Across Shoulders, Across Front, and Across Back

callout3 Across Shoulders, Across Front, and Across Back

Some relationships are toxic, some relationships are paid for, and some relationships are an embarrassment that should only live in the past. Fortunately, this relationship – the relationship between across back, across shoulders, and across front – isn’t any of these. It’s a relationship that will stand the test of time, for better or for worst.
XBACK XFRONT XSHOULDERS1 Across Shoulders, Across Front, and Across Back
Across back, across shoulders, and across chest are POMs (tech jargon for points of measure) that are used to draft and gauge armhole shapes. Across shoulders is easy to find and measure – shoulder tip to shoulder tip. Across front and across back, however, are a little more difficult to locate and measure. Where is mid-armhole? Is it found by measuring along the curve of the armhole or straight from shoulder point to AH/SS? Because of this, there is a “standard” placement for across front and across back. For a size 6, across front and across back are 5” below HPS (another tech jargon term for high point of shoulder). Since these points grades 1/8”, subtract or add that amount (1/8”) to locate across front and across back placement for your size.

At my last job (as of a week ago, I worked in the technical design department for this fashion company), the first thing that was done to a fit sample when it arrived in-house was to measure it. In addition to critical POMs such as body length, armhole length, and bottom sweep, across front, across shoulders, and across back were measured. The difference between these POMs would tell us whether the armhole shape would be good or god awful before we even put the garment on the form. Too big of a difference meant that the armhole would be too scooped and if it was a sleeveless shirt, it would gape. Too little of a difference meant that the armhole would not be scooped enough.

For a woven, across front should be approximately 1 ½” less than across shoulders and across back should be ½” less than across shoulders. So if my across shoulders is 13 ½”, then my across front should be 12” and my across back should be 13” (these are actual measurements from my block – I’m not making it up). Because knits stretch, the difference between these three POMs can be greater. For a knit, across front should be approximately 2” less than across shoulders and across back should be approximately 1” less than across shoulders.

Everyone’s body curves different, yes, so this should not be used as an absolute rule but as a guideline. When I evaluate a pattern, I use this formula as a guide for analyzing its armhole shape and when I draft an armhole, I’ll use this to guide how I draw the curved shape. It’s just another trick of the trade. Enjoy!

tags: Fashon, Pattern Making Comments: 19

19 Comments
  1. anto

    great post, as always. This is so interesting and I’m learning so much from your blog, so thank you very much for that!
    it’s so inspiring to get insights of how things work in a real and successful company.

    Reply
  2. VickiKate

    Hey Maddie! I’m enjoying learning about arms etc as this is always my biggest fitting nightmare. I’m curious too, are you working in a new department? You mention your ‘last job’. I hope the change is positive!

    Reply
    • VickiKate

      Oops, of course! You’re blogging for them now! It’s early here, that’s my excuse!

      Reply
  3. Thewallinna

    Thanks for the interesting post! One of my UFO has some armhole fitting issue. BTW, have you ever though of writing a book with sewing tips? It would be a best-seller!

    Reply
    • Maddie964

      You’re such a gem! I eventually want to write a book, yes, so I know I will have at least one buyer (you!). First on the list, though, is patterns.

      Reply
      • Thewallinna

        WOW! I would love to learn more from you! Many books on patternmaking that I currently use are from the 60th to 80th. Nothing wrong with that, but the style they are written is just not very modern. Looking forward to both your patterns and the book!

        Reply
  4. Anna A Hodge

    omg, this makes me miss school so much.  Amazing post, love. If you get a sec, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my latest post for LaurenConrad.com. xo

    http://www.fashboulevard.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Maddie964

      heading on over!

      Reply
  5. sallieforrer

    brilliant!! I actually think this is one of the big problems with the block i drafted awhile ago! Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Brianna

    When your department gets the samples in, is it like a quality control check?  If the measurements don’t seem right they get redesigned?  I’m really curious about this process. 

    Reply
    • Maddie964

      Brianna,

      Good question. No, it is not a quality control type of thing. We measure the garment for our record for two reasons. One is to have the garments specs before the fit so that after the fit, we can remeasure it and see how much it stretched (I worked in the knits, sweaters, and intimates department). We will have to make adjustments to the pattern if it stretches a lot during wear. We also measure the garment so that if any POM is “out of spec” (a number far from what we asked for), we can pay extra special attention to it during the fit. When the sample is at production stage, that’s when QC comes in and specs the production samples (rather than fit samples) before it hits stores as one final check. Make sense?

      Reply
  7. Lhutchsews

    This info is completley new to me. Thank you. Can’t wait to apply it to some of my current sewing projects.

    Reply
  8. Amy

    “Last job”?  Did I miss something?  Are you no longer working there?  If so, what’s next?!

    Reply
  9. Carrie Elias

    Hi Maddie!  Thanks again for your kind words about my grandma.  It’s nice to be back in the blog world reading your lovely posts <3

    Reply
  10. Jo

    I’m going to measure some stuff… armholes are drivin’ me nuts right now!

    Reply
  11. Amy

    Thanks for sharing these details–interesting! This would be helpful, too, if one was copying an existing garment. (Armholes are hard to copy–I’ve tried!)

    Reply
  12. Makes Her Mark

    I’m a little late to the game on this post, but I’m so excited to find it as armhole positioning has been bedeviling me as of late (oddly, I don’t want them positioned behind my actual arms!). My question is about sizing: you say that across front/back is 5″ below HPS for a size 6. Is this ready-to-wear sizing, or pattern sizing? Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Maddie Flanigan

      I’m glad you found this post informative!

      Good question – 5″ below HPS is for a size 6 in RTW

      Reply
      • Makes Her Mark

        Thanks!! Since you were talking about it in reference to work, that was my assumption, but sometimes that doesn’t work out so hot in sewing :)

        Reply

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