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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Shoulder & Neckline Pattern Fitting Tips from Emma

Emma Seabrooke is a sewing friend who I respect.  I’ve subscribed to her newsletter, and I recommend you do as well.  I miss seeing her (along with others) at the sewing expos where we all used to gather, so I’ve decided to visit their websites.  While there, I subscribe to their newsletters to ‘keep up’.  I hope you’ll consider doing the same as I introduce and share some of their wisdom with you here at my blog.  Here is Emma’s website where you can subscribe to her newsletter:

I’ve learned LOTS from Emma and I know you will too.

One of the most important things was that LIGHT rots clear elastic!

We also agree firmly that we prefer a STRAIGHT STITCH for sewing on knits – NOT a zigzag stitch.  Not even a very narrow(.5) zigzag stitch.  I agree with her, and taught in my Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How DVD that a longer stitch length (3.0) with a good polyester thread will stretch just fine – meaning it won’t pop, or break stitches.  I can’t help but stick in here that I’ve extended my FREE Knit Pattern PDF with purchase of that DVD set at just $27.50.  That amazing offer is good through March 13.  Find it HERE.

As we bend over our sewing machines, sergers, and just plain age, our shoulders roll forward. I see this on myself as well – sorry to say. Emma addresses this need in her January Newsletter with Fitting Tips.

“All garments with shoulders should be fitted starting at the shoulders (as per Coco Channel ). Most Patterns and Ready to Wear have shoulders that are too far to the back. Most females have a forward shoulder unless they have been a swimmer or a weight lifter in their youth. We need to start at the shoulders to create the perfect line for your body and the drape of the garment. Stand with your face forward and looking straight ahead. With one hand feel the muscle that runs down behind your ear to your neckline. Continue a line to the shoulder where it attaches to the arm. Just before the arm there is knob, that is the beginning of where your arm is. If you have some scrap fabric that you could use to create a front and back that only comes to the bust line (no sleeves and a lowish neckline) this would help you to correctly fit the shoulder line. A lot of times when fitting a student I remove the front shoulder from the pattern and attach it to the back shoulder. There is sometimes a slant and this can only be seen by a sewing friend as you have to stand facing to the front and not turning to look into a mirror. See  Example #1 in the diagram below.

Once you find the knob, place one finger beyond the knob and that would be the stitching line for a sleeveless top. See Example #2.  Place two fingers beyond the knob and that would be the stitching line for a tee with sleeves. See Example #3. Place three fingers beyond the knob for a cardigan stitching line. See Example #4. DO NOT forget to add a seam allowance. These very simple measurements are pretty accurate and simple, they are also basically for the use with light weight fabrics and knits. The measurements do not always work for heavy fabrics, suits, woven fabrics, shoulder pads, and heavy over jackets.”

Then, in February, she shared about Necklines.

“Most sewing ladies do not have a problem with lower scoop necklines or V necklines as they go down more into the body. As you get closer to the actual neck then you can get into more problems. The tip I sent out last month was about the shoulder line and the placement of where it should be on you. Don’t try to fit a higher neckline if you have not fixed the shoulder line. If you are using a non-adjusted shoulder there is a good chance that the shoulder falls too far back and therefore pulls the neckline to the back as well. So make sure you have the shoulder correct and that will help a lot.


To find the highest point that a high round neckline or a boat neck should go, or an attached collar such as a crew neck, turtle neck, mock turtle neck, collar stand etc., should be attached, find your collar bone and right in the center of your neck your collar bones are attached by a horseshoe type bone that has two knobs at the top. No neckline or an attached collar should be attached above that point (this is the stitching line not the seam allowance). That is a choke point and just above it is where a tracheotomy would be performed and therefore a touchy spot. If you have trouble with turtle necks maybe you have a short neck but most likely the stitching line where the turtle neck is attached to the garment is above the knobs on the horse shoe. Bring the stitching line down and the collar will not press against the neck and choke you. See left-hand side of image below.

The back neckline is found by putting on a light weight chain such as you would use for a cross or lavaliere and then walking around for a couple minutes to let the chain settle in. Where it lays on the back neck is the highest point for a neckline or to attach a collar. See right side of image above. Once you find these two spots you can connect to each other using a curved rule.”

Sew….go check out Emma’s website and subscribe to her Newsletter.  Give her a quick Hello and tell her that Londa sent you!

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