The shoulder seam should fall at the corner of your shoulder bone. This point is the area on your shoulder farthest from the center of your chest.
It would be easy to know if your shoulder seam is located on your garment right where it should be.
You would know if your top is a good fit if your shoulder seam is directly on the edge of your shoulder. There would be no wrinkles or pulls along the front and back of your shoulders.
The armholes should feel comfortable when you move and should not feel too tight to cut into your underarm. You should also avoid excessive space. An easy way to check this is by tucking your shirt into your pants – if by lifting your arms 45 degrees your shirt is lifted out of your pants more than an inch or so, your armholes are likely too low.
If the armhole is too small, the shoulder seam will ride up, making your top look and feel uncomfortable. On the one side, your top will look and feel sloppy if your shoulder seam goes beyond your shoulder bone.
To construct this shoulder seam type, you need to sew the bodice pieces first.
When you create the shoulder seam at the shoulder point, it is referred to as a set-in sleeve. The sleeve will provide the volume and curve for the shoulder.
The proper fit of your shoulder seam is crucial to looking put together. The shoulder seam should sit at the end of your shoulder with your arm at right angles with it. If the seam falls down your arm, it means it is too big. And if it is nearer your collarbone, then it is too small. Your arm should also be able to move freely in the armhole.
Although, this concept of having the shoulder seam resting on the edge of the shoulder bone does not always ring true to all garment tops because not all tops are sewn with set-in sleeves. There are other ways to sew the shoulder seam and, this is where the dropped shoulder seam comes in.
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What is a dropped shoulder seam?
A dropped shoulder seam is made when the armhole position or shoulder seam falls on the top of your arm area and below your shoulder point.
A dropped shoulder seam’s position contrasts to the set-in sleeve, where the shoulder seam sits right on top of the shoulder point.
The dropped shoulder seam has variations that create different styles for a top.
Slight Drop Shoulder
If you are creating only a slight drop on the shoulder seam, you can place the vertical seam for the armhole just below the shoulder point. A slight drop in the shoulder or armhole seam means that the sleeve pattern does not need easy curving around the shoulder.
When making a fitted style top, the shoulder curve will need to be split between the bodice pattern and the sleeve pattern. The size and shape of the bodice and sleeve now define the shoulder curve.
The slight drop shoulder is created by taking the volume away from the sleeve head, and a part of it is built into the bodice pattern instead.
Oversized Drop Sleeve
You can still create a dropped shoulder on a loose-style top. You will have an oversized drop-sleeve blouse. You need enough fabric to drape around the shoulder and armhole area to create this style.
You can also achieve an oversized drop sleeve by enlarging the size of the armhole on your bodice pattern. You will accomplish this by making the underarm lower and extending the shoulder line to provide more space for your arm to move.
Also, the sleeve pattern will have a lower and wider sleeve head curve to fit the new armhole shape and size. Both bodice and sleeve are oversized so that the armhole seam drops off the shoulder point.
When designing a top, you are not limited to the traditional fitted armhole shape and size. Some tops created today do not follow the traditional silhouette of the bodice to provide more room for the arm to move. The downside is using more fabric to achieve the oversized style. Also, not all body types would look appealing wearing an oversized top.
How should a drop shoulder fit?
The fit of a drop-shoulder garment is oversized and sweat-shirty. A drop shoulder top will look less tailored than a set-in sleeve garment.
It is wider overall than a set-in sleeve version of the same clothing style because of the larger measurements used for the bodice and the sleeves.
Drop shoulder clothing is not very flattering because they tend to hide the body’s shape underneath. It will help if you use a fabric with the right amount of drape to compensate for the bulkiness of the style.
Drop shoulder garments are supposed to be oversized and not body-conscious. But if you want to lessen the worry of having to wear it sloppy, start by making them in average and longer lengths because short and fitted torsos do not go well with big shoulders. That is also why you should avoid a full-hour glass shaping.
Some people also say that drop-shoulder sleeves can make you look bigger. Sloped silhouettes with no shoulder seams will broaden your upper body and create the illusion that you look wider than you actually are. That is why wearing a sleeveless crew neck will make your arms look skinnier, even if more fabric is covering your chest area.
Different people have different sizes, body contours and one garment design may look good on a person but not on another.
Below are five types of armholes made for various clothing designs. Read on to know which one best suits your body’s silhouette.
- Drop Shoulder
- Modified Drop Shoulder
The set-in armhole is the type that follows the shape of your body. The shoulder seam on a set-in is at the point where the arm joins the body. The armhole created is tailored to your body shape, making your garment look well-fitting.
The set-in sleeve head is bell-shaped, and the armhole at the bodice is curved at the base then worked straight to the shoulder.
The drop shoulder armhole has no shaping. The bodice is a rectangle from hem to shoulder. Wearing a drop shoulder garment always looks like wearing oversized clothing. But it is not equal to being sloppy.
A drop shoulder top may look oversized for a petite but large-busted person. But pairing it with leggings will give balance to your attire. You can also look good wearing a close-fitting drop shoulder sweater if you have a small bust and normal or wide shoulder.
You can modify the drop shoulder style by nipping at the underarms of your bodice a bit. You can cut 2 inches maximum at each underarm of the bodice, but most modified drop shoulder tops usually snip only an inch each.
The effect is similar to the drop shoulder style with slightly less fabric on the bodice. The sleeves have the same shape and size as the drop shoulder style.
The armholes created are diagonal for the raglan style for the sleeves and the bodice. The garment parts are made of the front and back bodice, and the two sleeves are like four cones that you need to join together to achieve a tailored fit with a sporty look, evoking the raglan style.
The raglan design is great for women because it narrows from bust to shoulder, just like the set-in style. The raglan style can be flattering when worn because it is somehow structured to your body profile, but it is not as tailored as the set-in shoulder style, so it looks more suitable for a sporty and casual look.
The Dolman is the unique one. It is different in construction and shape than the others. It is also different in how the sleeve is joined to the bodice because there is none.
The basic Dolman shape is the T-shape where the sleeves join the bodice at 90 degrees. The sleeves are one with the bodice. You can achieve the style by joining the cuff to cuff, hem to underarm in a seamless fashion.
Dolmans are usually drapey and elegant with their wide and dramatic sleeve. The style does not require much tailoring at the upper body because of its seamless construction. Dolmans are usually batwing or T-shape style, characterized by a lack of seams or lines at the armhole.
How do you sew a drop shoulder sleeve?
Sewing a drop shoulder sleeve is like sewing a set-in sleeve with little alterations at the shoulder seam area. All you need to do is extend your seam below the shoulder bone. It would be best to sew the vertical seam for the armhole between the shoulder point and the top of the arm.
If you want to sew a basic drop shoulder sleeve top, read below for the steps you can follow.
- Cut two fabric pieces 27 inches in length or depending on the length of top you want. Fold one by the middle and mark one for the back bodice while the other one is for the front bodice.
- Cut each of the front and back bodices from a drop shoulder pattern you created.
- Fold the bottom edge once at ¼ inch to the inside, then sew the edge. You can opt to fold another ¼ inch again along the edge then sew to have a smoother and cleaner finish.
- Join the two fabrics with the right sides together at the shoulder seams.
- Cut out the sleeve fabric pieces. Finish the other side of the sleeve fabric with a rolled hem.
- Topstitch the edge keeping the seam allowance of the edge to the inside.
- Sew the side seams of the bodices. With the wrong side of the fabrics out, sew the side seams from the sleeve edge to the hem. Do this for both sides.