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Armhole: How deep do you cut it and what shape is best?


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#1 Schneidergott

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 07:54 AM

I find armholes very important. As we all know the shape of the armhole along with it's depth and width can turn an otherwise perfect garment into one that isn't worth the money spent on it.
There is the proportional system, which says (german version): 1/8 of chest + 1/16 of height + 0,5cm
the Rundschau system is kind of known for creating armholes that are on the deeper side, when the proportional system is used, so I guess the direct body measurements are more useful.

We all know how to measure, right? You put the tape around the customers neck and lead it under the arms to the back, keeping it horizontally straight. Then you mark the point and measure from neck down.

But how do you determine the proper depth of scye/ armhole for the customer? Do you keep the measurements taken to draft the pattern, or do you add some extra mm or fractions of inch straight away?

Here is some armhole that went completely wrong. It's from one of our MTM coats:


The chalk marks the scye depth:



The depth was 34cm measured from the neck. Strangely and fortunately the customer didn't complain about the armhole.

Something else we know is important is the shape of the armhole. How do you cut it? Tear drop shape, like shown in the T&C drafts or more straight like the german and italian style? And most important: Why do you cut it that way? What benefit might one shape have over the other(s)?








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"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#2 greger

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 06:00 PM

Any methods of drawing from the bottom of the scye up to the top to get shoulder slope?

#3 Schneidergott

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 09:32 PM

I'm not quite sure about what you mean, but in Rundschau drafts the regular amount is 2- 2,5cm. They draw a right-angled line from the neck point to the left and measure the back width on the scye line. Then square upwards. From the meeting point measure 2cm down (like in the italian draft).
To incorporate a different shoulder slope, either plus or minus, the Rundschau adds or subtracts the necessary amount to the scye depth measurement. That horizontal line squared to the left from the neck point remains the same, just measure down accordingly (less for high shoulders, more for low shoulders).
The instructions for the front part are a bit confusing, maybe they got things mixed up or I'm too stupid to get the meaning blush.gif . Basically it's the rear scye depth plus 2cm. That would be points 4 and 25 in the italian draft.
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"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#4 Terri

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 08:55 AM

What size(chest) is that jacket? What does the armhole measure? How much ease is allowed as compared to the customer's chest measurement?

It seems to me that 34 cm depth of scye is very deep, but it may be normal for the modern fitting suit jacket.
I use 1/2 the working scale when drafting the scye line and I drop approximately 1cm below that when drawing the armhole. I draft without seam allowances included in the armhole. So for a size 112cm chest it would be approx 27 cm..
This gives a much higher armhole than most modern RTW jackets, and consequently a smaller armhole.

As to the shape of the armhole, I find it depends on the style of the jacket and how that relates to the neck point (point 21 or point 9.6 in the illustrations.)
Generally speaking, as the neck point moves away from the CF, it closes the armhole up, making for a closer fit and therefore more of a teardrop to a rounded shape. It throws more fabric into the neckline and often requires a dart through the gorge line. You see this in many of the late 19th century drafting references.
As the neck point moves closer to the CF, the armhole opens up and the look is squarer and less close fitting in general. I see this in more modern drafting systems.


#5 jefferyd

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 01:36 AM

I don't like using girth measurements (including the scale) to determine scye depth because a short fat man can end up with a deep armhole (rather like SG's example).

I use a direct measure and add 1-2 cm for ease, sometimes more for American clients who don't like the feel of high armholes (as much as I try to explain it, as soon as they feel something they moan).

#6 Schneidergott

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 02:13 AM

Well, about that coat: It was approximatly size 57/59 (which indicates a belly type of figure, which is one we have to deal a lot with), so the description short and fat is right. I only remember the girth of the armhole, which was around 70cm. :shock:

I found several instructions for the scye depth, the one in my old german cutting manual was exactly like jefferyd's version, direct measurement plus some ease.
In my italian manual it was said not to exceed 26cm when it comes to scye depth, even for a heavy customer.

I use a direct measure and add 1-2 cm for ease, sometimes more for American clients who don't like the feel of high armholes (as much as I try to explain it, as soon as they feel something they moan).


Happens a lot here, too, and we do MTM only. I guess those men had been wearing loose RTW jackets, so they're not used to a fitted armhole. They just don't know what they are missing.

"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#7 jcsprowls

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 06:05 AM

I vote for direct measure, too.

At one time, I used to compare direct against proportional calculation; but, I don't, anymore.
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#8 Schneidergott

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 07:18 AM

Proportional systems are only as good as the people using them. Unfortunately most companies cut a deep armhole for the basic model, so with with grading the armhole gets bigger and bigger, even though it may not be necessary.
Those of you who work for RTW, what basic scye depth do you use? Fraction of the height might be a good idea, but I haven't seen any formula for that yet.
I took my actual measurements and converted them using the formula given in my book and result was 26cm, which is close to what I got after I was fitted.
Still, I do agree, direct measurements are better, but how do you deal with a customers wardrobe when he is measured up?
Not everyone wears a (bespoke) shirt with tight sleeves, so the cutter/ tailor may not get a clean result. Most of our customers (MTM) wear rather loose shirts, which cause some problems, too, when they try on their coats.
Would you advise your customers to get some tighter fitting shirts to make the higher armhole of the coat work?

"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#9 jcsprowls

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 08:37 AM

My stock patterns have a scye depth ranging from (40Y) 9 7/8" to (40R) 10 1/4" to (43P) 10 5/8". I make the scye deeper on the portly style because the range of motion is somewhat diminished.

My formula for locating the scye depth is to form the saddle (drape the tape around landmarks like you have pictured) and then measuring the depth using an L-square down the spine. I then add 5/8" or 1.5 cm to the direct measure value to locate the breastline as well as the base of scye.

One company I worked for insisted that all drafting measurements be rounded to the nearest 1/8", thus the 'weird' measure, above.

Proportional drafts only work for proportional forms. In other words, if the model is precisely 8 heads tall and 3 heads shoulder-to-shoulder, then it works more times than not. In practice, though, I think it falls apart, requiring multiple fittings. I think proportional measures are OK as a thumbnail measure in the absence of fact (i.e. direct measure); but, there are more elegant, simple solutions.

Case in point: I use the triangulation technique to locate the shoulder points before I add the thickness of the shoulder pad to the pattern. I don't have to guess the slope of the shoulder or whether the model fits a specific shape category - I just use the direct measure from baseline @ spine, to shoulder point, over the shoulder and directly down to the front base of scye. (Said another way: the 'strap' measure; but, instead of crossing the mid shoulder point, cross over the acromion process and record that additional point).

RE: shirts. I think of it like lining. The lining of the coat is larger than the shell so it slides around against the body. If the shirt is blousier, still, then it will pull up into the sleeve without binding. There is a limit. I also don't base the jacket draft on the shirt. Most customers wear shirts that don't fit, so I relied on it, I'd end up with a questionable fitting jacket (or, at least one that requires extra iteration to fit properly).
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#10 greger

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 08:59 AM

I don’t think tighter shirts matters, but a deep scye depth doesn’t work. The shirt scye should be a hair higher than the coat. The shirt scyes today are so deep I wonder if the designers and manufactures have lost their minds.

Poulins book has a table for scye depth for different body shapes, since proportional systems only work within certain body measurements. The picture 1 and 3 above is scye depth from nape plus a seam allowance or two, not sure what the 2nd picture is about. These are scye depth from the nape, which doesn’t include shoulder slope, so in that sense of the word it really isn’t scye depth. True scye depth is top of scye to bottom of scye. How does one do that? Finding the bottom of the scye is easy. Finding the top of the scye is harder and uses a method of finding shoulder slope. My question is how to find a top of the scye from the bottom of scye instead of from the nape down. So the process would go-
1) measure from the nape to bottom of scye
2) then, measure up to top of scye,
3) and that would also give shoulder slope.
The question is how to do number 2 accurately? I’m sure there are a number of ways to do it, but I have never seen or read of anyone doing it that way. Of course there is over the shoulder and so on, but I'm thinking of direct measure or proportional system. Poulin has table for scye depth, maybe there is a table for scye height?

I believe Poulin says the width of scye should be 1/3 scale or full chest.

The table in Poulins book is from some other group. I have a pdf of it and if I ever can get back into the old computer harddrives I’ll send it to somebody here to post.
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#11 jcsprowls

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 10:23 AM

The question is how to do number 2 accurately?


L-square... just insert it under the arm and use a straightedge at the shoulder point.

ASTM standard size charts have a scye depth measurement. That's what this number is - a measurement from the armpit to the shoulder point. The majority of 'mediums' range between 4 1/4" to 4 1/2".
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#12 jefferyd

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 11:50 PM

L-square... just insert it under the arm and use a straightedge at the shoulder point.

ASTM standard size charts have a scye depth measurement. That's what this number is - a measurement from the armpit to the shoulder point. The majority of 'mediums' range between 4 1/4" to 4 1/2".



Despite the fact the ASTM charts are riddled with glaring errors :angry: they tend to be my go-to reference, for lack of anything better. For the shoulder slope I now use a Perkins device (which SG managed to find for me in Europe- impossible to get here anymore) - a goniometer could be used as well.

#13 jefferyd

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:10 AM

Just for comparison smile.gif









#14 Schneidergott

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 05:44 AM

Oh boy, all this inch talk is making me wacko.gif
Anyways, I found this in my T&C magazines (not included in my compilation of drafts) and I think it adds to what has been said here before:


"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#15 jcsprowls

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 06:24 AM

a goniometer could be used as well.


Or a protractor marketed under the name True Angle
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#16 Schneidergott

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:29 AM

Interesting tool, unfortunately the cheapest seller doesn't ship to Germany, but I can look in local hardware stores.
I found a description of a korean way to measure the shoulder width and slope.



I have tried to add the translation, hope it makes sense.

Back to the subject of armholes: Has anybody an idea why most RTW and therefore MTM coats are (still) cut with such uncomfortable armholes?
Might be here in Germany only, but our coats have a side part which doesn't follow the natural shape of the back but is rather cut out deep and almost edgy. The coat looks fine when standing, but when you raise the arms the whole coat is lifted up to the ears, especially since the sleeves are cut narrow.
Are (middle of the road) RTW producers so afraid of higher armholes? Most customers I've met don't need the depth of the armhole they get, even when wearing a looser shirt.

This a chart for armhole depth (Rückenhöhe) and waist length (Taillenlänge) done by german mastertailor Fleig:



Even for the biggest size 56 (110 cm chest girth) at 198 cm height the armhole depth is "only" 27,2 cm, which is 8 cm less than the one in the Harris Tweed coat which was made for a stout guy. According to this chart it should have had about 10 cm less. Black Eye.gif

"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

"Es gibt keinen Grund mit Erfahrung zu prahlen, denn man kann etwas auch viele Jahre falsch machen!"
"There is no reason to boast of your experience, because it's possible to do things wrong for a long time!"


#17 Terri

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 09:50 AM

Has anybody an idea why most RTW and therefore MTM coats are (still) cut with such uncomfortable armholes?


Good question!
I certainly don't know, but I'd guess it could be that more body shapes can fit within a size range? But that seems silly.
Or perhaps the general population has no sense of quality of fit and equates looseness with comfort.
Maybe someone in the "industry" will spill the beans?
Is it lack of training? Or maybe a mistake that was made and somehow it was never corrected, and then it grew.

I think I am over- tired.
T

#18 jefferyd

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:02 AM

I'd guess it could be that more body shapes can fit within a size range?


^^This

perhaps the general population has no sense of quality of fit and equates looseness with comfort.


^^And this.

Maybe someone in the "industry" will spill the beans?
Is it lack of training?


Nope. Or at least, not always. Check the armholes above. Both were cut by RTW designers (cutters, whatever) but one was cut for a customer and one was cut for the cutter himself. The proportional system may be partly at fault for the low armholes, but the two biggest reasons that RTW armholes are so big is that they must fit the largest proportion of people possible, and that Americans, at least, squawk when they can feel the armhole and, as you put it, equate looseness with comfort. I would be more than happy to cut all my RTW armholes as high as that drape coat but the market resists.

Something else to consider when thinking about the bigness/ looseness of RTW. In another post on another forum, a retailer was talking about a new line of clothing he had just got in. His first two customers were a 46 and a 48. Tall, IIRC. His comments were, verbatim, "this stuff fit these guys great so I know it's a winner. If you can fit the big guys you can fit everybody". Add to that the store buyers who may have been a size 40 in their twenties and are convinced that they still are, trying on the samples and telling you they are too tight......

It's not because we don't want to make nice clothing with decent armholes and a nice shape....

Am I ranting?




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