It's only in the last few weeks I realised that this was the adjustment I needed to make. I used to think I just had wide shoulders but when making patterns that are closely fitting on the bodice I always ended up with the same problems:
- Tightness across my upper back
- Difficulty raising my arms up 90 degrees or more to my body
- Tightness at the front of the sleeve
- A high armscye that seems too small
I had all of these problems and eventually I gave up because I didn't know how to make it work. It didn't help that I was already grading the pattern down from a larger bust size, there was just too much adjustment for me to handle. As much as I wanted to crack this pattern and use it as the basis for loads of tops, it was a MEGA FAIL.
Fast forward a few months an the Sewaholic Alma blouse is released. You will see that it's pretty similar to my beloved McCalls pattern. I decided to treat myself to it and make a fresh start.
You know what? I had EXACTLY the same issues.
I traced the pattern, added usual length and wide shoulder adjustments but my first muslin was too tight. I then realised the type of adjustment I needed, with the help of The Fashionable Stitch's post. This was amazing - it was like it was written exactly for me! Sunni has exactly the same problems with the bodice on her closely fitting garments too.
I used her advice to make adjustments to the armhole on the back and the back of the arm and made a second muslin using the adjustments she shows on her pattern pieces.
But it wasn't much better! Still too tight.
My front bodice pattern piece, with loads of paper additions.
Then, with the help of Fit for Real People, I did a 'slash and spead' thing that you can see on my muslin here:
So how do I move forward from here? I have been concentrating on other projects to keep from getting to frustrated with this issue. I know I will crack it eventually, given time. I've thought about paying a private sewing teacher for a couple of hours to enable me to make up a sloper or at least to show me how to adjust for my back.
A broad upper back adjustment doesn't seem to be one of the more common adjustments - Do you have this issue with your patterns?
If this is a familiar issue to you I can recommend two online sources:
'How to Fit my Body' on A Fashionable Stitch
Article from Threads Magazine by Sandra Betzina
I'd love to know if anyone has any other help or information sources they can share.
**EDIT: I have written a tutorial for a Broad Upper Back Adjustment, which can be found here.