Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fixing a Too Low Armhole

As promised here is a post on how I fixed that nasty situation when an armhole is way too low and your bra is showing way too much. It shouldn't be showing at all. This is the Cynthia Rowley dress I picked up for the wedding. You are seeing it after the alteration. I believe you all know what this issue looks like so you don't need to see my armpits for further explanation, just TMI.
While Sis and I were scooting around getting ready for the service I asked her to take a pic of my armhole to show the result. Obviously, she took a pic of more than the armhole! I really wished the camera showed off this fabric better. It is a silver metallic linen, subtle and lovely. Back to armpits....
The dress is fully lined but the yoke in the front is self faced and connects to the lining at the bottom edge of the yoke and at the shoulder seams. With a combination of razor blade, pelican scissors and a dental pik, I unstitched the lining from the edges of the armhole, aka, the understitching. Of course underneath lay the smallest of seam allowances so don't be too rough and get them to unravel.
You can see the outside shoulder seam. This needs to come apart.  Press your SAs nice and flat. Now it is time to do a little measuring. I took my outer shoulder seam in 1/4 inch at the neckline and angled out to a half inch at the shoulder edge. You may be different depending on the slope of your shoulders. My amount pulled the bottom edge of the armhole  up a good inch .I also had to deal with the little studs but they were really no problem and came out fine.
Stitch your new seam and press it open. A seam roll or better yet, a wooden dowel, makes it easier to get inside and iron it open. Remember, iron flat, iron it open, then iron the right side.

Trim back the SAs with pinking shears. It is easier to get in and do than serging at this stage. You are kind of working inside out here so make it easy on yourself.
 
Turn the shoulder back right side out now, like you would be wearing it.  Give those edges a good hard press. Watch out for the lining. It may not take the heat as well. If you haven't done it yet, unstitch the lining shoulder seam. Press the lining SAs flat. 


Now take the front shoulder lining/facing and pin it down to the dress shoulder matching as best possible the already factory pressed edges. It helps to use an ironing board and ham to get this to lay right. You want to favor the dress side of this edge, meaning the lining side of this edge is a bit shorter so it won't be seen from the outside while wearing. Hand stitch this facing SA to the dress shoulder SA. Do not go through to the dress. You are only stitching SAs together.  Trim as needed to have slightly graded SAs.
 
Now take the back lining shoulder and flip it up and over the the pinned front shoulder. Trim as needed and turn under the lining SA. Pin all your edges as before. 

Now it is time to hand sew. First fell stitch down your shoulder seam. Then do the same with the neck and armhole edges. Give it a good press inside and outside and you should be good to go. 

 

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A pic of the tee shirts we all wore to cheer on our running newlyweds!.....Bunny







13 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this, Bunny. Excellent explanation of the fix to a common fit issue with RTW.

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  2. Your dress looks wonderful now. I dislike doing alterations but they are rewarding in the end.

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  3. You look so good in your dress. Great fix for the armhole.

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  4. I can see the beautiful fabric quite well in that one close up shot...gorgeous!
    You were very brave to tackle this alteration without your usual sewing tool arsenal, Bunny. It turned out beautifully & looks just perfect on you.

    You said your sister had the same issue but tackled it differently. Do tell?

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    1. She is taller as you can see so did not need as much alteration. What she did need was to decrease the bust as well so for her just taking in the side seam and thus putting it closer to the body worked well for her. When that side seam is too wide at the bottom of the armhole it provides one healthy show of bra. Taking it worked just right for her. I did not have that fabric to spare in the bust area plus the armhole dropped lower on my dress. Great question, Rett.

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  5. That is a lovely dress. Love the trim around the neck edge. Sometimes it is worth buying RTW. Did I understand your instructions correctly in that you shortened the armhole opening by taking in the shoulder seam. It worked beautifully with this style of dress. It doesn't appear there are any side seam bust darts on your dress. If a dress had them, wouldn't there be a potential to change the position of side seam darts using this method. I guess you could re-sew them too if they moved above the bust point.


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    1. You are so right, Audrey. I find most petites need the length reduced from apex to shoulder seam and I think in most situations, for petites, it would move the bust dart in to the proper position. For the taller among us it could be problematic and moving the bust dart may be required.
      No darts in this shift but I think maybe some of that was rotated to the yoke seam possibly?
      Great observations!

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  6. Masterful alteration and no one would suspect from the outside...I can tell you have done this a couple times before in your career!All those petites out there...take notice...this is magic and the directions for the lining repositioning and hand stitching superb!

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    1. It's high praise to get such words from the Queen of Alterations. Thanks, J.

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  7. Thanks Bunny, for this thorough explanation. That is a lovely dress!

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  8. loved your dress and well done on the alteration (I hate doing alterations grrrrrrrrr) Hope you all had a great day.

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  9. Great alteration! Your hand stitching is impeccable.

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  10. What beautiful work! So happy to have discovered your blog.

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