How to fit raglan sleeves with narrow shoulders // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files
Sewalongs

CLARE SEWALONG PT 4 // RAGLAN SLEEVE FIT ADJUSTMENTS

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.

SHOULDER ADJUSTMENTS

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.

FORWARD SHOULDERS

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.

How to fit raglan sleeves with forward shoulders // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

SQUARE SHOULDERS

If your shoulders are more squared off and less sloping, you can easily add a little wedge to front and back shoulder to correct.

How to fit raglan sleeves with square shoulders // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

NARROW SHOULDERS

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.

How to fit raglan sleeves with narrow shoulders // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

BROAD BACK

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.

Adjust raglan coat for broad back // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

THIN ARMS

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.

Adjust raglan sleeves for thin arms // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

FULL ARMS

Similarly, if you’d like more room in your sleeves, add to each outer seam.

Adjust raglan sleeves for full arms // Clare Sewalong // Closet Case Files

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!

  • Tyrion Miskell

    The time and effort you are putting into the Clare coat tutorials is spectacular! There is so much info and learning for beginners and advanced! Thanks, Heather!!

    • Thank you Tyrion! Appreciate the kind feedback.

  • Hélène

    The drawings make thing so clear. There is a wealth of information in this series of sew-along posts. Many thanks!

  • kellicousins

    This is fantastic! Thanks so much!

  • Catherine

    Hi, thanks for the great information. One thing I was wondering (given your comment about the coming FBA) is when you would choose a smaller size and do a FBA vs just selecting the size by your bust measurement? Also, what height is the pattern drafted for? Thanks!

    • Hi Catherine. The full bust adjustment post is here(http://closetcasepatterns.com/clare-sewalong-full-bust-adjustment-adjusting-length/). I would do an FBA if you are a C cup or above but if you’reo n the fence, that’s what muslin is for 🙂 And the pattern is drafted for someone who is 5′-6″.

      • Catherine

        Thanks. I was just trying to figure out whether I should cut a size smaller to get a good fit around the shoulders and elsewhere and do a FBA (I’m a C cup measuring in the size 14 range for the bust measurement but a 10 for the hips and I’m actually quite a small person so I thought maybe I should cut a 12 or 10 and do the FBA). Anyway, I am going to make a muslin so that should reveal all!