December 26, 2006

Fixing a neckline

I started to deconstruct the Butterick pattern for my boy's shirt pattern fix. At this point, I am thinking it would be so much easier to start from scratch. More glaring problems showed up after looking closer. In the picture on the right, I lined up the shoulders of the shirt. I know, I did not align the pattern pieces along their true seam lines. In production sewing, though, the pieces are lined up along their cut edges, not sewing lines. If I did this, the sewing operator would bring this back to me as a mistake. Those edges should meet.

Also, look closely at the armhole shaping. The front armhole has a nice curve and the back is rather straight and flat. This was how I was formally trained in classic pattern making for adults. Adults require more shaping in front than in back around the arm. In children's pattern making, the patterns are made the same front to back, except for the neckline. This means the side seams, shoulders, and armhole shapings are exactly the same. Children do not require the extra shaping front to back. This is a typical industry method for children's patternmaking, especially infant and toddler. It is called the flat method by Aldrich.

Another problem not shown in the picture above are the side seams. The side seams swing out at the hem. I am guessing the patternmaker did this to accomodate an infant's protuding belly. Many babies have a belly until they get older. The assumption is that width must be added to accomodate the extra girth. The problem with Butterick's pattern is that it creates an a-line shirt. The photo on the pattern cover shows a plaid shirt. The side seams should be straight in order to match stripes and plaids. A basic shirt block already has extra wearing ease at the chest and waist. There is no reason to add even more room at the waist. I drew my side seams straight.

Here is my modified neckline. You can see the v-shaping more clearly. I rounded the neck, raised it at center-front, and made it smaller (my changes are in red). A 24 month old's neck measures about 10.125 inches. Butterick's neck measurement for a 24M is 15" - my modified neck is 14". I am thinking it is still too large. This is just my first rough pattern - I have a long way to go. Later, I will trace these off, with seam allowances. You can see I removed the cumbersome facing and created a double fold facing. Also, my back pattern is going to be exactly the same as my front, except for the neckline. You can see my back neckline above my front (red) neckline. I am going to double check neck measurements by measuring some necklines on some RTW shirts. When all else fails, see what your competition is doing.


  1. In traditional dressmaking the back shoulder seam is .5" longer than the front shoulder seam and the difference is eased in if no dart is drawn on the pattern. Perhaps Butterick just used this rule in this boy's shirt pattern?

  2. Another way to deal with the back shoulder dart is to relocated it to the neckline or armhole. The back shoulder dart is usually eliminated in a shirt block because it is a looser fitting garment. I am not sure exactly what they did with the shoulder dart on this pattern, if there was one. Further, children's patterns usually do not have a back shoulder dart because they do not need it. The shoulder dart is used to create extra shaping because of a rounded upper back - children don't have this problem. It is possible Butterick was using traditional patternmaking for adults, rather than children. That could be how some of the problems originated.

    If you were to remove the seam allowances, the shoulders do meet up perfectly - it's the cut edges that do not meet.