Forward or Backward Shoulder Adjustment - The Willa Wrap Coat Sew Along

Friday, January 29, 2021

Performing a forward or backward shoulder adjustment on Willa may seem like it's going to be hard because of the grown-on collar, but it's actually as just straightforward as for any pattern in my opinion. The key is making sure you keep track of the neckline dots on the pattern - but first, let's figure out how much of an adjustment you need...

How much to adjust by...

Hello toile! Have I hammered in how important making a toile is? This is your key piece of kit when trying to figure out if you need this (or any!) adjustments. Pop it on and standing straight, have a look at the shoulder seam. It should be sitting straight out from your neck, along your shoulder line, to the top of the sleeve head. If it is sitting to either side of the top of your shoulder line (either towards the back or towards the front), you will want to perform a forward or backward shoulder adjustment. 

Along the end of the shoulder seam (around the top of the armscye) measure how much your seam is sitting off the top and use that measurement to see how much of an adjustment you'll need.

A Forward shoulder adjustment will be a more common adjustment to make as our 21st century lifestyle's have us hunched over computers/car steering wheels/phones etc more often than not, making our shoulders sit forward rather than straight. 

Note: this tutorial shows a Forward Shoulder Adjustment, for a Backward Shoulder Adjustment, do the opposite. 

You'll need:

  • Your front and back Willa Wrap Coat pieces (both the outer and lining pieces)
  • Ruler
  • Tape, scissors and spare paper


1. The first thing I recommend you do before doing any shoulder adjustments is to draw in your seam allowances. You don't need to do them around the whole pattern piece as they are here, just around the shoulder/back neckline is fine.

2. Depending on the adjustment you're doing, you'll either be moving your shoulder seam forward (for a Forward Adjustment) or backward (for a Backward Adjustment). 

Below, I'm showing you the newly drawn seams for a forward shoulder adjustment - starting at the inner marked shoulder notch and wedging out. You are removing the wedge from the front shoulder and adding it to the back. Do the opposite for a Backward Shoulder Adjustment.

3. Before you cut into your pattern to make your adjustments, I suggest removing the seam allowances along both the front and back shoulder seams and the back neckline on the front coat pattern piece as the shapes of these will change depending on how dramatic your adjustment is.

4. Remove the wedge from the front coat shoulder, and add it to the back shoulder.

5. Your back shoulder will now need to be trued up. Once this is done, you can add your seam allowances back in on both the front and back shoulders (and the front 'back' neckline).

6. Don't forget to do the same adjustment on your lining pieces! The back lining/facing is in pink below and the front lining/facing is in gold.

7. Tape your lining pattern pieces together, matching up shoulder seams and repeat the steps above.

7. The last thing to consider is whether you need to adjust your sleeve cap. If you've only made a small adjustment (approx 1cm at the shoulder line max) then you can probably leave the sleeve as is. If you've made a larger adjustment, I'd recommend moving the sleeve cap over so that it sits as comfortably into the armscye as possible, giving you maximum movement.

Cut a straight line along your sleeve cap (I do this above the notches).

8. Move the cap over by the same amount you adjusted your shoulder line by - move the cap to the left (as below) for a forward shoulder adjustment, or to the right for a backward shoulder adjustment.
9. True up your sleeve cap seams.

You can purchase your Willa Wrap Coat Pattern here.



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