve cap. When I tried to cut the next muslin with two inches taken off the top of the pattern, the armholes were too small for anything other than a sleeveless top and the neckline was too high. How did that happen?
Months later, after successfully drafting a sleeve and armhole for a woven button-up, I applied the same principles to the tunic. I don't know why, but the sleeve is not symmetrical, making it impossible to cut on the fold. The back and front armhole also have different measurements and shapes.
After some fiddling this is what I figured out:
- After tracing the pattern pieces, draw in the seam lines. Otherwise, you will sometimes measure from the seam line and sometimes from the cut line, causing much difficulty and frustration.
- Use the original pattern piece for each tracing, or else slowly your pattern piece will become larger.
- Mark the original seam line in something that won't erase. You'll want to use this as reference for your changes.
- Start with the smallest measurement (largest cut of fabric) because you can fold over excess fabric to make the measurement larger, but it's a pain to add extra fabric.
- Don't cut until you know what you've marked will work the way you want it to work.
Maybe the armhole is a little tight. When I hug myself or raise my hands to touch the ceiling, I can feel the back seam digging into me and the back fabric stretched to the limit. Getting the shirt off also requires calmness; at first I feel stuck. I also wonder if I've made other fit challenges with these changes. Are those excess wrinkles coming from the arm seam towards the bust? I also don't understand why when the sleeve seam measurement is the same as the corresponding armhole measurement, the sleeve is 1/4-inch too long.
It's not a perfect fix and as I learn more, I will probably make changes. For now, though, it's better than what it was. I'm happy to be able to move my arms.