Saturday, 18 January 2014

FITTING: By Hand London 'Anna' muslin/toile, adjustments for my erect shoulders (part 2).

Huh??? What is an erect shoulder??? I googled to find out more in order to accurately diagnose my sewing issue, and the results page was mortifying to view.
Advice: don't google the words "erect" and "back" in the same sentence.

Thank you to every one on Twitter and those that commented on my last blog post with advice. Without you guys I'd either throw out the Anna and give up on sewing completely or I'd hem the dress shorter at the back and live with the dipping waist seam. Every one has said that my shoulder seam sits too far back therefore causing the front bodice to ride up.

So it seems I have erect shoulders. Not sure if this is a good thing or not?? I always try to stand tall with my shoulders back. The trainers at my gym have drilled into my head the importance of standing tall ("chest out, butt out, sternum *something-something*") so I guess this is proof that I have alright posture?

I don't understand, if erect posture is a good thing, why don't RTW clothes and pattern companies design patterns to accommodate this? I feel like I'm being punished for having "good" posture.

I tried on a RTW dress and noticed that the shoulder seams also sit back (about 1.5cm). I pulled the seam forward to straighten the waist seam and marked on my shoulders where the seam should sit to achieve a straight waist seam.

I've taken some more photos to explain the issue. The waist seam is sitting above the yellow measuring tape. The markings on my door strongly confirm that the issue is my front bodice is riding up.

Erect shoulder issue
LEFT PIC: How the waist seam/dress sits naturally on my body.
RIGHT PIC: How the waist seam/dress sits after I pull the shoulder seams forward.
Hopefully you can see the shoulder seam clearly in this photo.
Pen mark on my shoulder is where seam should sit to achieve a straight waist seam.
Left shoulder seams sits 3cm back from mark.
Right shoulder sits 2cm back from mark (could be due to my right boob being the smaller one).

I should point point out that I have had this issue ever since I started sewing so I don't think it is the design of Anna. I used to assume it was because I drafted my own skirts or because I didn't have a Kim Kardashian butt. I also suspected I had a sway back.

Fitting issue:
  • Shoulder seams sitting too far back - 3cm back on left shoulder, 2cm on right shoulder. Difference could be due to my right boob being smaller than the left?)
Which has resulted in:
  • Waist seam/front bodice is riding up at the front
  • The waist seam appearing like it's dipping/tilting towards the back (but in actual fact it's just riding up at the front, as per photos)
  • Dress hem is longer at the back
How to fix:
I've been told that I simply add the 3cm on to the back shoulder seam.
But I also saw somewhere on the internet that I need to then subtract 3cm from the front shoulder seam.
There was also an "erect back tutorial" that advised to take a wedge out. Thanks for linking me to the tutorial Sew Little Time!

I'm still trying to get my head around there being such thing as "erect shoulders" so may keep pondering (aka tweeting about it, googling 'erect back', sighing every time I walk pass my sewing room). When I fully understand the logistics behind the fix I will cut out another bodice muslin.

How do I make the add length to the shoulder seams without affecting the neckline and armholes, as they fit well right now.

If anyone knows how to fix this issue, please comment :)
I'm sure after I fix this erect shoulder issue, I'll run into some more fitting issues. Oh the joys of sewing, always keeping me on my toes!


  1. Adding to the back shoulder and subtracting from the back will make the seam sit straight on your should but it won't change the waist seam /skirt hem issue. You'll need to actually remove fabric from the whole back to straighten the waist seam. Since I am at home I have checked fit for real people. It says to take a tuck at centre back until waist seam is level. If you think lack of butt could contribute then you might want to pull skirt up at waist seam until hem is level

    1. I'll try the dress on again tonight and see how much the shoulder seam bothers me. If I'm fine with how it sits, I'll just take a wedge out of CB as you and Gingermakes/Sonia suggested. I'll also check if the waist is sitting at the waist. Thank you so much for your help!!

  2. Huh - this explains a lot about RTW shirts and dresses for me. I have fairly broad shoulders, plus pretty good posture (years of ballet indoctrination) and I just noticed the same thing with the shoulder seams on the RTW shirt I'm wearing. Definitely something to remember as I get my head around fitting (I'm new at sewing for myself)

    1. There is so much to get my/your head around!! Two and a half years into sewing and my fit still isn't correct :( *cries*

  3. Call a dictor for an erect shoulder lasting longer than 4 hours.

    1. Heheheh thanks for putting a smile on my face. This dress is stressing me out!!

  4. I agree with Joanne-- I think you should take a wedge out of CB until it sits level. That's probably the easiest fix!

    1. Thanks hun. If taking a wedge our of the CB will also pull the front of the skirt in and get rid of that baby-bump looking bulge then I'll just do it this way. Leave the shoulder seams as they are!

  5. I've just consulted the tome on my desk (Fitting and Pattern Alteration) it suggests that shoulder seams which lie behind the shoulder tip are the result of a forward shoulder joint. It also points out that erect back issues show up as excess fabric which sags into loose horizontal wrinkles across the upper back (couldn't see whether that was happening in your pictures or not). Happy to give you more info from this book if you think it helpful :)

    1. Forward shoulder joint.. is this causes by me sitting at computers? :(
      I'd love more info on from the book, if you could email me that would be great!!
      I have a few little wrinkles, but nothing that bothers me too much, it was the dipping waist line that got my attention. I'll take everyone's advice and take a wedge out, but I'd love to see what the book suggests!

  6. Hi I'm no expert but I watched the neck back shoulder adjustments class on craftsy over xmas. The section on shoulders high lights the problem you are experiencing. I would do the shoulder adjustment first, ie you need to bring the shoulder seam line forward by adding to the back and subtracting at the front or you will end up enlarging the armhole by mistake!!! then do your waist/back alteration. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Savvysista! Definitely don't want to enlarge the arm holes!!!

  7. I've got the same 'erect back' thing happening, though I think of it as a short back. I've also had exactly what you have here happen to me as well. I don't think it's so much an issue with the shoulder seam as the differing lengths needed between front and back. I had a top this happened to once and I adjusted the shoulders and it didn't make any difference. gah!

    Basically it takes a lot more fabric length to cover the front from shoulder to front-waist than it does shoulder to back-waist. If you don't have that balance right, it affects everything and the waist at the front pulls up which then makes the back pull down further as the dress kinda rotates around your armholes, and basically it's a very annoying mess.

    If you want to know what I'd suggest ...I'd start by working out where the waist seam for this pattern SHOULD be on you. Then work out where the shoulder seam should end up on you. From there, measure down from the shoulder, over the bust to the top of the waist seam, record it.
    Next measure the side seam from where you want the top of that to come to, down to where the waist seam should be at the side.
    Ditto for the back to the waist seam, measuring from the same point on the shoulder as you did the front, (So when you do adjustments, you're comparing apples to apples!)

    Then get out the pattern, and do the same measurements on it (taking off seam allowances) and compare them.
    To get the fit right, you need to adjust the front and back pattern pieces separately to the right length (I don't find I need more than a 1cm or 2 max ease in the length).
    However you have to make sure the side seams are the same length as each other, and the right length for your body.
    You might need to add wedges to the front (typically at the bust, like a full bust adjustment but not adding any width) to increase it's length. You might need to take out wedges at the back, similar to sway back, but I find it's better if I take it out in a few small places along the back. (I need one taken out at the middle of the armscye coz I'm short there, it's a matter of learning what works on your particular body.)

    Anyway, I'm not that great at diagnosing from a picture, so I could be totally wrong, but that's my take from my own experience :-)

    1. Thank you so much for your detailed explanation!! Really appreciate your insight into this situation. I'll let you know how I go with my next muslin. I could really do with a in-house sewing/measuring buddy right about now!! :)


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