The great thing about sewing is that we are all designers and we are all able to get clothes that fit us well and make us look and feel even better.

But yet many people just sew up the patterns straight out of the envelope (or printer, as may be the case) with out enjoying the possibilities for individual fitting. Some may not do it, because they don’t know how.

SO I thought I would do a series on fitting and altering different kinds of t-shirt.

While there are many ways to fit garment and almost as many books instructing how to, most of them merely talk about fitting woven fabric garments. And while I’m a big fan of tissue fitting, it just will not work with a pattern with no or even negative ease.

According to Celia (The Palmer/Pletch instructor I interviewed for the Twin Needle podcast (a bonus episode from April ), the forward shoulder alteration is one of the most common needed alterations today.

This is because, as we spend more and more time at the computer and sewing machine, we round our shoulders bit by bit. Luckily it’s a very simple alteration!

I have quite a lot of forward-shoulder-ness (damn being in a computer literate family who had PC before anyone else and also sewing since child hood. And writing a lot… ;-)) – meaning that the outer part of my shoulder turns forward.

Forward shoulder alteration - why!

See? Very round (forward) shoulder – sorry for the lousy Iphone pic. What I could manage today..


This alteration is the  same whether you are working with a woven or a knit shirt. And I should mention that I’m just following the directions from Fit for real people (page 162).

I usually do a kind of big alteration of 12 mm (as I have very forward shoulders). To determine the amount you need, wear a shirt (with a shoulder seam, of course, raglan won’t work) and look in the mirror. Then place your finger at your shoulder point, and figure out how much you need (maybe getting somebody to measure it for you) to move the outer point of the shoulder seam.

The rest is easy:

You are moving the shoulder (outer) point of the shoulder seam towards the front, so you need to take some off the front shoulder and add some to the back shoulder:

Forward shoulder alteration

I’ve rotated the shoulder seam forward 1.2 cm (the red line) by taking it down in the front and up in the back


Then just adjust the seam allowances, too.

Forward shoulder alteration the final step.

Added seam allowances again (the broken lines) and I was done!



And voilá! Ready to cut!


Do you have any fitting issues you would like me to talk about here? Please let me know!