Give it to me skinny
February 22, 2012 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Is my tailor giving me the true skinny? Can the arms of an expensive sports jacket really be removed in order to cut the shoulder length?

Friend gave me a nice, jacket. So, before I begin, my total cost thus far is $0.00.

The jacket is a too wide for me in the shoulders (I'd say about an inch). My tailor, who I found via a fellow Mefite, told me she is able to remove the arms, cut the shoulders, reattach the arms and then tailor the rest of the jacket.

I was always under the impression that it is not worth messing with the shoulders of a jacket. Maybe I am wrong. What do you think?
posted by yoyoceramic to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds logical to me...
posted by patheral at 4:11 PM on February 22, 2012

Just had this done to my old suit. It's a major alteration but not abnormal from what I understand.
posted by Big_B at 4:14 PM on February 22, 2012

Your tailor is correct, that is exactly how you do that. I just had this done on a very expensive coat. It is very sad to see a jacket or coat without its arms, but in the hands of a competent tailor, it all comes back together perfectly.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:14 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

A really good tailor can do it if the jacket is reasonably accommodating, but it's probably going to take them a fair bit of time/cost a lot more than the normal approach of shortening the sleeves from the ends. I'd imagine there's a substantially greater risk of the end result just not hanging quite right.

I wouldn't buy a sports jacket off the rack that required this kind of alteration, but since you got the lovely jacket for free, it might be worth the investment to give it a try as long as you won't be too upset if the whole thing just doesn't work out. I'd make sure to work with a top-notch tailor.
posted by zachlipton at 4:28 PM on February 22, 2012

I thought they took it in at the middle seam, but I've had this done a few times. They do it somehow.
posted by cmoj at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2012

shortening the sleeves from the ends

The OP isn't shortening the shoulders though, he's bringing in the shoulders, ie the jacket is too wide for him. (FWIW I would never take a jacket in at the middle seam; it will just never hang right. You have to take the shoulders in by taking the arms off. If the tailor feels competent to do this, and you're getting a good return on the original cost of the jacket, I would go for it.)
posted by DarlingBri at 4:50 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is not only do-able, your tailor's suggestion is the right way to do it. I wouldn't hesitate, especially since your present sunk cost in the jacket is zero -- and it doesn't fit. Yet. Give the tailor a try.
posted by vers at 4:56 PM on February 22, 2012

Best answer: I've made many a suit jacket. For a skilled tailor this task is reasonable.

The sleeve will be removed and then the shoulder trimmed back. The interesting part is how to deal with the armhole which no longer mates up the same: the head of the sleeve actually has a wee bit of gathered material to create the perfect fall. In some fabrics you have extra "forgiveness" that allows you to ease it back into place if the new armhole isn't too large. In other instances the underarm portion of the sleeve can be recut to match the jacket. Or a combination of these or other (more knowledgeable than my abilities) techniques will be used.
posted by mightshould at 5:05 PM on February 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

When they bring in the shoulders they will need to create new shoulder pads and possibly do a fair amount of interior reconstruction with the back stay, any interfacing that runs through the front, yada yada. A truly skilled tailor can, indeed, do this.

How well it comes out will also depend a lot on how much you take out. If we're talking a half inch off the end of the top-of-the-shoulder seam, sure, it should be OK. 2 inches is going to mess with the way the jacket hangs.

If you're curious about these things, Burda Style has a nice overview of tailoring a women's suit jacket.
posted by lyra4 at 5:07 PM on February 22, 2012

Taking in the shoulders is A Thing tailors do. Whether it results in looking like a million dollars with perfectly fitted shoulders or looking like the shoulders were put together by a demented owl is entirely up to the skill of the tailor.

It makes much better sense to cut in from the armhole than from the back seam of the jacket if the difference is significant, especially where the jacket fits reasonably well through the waist but is too broad in the shoulders.

Good luck!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:26 PM on February 22, 2012

My mom has had this very thing done on a suit jacket. Came back looking great, inside and out.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:21 PM on February 22, 2012

I have a suit jacket with several horizontal seams and embroidery going from cuff to elbow; the seamstress shortened it the same way your tailor suggested. Apparently simpler and remember at the cuff things have to look nice in and out while at the shoulder only the outside has to be perfect.
posted by variella at 7:37 PM on February 22, 2012

As I always say in threads threads, this is exactly what tailors are for, and good ones have all kinds of hacks to alter not just fit, but even the style of well-made clothes (at a certain price point, tailoring won't add value).
posted by thinkpiece at 4:10 AM on February 23, 2012

In case you need further confirmation – nthing that yes, this is something tailors do, and sounds like the best solution for this particular fit problem.

Seams aren't too difficult to remove, even on lined items. A seam ripper is used for that. (Don't worry, nothing is actually "ripped", the tool is only used to pull and cut thread.)
posted by fraula at 5:38 AM on February 23, 2012

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