Armscye & Armhole Measurement in Sewing {An Overview}

An Armscye (also known as arm scythe) is the armhole opening of the bodice, where the sleeve is joined. If it sounds to you like ‘arm’s eye’ it is no coincidence. That is the original term from which the term armscye evolved. 

armhole measurement

How to measure the armscye for drafting  patterns

In sewing, there are 5 ways of marking the armscye for  bodice pattern

1. One method is to measure from the shoulder and neck joint to the armpit. This measurement is used to draft the armhole depth on the pattern. In the drawing given below the measurement A-B taken on the body and then is marked from the shoulder- neck joining point. 


2. The other method is to measure the perimeter of your armhole. Start measuring with a tape measure from the shoulder tip point. Then go around the arm joint and back again to the same point. Half of that will be your armhole measurement


3 Another method is to measure the body on the back from the nape point to the chest line just under the arm. From this measure, the slope of the shoulder should be reduced.


4 The next method is to take the bust round in inches. Divide this by 4  and minus 1.5 inches from this measurement ( depending on the ease you want)

So if my bust round is 36 inches When I divide this by 4 I get 9 ; Subtracting 1.5 inches gives you the armscye measure 7.5 inches.

5 You can also go by a fixed armhole measurement based on your bust measurement /chest measurement. You can refer to the charts given below for these measurements. But these may not be the most accurate as these are obviously not your body measurement. 

Armscye measurement for women’s bodice

Bust measurement inchesArmhole depth

327 1/4
347 1/2
367 1/2
387 1/2
407 1/2
427 1/2

A more fitting armhole

Bust roundArmhole measurement
28 inch 4 3/4"
30 inch5
32 inch5 1/4"
34 inch5 1/2"
36 inch5 3/4"
38 inch6"
40 inch6 1/4"
42 inch6 1/2"
44-46 inch7"
48-50 inch7 1/2"

Armscye measurement for men’s bodices

Height/Chest size34"36"38"40"42"44"46
5 Ft 4 inches8 1/4"8 1/2"8 3/4"9"9 1/4"9 1/2"9 3/4"
5 Ft 6 inches8 1/2"8 3/4"9"9 1/4"9 1/2"9 3/4"10
5 Ft 8 inches8 3/4"9"9 1/4"9 1/2"9 3/4"10"10 1/4"
5 Ft 10 inches99 1/4"9 1/2"9 3/4"10"10 1/4"10 1/2"
6 Ft9 1/4"9 1/2"9 3/4"10"10 1/4"10 1/2"10 3/4"

How to draft the armscye

Once you have marked the armhole height you can draft the armsyce in two ways. One is to give a little deeper curve to the front armscye than for the armscye of the back bodice. The other way is to use the same curve for the front and back bodices.

Mark down straight from the shoulder tip to the armhole depth line
Mark the meeting point as J. Measure the distance from F-J
Take half of that
Mark this measure (ie 1/2 of F-J) diagonally from J . Mark this as K

Draw a curve touching the points I K & F. This is your back bodice armhole curve.

Move 3/4 inches inside from point J to M. Mark diagonally 3/4 inches to N from M. Draw the front armhole line touching F N & I

How to use French curve scale to give shape to the armscye

armscye measurement

Keep the french curve on the spots you have marked so that the curved portion gives you the shape you need for the armscye.

Related posts : Free Sewing patterns ; Sewing tips and techniques ; Fashion vocabulary ; Fabric glossary


Comments 20

  1. Thanks so much for this tutorial, it’s so helpful for a beginner like me. But please is there anyway I can save or download your posts so I can be able to go back to it without using data? Thanks.

  2. Does the shoulder slant affects the chest measurement? Eg my chest is 7.5 inches, when I slant my shoulder by 1 inches I’m left with 6.5 inches. Won’t d armhole too small for me

  3. If ur bust round is 44inch ,divide by 8 that is 5.5 den wen u add 3.5 inches to it that will give u 9 inches. But ma may i ask how is my bust related to my armhole?

  4. Hello!
    I’m trying to fit a sleeve cap to an armsyce for a tshirt. Both the cap and the armsyce are the same length and yet they don’t fit/meet at the side seam! For some reason the sleeve cap is too short when I pin it on even though its the same lenth as the armscye! Please help! haha, is there any readings on this? I’m finding it difficult to find material. Cheers!

    1. Because the curves are convex and concave they meet at different points. The underarm seam allowance needs to be increased by the amount you need to mame it fit. The other option is to split the sleeve pattern in the middle verticallt by the amont you are short and recut the sleeves.

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  5. I need to bring the shoulder seam forward but somehow I am lengthening the back armscye more than the 1/2″ that I have moved the shoulder seam forward. I can’t figure this one out!
    Thank you for any help on this problem.

  6. How is the armscye depth related to large bust measurements? Does the depth vary proportionately with larger bust measurements?

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      Hi Deborah
      We move our arms to the front so if there is excess there will be an unnecessary crease there – this is especially so important for close fitting garments. For loose fitting ones, you can use the same curve for back and front

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