Our sewalong marches onward; so far we’ve covered fabric coatings and tailoring supplies, and today we’ll be talking about fitting raglan sleeves and shoulders (I’ll be posting a full bust adjustment shortly). In my humble opinion, Clare is fairly easy as far as fitting goes. Since it has an a-line shape and lots of hip ease, I don’t think you really need to worry about grading between bust/waist/hip sizes. Choose your size based on your bust measurement and focus on the fit through the bust and shoulders; you can always take a little out of the coat width later through the side seams if necessary. As always, I suggest whipping up a quick muslin, especially if you’ve had bust or shoulder fitting issues in the past.
If you have forward, broad, square or narrow shoulders, it is quite easy to make adjustments on a two piece raglan sleeve like Clare. It’s often just a matter of adding or removing a little from the shoulder seams. When you’ve assembled your muslin, check to see if you have any drag lines as they generally point to the problem. With a 5/8″ seam allowance, you should have enough wiggle room to make small adjustments, but if shoulders have been contentious for you in the past, cut a 1″ seam allowance in this area. Please note that any changes you make to your body pieces will have to be transferred to your lining pieces as well!
In the illustrations below, red = remove and blue = add.
If the shoulder seam line is not sitting on the center of your shoulders but rather further to the back, you probably have forward shoulders, a super common adjustment in today’s computer age. To correct, shift the shoulder seam forward on the back sleeve and remove the same amount on the front sleeve so you are effectively pushing the entire seam forward.
If your shoulders are more squared off and less sloping, you can easily add a little wedge to front and back shoulder to correct.
The narrow shouldered among us can simply shave off extra fabric along the seam lines of front and back sleeve; pin out the excess and transfer to your pattern pieces. Alternatively, you can always add shoulder pads to your coat for a quick fix.
If your coat feels tight across your back shoulders, you may need to add a little width. The easiest way to do this is to add a little wedge along the seams where the back raglan sleeve connects to the center back. Keep in mind that if you add any width along the neck, you will have to add the same amount to your collar piece and neckline using the slash and spread method.
If you find the sleeves to be too full for your liking (they are somewhat generous to allow for sweaters), you can shave it off from the outer seam. If you’d like to take off more than 1/2″, I’d split the difference between inseam and outer seam.
Similarly, if you’d like more room in your sleeves, add to each outer seam.
These are fairly basic fitting adjustments, all taken from Fit For Real People, a great reference. I also suggest The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting for a more indepth raglan sleeve fitting tutorial. I will be back shortly with a full bust Clare adjustment!