Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Fitting The Neck and Shoulders
The location and length of the shoulder seam vary with the type of garment, with the individual figure, and with the shoulder effect desired. Generally, the seam lies along the top of the shoulder and should not be noticed from the front or the back when the dress is worn. However, on a round-shoulder woman, it may be well to place slightly back of the normal line and cut the neck line high in the back. This makes her look more erect. On the overly erect person, the is more becoming directly on top of the shoulder.
The normal neck line should be made on a nicely curving line, lying close to neck at the sides and back and comfortably snug but not tight. A cord or short chain around the neck helps to show the normal curve of the neckline (figure 3). This curve has as landmarks the prominent neck bone at the back of the neck and the point just above the collarbone at center front.
Always allow at least a 3/8 inch seam when you shape of pin the neck line. Most neck line alterations require changes in the shoulder seams as well.
When fitting shoulders, first see that the crosswise grain of the goods is kept straight at and above the bust. Also keep the lengthwise yards of the waist parallel to the center back and front. To do this, it may be necessary to rip the seam and change the amount and place of the shoulder fullness. Darts may be used to take up extra fullness If necessary, take up or let out the shoulder seams so as to place them correctly (figure 3). This may mean letting out one side of the seam more than the other or making the depth of one end of the seam more or less than the regulation amount.
Shoulder Line too long. --- This makes the armhole line fall too far down on the arm, and often pulls the neck line from the side of the neck.
A dress may be too long on the shoulders because the figure has narrow shoulders in proportion to the bust, and the pattern was selected by the bust measurement. In such cases, the should have been altered before the dress was cut.
Sometimes widening the shoulders by adding shoulder pads, if they are in style, will resolve the problem.
A slight amount of extra shoulder length can be removed by trimming the armhole over the top. But be careful--if you cut out much, the armhole will be too big for the sleeve.
Another way to remove extra shoulder length in the dress is to make small darts at the back of the neck to pull up the shoulder slightly.
If the shoulder line is much too long, rip the shoulder seams. Put the extra length into small tucks at the back of the neck line or in the back shoulder seam. Take up the extra width in the front shoulder seam with tucks or shirring.
Shoulder Line is too short. The pattern was too narrow across the shoulders and should have been widened before being used. If the material is firmly woven, a small amount can be added to the shoulders by taking smaller seams than originally planned. In most cases, however, there is no remedy except to piece the blouse in such a way that the shoulders are lengthened and the piecing becomes a part of the design.
Diagonal wrinkles from the shoulder tip to center front or back. The armhole send of the shoulder seam appears strained. The Shoulder seams stands up from the shoulder line near the base of the neck (Figure 4, A).
The shoulders are too square for the shoulder line of the garment. For a slender figure, the best method is to rip the shoulder seam and lift it at the neck until the wrinkles are removed. Gradually slope the seam to the shoulder tip, keeping its direction correct (Figure 4, B). Pin and mark the shoulder seam. If it is a high-necked dress and this adjustment makes the neck a trifle too small, clip the neck line--avoid clipping into the seam line. If the neck is too tight, recut it by the pattern. (See also Neck Line Too High or Too Tight, future reference).
For stout figures and if the seam is wide enough, let out the shoulder seam at the armhole line (figure 4, C). Then draw a new stitching line from the neck to armhole line and stitch. This gives a little extra room in the armhole. It requires increasing the sleep-cap length by trimming out a little at under part of sleeve cap. Avoid making the armhole too deep.
Folds from sides of neck toward armholes. These slanting folds form when the base of the neck is large or shoulders slope more than the pattern allows (figure 5, A). First try shoulder pads (if they are in style) to square off the shoulders of the garment. If this is not satisfactory and the neck line is close-fitting across the back, clip the neck edge in a few places---but not as deep as the seam allowance. Or if the shoulder seam allowance permits, let it out at the base of the neck. Or take a little deeper seam allowance as the shoulder seam approaches the armhole (figure 5, B). This latter method removes wrinkles and raises the grain at the armhole but may leave the armhole too high under the arm. To alter this, see (see Fitting Neck and Shoulders, Part 6 -- Neck Line Too High or Too Low).
As this is getting extremely long, I will continue this section with the next post.