Where Should Shoulder Seam Fall?

The shoulder seam is an important detail that can have a big effect on the right fitting and look of your dress. So its placement is also very important. 

So, where should shoulder seam fall?

The shoulder seam should fall at the acromion or at the edge of the shoulder In the shirt, dress shirt, and formal ladies’ t-shirt. In plain and French shoulder style, this position is followed. In a drop shoulder t-shirt, the seam is on the arm level, and in Raglan and Set-in shoulder style, the seam should be on the arm curve. Dolman shoulder style doesn’t require any seam on the shoulder. 

Read this article to know more about the shoulder seam and its position in detail. 

Where Should The Shoulder Seam Fall?

The shoulder seam of a regular shirt should ideally fall right at the edge of your shoulder. The location where your arm meets your shoulder is known as the acromion. The shoulder seam should sit right on top of it.

where should shoulder seam fall t-shirt
Source: Pattern Review

Raise your arm slightly, and you will notice the joint where your shoulder meets your arm. That’s the point where the shoulder seam should seat. This is the seam position your formal shirt, suit, dress shirt, and jacket have. 

However, there are different types of shoulder styles where the seam can be in different positions. 

What Are The Different Types Of Shoulder Seams?


This is the most basic type of shoulder seam. It is a simple straight seam that connects the front and back panels of a garment at the shoulder. In this type of shoulder, the vertical shoulder seam should be on the edge of the shoulder. 


This type of shoulder seam involves sewing the front and back panels of a garment together with the raw edges tucked inside the seam. This creates a clean, polished look on the outside of the garment. The shoulder seam falls on the edge of the shoulder in this as well. 


In this type of shoulder, the shoulder seam should be near the armholes. This is a classic type of shoulder seam that involves sewing the sleeve to the body of the cloth at the shoulder.

shoulder seam
Source: Own Crafting

Drop Shoulder:

In a drop shoulder, the seam extends beyond the shoulder point and stays on the arm area. This creates a relaxed, oversized fit that can be seen in sweatshirts and casual t-shirts.

drop shoulder
Source: Walmart

Modified Drop Shoulder:

This is a shoulder style created by Modifying a drop shoulder top by snipping the underarms of the bodice to create a slightly different look. Here, the shoulder seam should also fall beyond the shoulder edge. 

By snipping one to two inches from each underarm, the bodice becomes slightly narrower, which can help to create a more fitted look around the waist and hips.


In this shoulder style, the shoulder seam is sewn diagonally from the collarbone to the underarm. This distinctive diagonal seam line can be seen mostly in sportswear and casual fits.


This is a type of sleeve that is very wide and loose and extends to the waist. The sleeve and body of the garment are cut as one piece, with a seam running from the wrist to the waist. So, in this type of shoulder style, you won’t find any shoulder seams. 

How To Measure Shoulder Seam?

To place the shoulder seam in the perfect position, you have to do the right measurement. Here’s the process of the measurement of the plain shoulder seam. Here’s how you can measure a person’s shoulder seam.

Step 1: Adjust The Posture

The person you are taking measurements of should stand straight for an accurate measurement. They should place their shoulders relaxed and arms at their sides. If the person being measured is slouching or hunching their shoulders, the shoulder seam measurement may be incorrect.

Step 2: Locate The Acromion

Run your finger through the edge of the shoulder of the person you are taking measurements of. You should be able to feel the bony protrusion or a bump at the edge of the shoulder. Do it for both shoulders. Make a mental note of their location, as this is where the shoulder seam should end.

Step 3: Take Measurement 

Take the measuring tape and Stretch it horizontally across the back of the body. The measuring tape should touch one acromion to another one equally. The measuring tape should be held firmly, leveled, and straight. Read the measurement from the tape.  

Step 3: Take Note

Take note of the measurement so that you don’t get confused later. record the number in inches or centimeters, whichever you are comfortable with. This is how you take the shoulder seam measurement perfectly. 

Also, be attentive while stitching the shoulder seam. As it can be shown, clumsy stickers will look bad. Make sure to change the sewing machine needle regularly for precise sewing. 

How To Alter Too-Wide Or Too-Narrow Shoulders?

If you have already cut out the pattern too broad or too narrow, you must be worried that the pattern is ruined. But don’t worry. If you fix complicated problems like stopping glitter from coming out from tulle, you can fix this problem as well. 

Here are the methods of altering the shoulders. 

Step 1: Take the pattern piece and a marker. You have to draw two lines on the pattern. The first line should start from the center of the shoulder and it will be angled down all the way through the armscye. 

Draw the second line which will be perpendicular to the previous line. It will start from the top corner of the armscye and stop at the first line.

draw two lines on the pattern
Source: Helen’s Closets Patterns

Step 2: Cut the first line starting from the shoulder. Don’t cut off the paper piece entirely, leave a little bit of paper on the armscye. Now cut the second line starting from the first line side. Leave some of the paper at the corner of the armscye but don’t cut it all off. 

Step 3: Now, if you are altering for a shoulder pattern that is too wide follow this step. Swing out the outer triangle parts of the paper a little and push down the upper triangle to make a pleat. So, that the upper triangle overlaps the lower one. 

Cut off the excess paper from the shoulder line from above and from the arm curve to match the triangle’s line. Then, measure the pattern with the shoulder measurement again and make sure it matches.

Cut off the excess paper
Source: Helen’s Closets Patterns

Step 4: If you are altering from a shoulder pattern that was previously too narrow, follow this step. Spread the triangles a bit so that the shoulder surface seems wider. Tape a piece of paper within the gap between two triangles and cut off the excess paper from the top of the upper triangle. Also, cut and align the arm curve as well.

upper triangle
Source: Helen’s Closets Patterns

Step 5: Finally, use tape to secure everything back. Make sure to do the process for both front and back patterns. Now you can cut the clothing according to this pattern. 

Also, make sure to measure the armscye and armhole properly for the best result. 

How Do You Tell If The Shoulder Seam Is Off Place?

If you don’t place the shoulder seam correctly, you will face many problems with the clothing. The problem can be visible, or it could cause discomfort to wear. Here are some ways to tell if the shoulder seam is off place. 

  • If the shoulder seam falls too far towards the neck, or the shoulder is narrow, the clothing will look and feel too tight. It will restrict movement in the arms and shoulders and the sleeve will keep sneaking up on the shoulder. And, you will feel the sleeves are pulling upwards which is really an uncomfortable feeling. 
  • If the shoulder seam is too wide, the cloth will look saggy. It will feel as if you have worn clothes in a bigger size than what fits you. This is similarly embarrassing as the skirt sticking out at the back
  • If you wear a tucked-up shirt and raise your hand the shirt will ride up if your shoulder seam is too much closer to the neck. That’s not a great sight. 

For these reasons, placing the shoulder seam in the perfect position is essential. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How Should A Long-Sleeve Shirt Fit?

A long sleeve shirt should fit comfortably around the neck and the shoulder seam should fall at the edge of the shoulder. The sleeves should be long enough to cover the wrists. And the shirt length should be halfway around your fly. The body of the shirt should fit comfortably without excess fabric bunching up around the waist.

How Do You Measure Sleeve Length For A Shirt?

To measure sleeve length for a shirt, measure from the shoulder seam line down the arm to the wrist bone. This will give you the full sleeve length. For a more precise measurement, bend the arm slightly and measure from the center of the back of the neck to the wrist bone.

Is It Better To Have A Slightly Tighter Or Looser Shoulder Seam?

It is better to have a slightly looser shoulder seam, as this will allow for more freedom of movement and prevent the shirt from feeling uncomfortable. However, the fit should still be close enough that the shoulder seam is not slipping off the shoulder or hanging too far down the arm.


Now you know where should shoulder seam fall. It’s really important to maintain these small details while making a dress. 

So, measure these small details properly. Otherwise, even an inch of difference can make your dress feel and look very uncomfortable. 

I am ending my discussion for now. Hope you have a great day!

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