Sewing Glossary

What is an Armscye in Sewing? What is it Used For?

September 15, 2023 by

As a young girl, Sarah always had a fascination for her mother’s sewing machine.

One day, while watching her mother create a beautiful dress, she overheard her mention something about an “armscye.”

Curious, Sarah asked her mother what it was and what it was used for.

This is what we told Sarah.

Table of Contents

What is an Armscye?

An Armscye typically refers to the outline of the armhole in the field of tailoring to construct specific patterns specifically.

The term “Armscye” (alternatively spelled “arm scythe” and pronounced as ‘Arm’s Eye’) has its origins in Scotland.

It’s basically the armhole opening in apparel through which the hand, and then the arm passes easily, and then lastly a sleeve can be joined to it.

An armscye length is determined by the total length of armhole measurement to the edge where the sleeve is joined.

The width is measured by taking account of the distance across the hole at the widest point.

An Armscye is mainly at the opening of the bodice, at the place where the sleeve is attached. The correct adjustment of an armscye is crucial to do pattern shape.

As the right cutting of an armscye leads to improved comfort and better movement. In case, if you are shorter or taller than normal then the need is to adjust your armscye.

When you feel the shirt is too tight or too loose like having creases on the material near your armpit, then it’s a sign that may require adjusting your armscye.

For example- the accurate cutting of an armscye is a key element to any jacket or coat.

Hence careful attention is given to the size and height of the armscye.

To see it further explained, we recommend this video by BooLeHeart:

What is an Armscye Used For?

An armscye is used for attaching or sewing the sleeve at the armhole of the garment so that the arm and hand pass at ease.

Armcye coat

Why is it Called an Armscye?

Armscye can be also pronounced ‘Arm’s Eye’ is originally a Scottish term. Earlier the expression “arm’s eye” was used in older sewing texts.

It’s also predicted in earlier records that the apostrophe and the crossbar of the lower case “e” were unclear.

The neologism “armscye” was generated by readers, who omitted the sound of orphaned fragments “arm” and “s” with the corrupt “cye”.

In the 20th century, writers found the original term more logical.

However, as self-proclaimed experts copied each other, the term “armscye” eventually prevailed and was commonly used by local tailors to gain general acceptance.

How is Armscye Measured?

The Armscye measurement is taken from the tip of the shoulder, then around the edge of the bust, under the arm, and back up to the shoulder.

To see further see how it’s measured, we recommend this video by PatternLab London:

What is the Armscye Depth?

Armscye depth is basically determined by measuring from the bone at the back of your neck straight down your back to a point level with the bottom of your armhole.

In the practical method, the armscye depth is measured by the position of the waist.

The length of the jacket is measured from the center back neckline and are chalk marked according to the measurements.

The back width is measured and, if necessary, adjusted accordingly to the one’s body’s measurements.

Armscye vs Armhole

Here is a comparison table showing the difference between an armscye and an armhole:

The curved opening or edge where the sleeve is attached to the garment’s body.The opening or hole in the garment where the wearer’s arm goes through.
Located in the main body of the garment, typically on the side or upper chest area.Located in both the main body of the garment and the sleeve.
Typically curved and shaped to accommodate the natural contours of the arm and shoulder.Generally round or oval, with a consistent shape to allow easy arm movement.
Allows for the attachment of the sleeve to the garment while providing ease of movement.Provides a passage for the wearer’s arm to enter the garment comfortably.
The armscye is often adjusted for fit and style, with variations like high armholes for tailored looks or low armholes for relaxed styles.The armhole should be designed to match the shape and size of the armscye for a seamless fit. It may also include finishes like facings or bias bindings.
Critical for the fit of the sleeve and the overall comfort of the garment.Crucial for ease of wearing the garment and preventing constriction of arm movement.
Found in garments with sleeves, such as shirts, dresses, jackets, and coats.Present in most garments with sleeves but can also be found in sleeveless designs to accommodate the arms.

The correct placement of the armscye is one the most important part of the pattern construction of any garment.

An armscye is essential for comfortability and ease movement of arms such as extending the arms or pulling them downwards.

A perfect armscye provides the appearance of good body posture improves bad posture.

Where is the armhole of a garment?

The armhole of a garment is located where the sleeve is attached to the body of the garment, forming a curved opening for the arm to go through. It is also known as the armscye.

How do I get my armhole?

To get the armhole of a garment, you need to measure from the top of the shoulder, down the side of the torso, and then up the underarm to the top of the shoulder again. This measurement will give you the circumference of the armhole.