• Kaine

Pattern Drafting Theories #2 - The Shoulder Measurements

Dear readers,

Welcome back to my series called Pattern Drafting theories, where I examine different components of pattern drafting and how I perceive them from paper to real life scenarios, asking questions and proposing solutions. Final conclusions of these theories will not necessarily be reached.



Today we will be examining three main Shoulder measurements often used in drafting the Basic Bodice. The Across Shoulder, the Shoulder and the Shoulder depth. Depending on the technique you use, you will probably encounter at least 2 of these measurements. Before we begin, true confession, attaining the shoulder slope is one of my personal peeves in drafting and the battle is still ongoing. That being said, I am comfortable with the method I use in my tutorials until something better comes along.



1. The Across Shoulder (Full Shoulder) - This is the measurement taken from the end of one shoulder to the end of the other. Either taken across the Back or across the Front. Now, I'm not going to say which is wrong or right, but I will say that I'd prefer that a person use only one way per draft rather than both. I have found that the difference in the two is marginal which is why I prefer to take it from the Back as this gives the widest possible measurement and in drafting, when in doubt, the bigger is usually the better.


I use this measurement to determine width of the bodice at neck level, without delving into darts and all that for now. First, this measurement is technically not a straight line (See below) as it follows the slope of the shoulders, but we draw it as a straight line when drafting. This means that for the draft, we probably need a slightly shorter measurement than the one taken (Which is accounted for in some text books). Frankly, the only way to be accurate would be to use Calipers just to get the distance from shoulder to shoulder while skipping all the anatomy.


But, I have found that you do need a little ease in the shoulders in general, because of movements from your scapulae (shoulder blades), and this is why you often have shoulder darts on the fitted back bodice.


Another use of this measurement, is that it creates a limit for drafting the shoulder itself, and naturally works out the shoulder slope for you, which is a slippery topic in itself. Thus, if it is too narrow, the slope will the steep and if it is too wide, the slope will be shallow. A few things to consider is that the across shoulder measurement should probably be slightly wider or not less than the width of the chest. Or it should be a little less than the sum of the 2 shoulders and the Back neck width. Of course this measurement is not used if the shoulder slope/depth measurement is already given.