Monday, May 18, 2009

Shoulder Query

I posted the review of the Burda Top I wore yesterday, and mentioned that I thought the drafting in the shoulder was rather odd. Some discussion ensued, so I thought I'd post some photos of what I was talking about.

So, I did a quick copy of the bodice upper front and upper back pieces straight off the pattern sheet w/no seam allowances. You can see how far offset the front shoulder is from the back shoulder:

Now, there may be an entirely rational reason for this. It may be a stroke of pattern drafting GENIUS to draft this way. But I have extremely narrow shoulders which also happen to be pretty square, and I have lots of trouble with front necklines draping and gaping. And this looked to me like a prime candidate for neckline droopage. So I whacked away on my piece to pull that shoulder up...and ended up using what I'd added as facing as filler so I wouldn't have a huge kink in the neckline. You can see my altered piece (which does have seam allowances and has also been lengthened an inch) compared to the original here:

Here's a better shot of the altered-up front piece:

And a photo of what I did to the back to make it all match:

Anyway, what I did worked great for me; the shoulders are very nearly spot on and the neckline is fine. But that may just be due to my particular set of fitting issues (narrow square shoulders). So I will no doubt continue to alter my BWOF tops this way.

But, because I'm curious... can someone enlighten me as to the rationale of the offset shoulders?


  1. I think... I think that when they added the fullness for the pleats they directed the fullness towards the armscye. That tilted the shoulder off.
    At least that's what I see when I visualize how they might have drafted it...

  2. Yeah, that would make sense...except the only other pattern I've made from my BWOF subscription was a dress that also had the front shoulder leaning out like that, so I'm not sure that feature results from the pleats in this style.

    Maybe it's just drafted for someone w/really wide shoulders?

  3. My thinking is the same as Kathleen's.If I take an unpleated bodice piece and then slash and spread the piece to get the fabric for the pleats, the armscye curve and shoulder will look like your original pattern.The waistline stays put and the shoulder moves.

  4. *lightbulb goes on*
    Ok, I see what you mean! Hmmm....I guess it does mean that it worked for me just because I've got narrow shoulders.

  5. I think that shoulder/armscye is drafted that way to add space for the bust. You would get a similar changed angle if you were doing some types of FBAs.

    If you were trying to reduce gaping you might want to slightly shorten the neckline length (a tuck might work, or adding clear elastic to the edge finish)

    If you wanted to raise the neckline a little you could straighten out the curve a bit.

    Did you actually need the top lengthened (do you have a low bustline?) If not, then changing to a more standard shaped shoulder and sleeve probably removed the bust space from the original pattern.

  6. Lowering the bustling by 1 - 1 1/2 inches is a pretty standard adjustment for me; in this case, I could tell by a quick tissue check that I needed to add length to the upper bodice. I altered that length before I checked anything else. Actually, I found the shoulder issue because I was trueing the back bodice to the lengthened front bodice.

    What I did actually shortened the neckline curve as well as bringing the neckline in closer to the neck; something that is good for me to do also; I have a hollow upper chest and necklines do tend to be gapey.

    My conclusion is that Burda drafts for a longer, more sloped shoulder than I have. So *I* need to do that adjustment...

  7. I tend to have the hollow upper chest thing too. Made more so by the square shoulders that are moving forward as I age....

    Wouldn't the shoulder length and slope be determined by the length and slope of the back bodice shoulder of this pattern? (Rather than the front, I mean.) Did you shorten/straighten the back shoulder line?

  8. Hm. No, all I did to the back was lengthen the shoulder seam on the neckline side. So maybe that's not it.

    But wouldn't the back of the original draft pull the front over, creating a bubble in the front neckline? It did on the tissue when I tried to force them to to match...more so than putting a bubble where the bust shaping should be. But,the drape/stretch of the fabric would behave differently than tissue paper, so maybe that wasn't an accurate assessment?

  9. Yes, I think you're probably right about the stretchy knit behaving differently than tissue paper.

    But I think you probably did a good thing shortening that front piece to reduce the tendency toward a bubble.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing what you did. It's always fun to think through the ramifications of drafting and altering patterns.