Miss Make

missmake.com · Jun 23, 2014

Tutorial: How to fix Armhole Gape in Knits

After finishing Version 1 of the Colette Moneta, I was totally in love with the dress except for one thing.

I had a major case of armhole gape.

This is not an uncommon problem for me. Armhole gape tends to afflict more cylindrical figures - meaning, narrow shoulders/ribcage but a fuller bust. If I gave my dress to another person that had the same bust measurement, but a wider ribcage and smaller bust (imagine a more oval cross-section than a round one), it might fit them perfectly. It is just a simple fact that different pattern brands fit various physiques differently. One of the joys of sewing is learning how to adapt them to fit your specific body shape.

So what can we do about armhole gape? When working with wovens, it's not really a biggie at all. You can pinch out the excess at the armscye, then transfer it to a bust dart as detailed in this tutorial.

After searching online, however, I couldn't really find much info about how to fix armhole gape without involving any darts, i.e., on knits. While I could have added a side dart, I really wanted to do it without.

So below is a tutorial for how I got rid of my armhole gape without adding a dart.

I'm sure there are multiple ways to do this. I'm not sure if this way is 'textbook' (probably not), or at all the best way to do it, but it's what my brain came up with. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions that are less convoluted, more logical or even just prettier, I'd love to hear in the comments!

First, let's talk about the fit. Here's a picture of the finished dress again, without the text:

You can see that there is a lot of extra fabric around the front of the armscye. (I failed to take a picture of the back, but the back fit very well.)

The first thing to do is the pinch out the extra fabric at the front of the armscye. It will naturally want to form a little dart there. Pin that dart in place.

My center neckline was also gaping in the front, so I pinched and pinned that a little as well.

Ah! Already so much better.

Now mark the pin placement with a marker and unpin.

I'd highly recommend tracing your front bodice pattern piece off to do the alterations. It takes about a minute, and if you end up making a mistake or want to start over later, you'll thank yourself. You can get rolls of tracing paper at art supply stores.

Using the pin marker dots, trace the dart onto your pattern piece. Remember to account for seam allowances when lining things up, and use your ruler to make the lines nice and straight.

Now, draw a line from the apex of the dart to the bottom center front corner.

Cut out your dart.

Now cut along the line almost all the way to, but not through, the end. You want to leave a little uncut so you have a tiny hinge of paper:

Now move the pattern hinges to overlap slightly so that the end of the dart at the armscye line up. Tape in place.

(I know this is a little weird because ideally, you'd line up the dart legs, but we shall not worry about it now and will address it later.)

Tape some paper under the armscye. Use a curved ruler to redraw the line smoothed out, averaging the jagged edges.


Trace the original bodice pattern again, but don't cut it out yet. Place your altered pattern piece on top and line up the side seams.

Trace around the armscye, shoulder and neckline. (For some reason my red sharpie was bleeding into the tracing paper like nobody's business. Please excuse.)

Use your ruler and draw a new center front line from the end of your new neckline to the original bottom center front.

Now, by this point we have decreased the ease across the bust - a little when we overlapped the dart legs, and a little just now when we redrew the center front line. I definitely did not want to do that, as it was quite fitted there already. So to add the ease back in, redraw the side seam. You can put the paper over the original pattern piece to see the width there to help you see about how much to add back in.

Almost there. Now we just have to deal with the bottom edge. Use a ruler to draw a pencil line that is square (90 degrees) to the new center front line.

Use a curved ruler to blend a new bottom line from the side seam to the squared line.

Now cut out your new pattern piece (make sure you follow the new lines!) and label it.

At this point to account for the neckline gape, I drew another new center front line that took some from the neckline edge and blended back to the original line down at the bottom. I didn't seem to get a picture, but it's pretty simple!

You can see pictures of the dress finished with updated armscyes here.

I hope this was clear enough and helped you out a little! A few things to note:

- If you make version 2 and 3, remember that you must also alter the sleeve piece to reflect the changes you made the the front bodice. I haven't done that yet so as of now no tutorial (I'll update this post if I do one.)

-If you change the neckline, you'll have to also change the collar piece to match.

Again I'd love to hear any other suggestions, ideas or ways to do it differently (or better!), so please, comment away!

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