My First Princess Seams~

September 8, 2020 1 Comments

I’m doing me a princess seams. It’s high time I learn this, turned out to be not so difficult, actually. Pretty straightforward, barely an inconvenience. I’m using Butterick Style 2795. I think that pattern is out of print. 


Butterick Style 2795~OOP?
Butterick Style 2795~OOP?

I traced all the pattern pieces and transferred the markings. Unfortunately, I traced the wrong size. Again. I always do that. I go by my measurements like everyone says to do, and the pattern always end up just swallowing me whole. When I reconcile the traced out pattern to my sloper, the size always goes down at least one size, sometimes two. Sadly, this is just how I’ve evolved to do this. I end up losing some design details this way, tho. This time, I went one better and traced the wrong size two sizes up!! So…what?…now I’m 4 sizes off??? It’s been a very long time since I worked off a pattern and just wasn’t paying attention. The sizing has all been worked out via my sloper block already, I thought about it long and hard last night and decided I was not going to go back in and trace out the right size. That’s for next time. If I lose a few design details in this dress, well so be it, better luck next time.

So onto the good stuff, AKA “How I Did What I Did”, starting with the back.

Center Back & Side Back

I decided to use the waistline as my anchor point. My understanding in nailing down a good fitting is that you start at the shoulders, move to the neckline, then armsceyes, the waist and lastly, the hemline. You get the “length” right first, then start on the circumference. But maybe that is more for fitting a muslin, not working the pattern pieces on the flat. For my purposes here, the waistline was the common marking I could easily match up between all 4 pattern pieces and my block. The double lines are the Shorten/Lengthen Here marks, the waistline marking above is the 1.5” line adjacent to the Cut On Fold marking. I took a ruler and extended that line all the way across both pattern pieces.

Extending Waistline Mark

With the Center Back and Side Back pattern pieces lined up, I layed my clear plastic sloper tracing over them. This was my first inkling that something somewhere wasn’t quite right. I’m used to the pattern tracing being larger than my sloper, just not that much. There’s 3”+ of difference between the side seams. However, at first glance, I could see the shoulder and back darts were where the back princess seam line needed to be.

Sloper over the back pattern pieces

I traced out half the back sloper, using the back darts as guidelines~

Center Back Princess Seam pattern piece

Overlaying sloper piece to pattern piece for differences there’s about 1” difference, but 1/2” of that is seam allowance. The other 1/2” is ease so it’s all good at this point.

Drilling down pattern piece to sloper

Zooming out. I will blend the lines from the hip down.

Larger view
Blending side seams from the hip

Here’s what kept me up last night. Now that I know I traced the pattern 2 sizes up from what I need, I’m wondering how much extra fabric will be there. It’s not a huge problem. It’s actually not a problem at all, if when I have to take any out it’s no big deal as it’s all in the side seam and can & will go away with a flick of the rotary cutter. It just got me to thinking about using a pattern from the Big 3 and determining my correct size once and for all. I read about that all the time, and the standard thinking is “In determining size, use bust measurements, fix everything else in the fitting process.” But the accomplished sewists I follow are great about understanding their body measurements from top to bottom and can work a new pattern instantly by knowing they are one size at the bust another at the waist and yet maybe a third from the hip. They can trace out a pattern from the jump by blending the lines from one size to another and not think a thing of it. That’s where I’d like to be. I stopped using patterns because by the time I got the tracing down to matching my sloper, it was a completely different garment from the original pattern as I would lose design details.

So now I’ve got the basics anchored off the waistline, it’s time to start at the shoulder line and work my way down. From the above pics, I can see the shoulder line is waaaay off…what is that?….4.5” or so?? I didn’t measure, but it’s a lot! From here, I’m jumping to the front bodice as I didn’t take pics of the adjustments on the back. I was working out how & what to do on the back, I had it down when I went to the front so was able to get pics.

Getting the shoulders in line

The How: I slashed the pattern at the Shorten/Lengthen line, slid the upper recently freed pattern piece under the lower portion until the shoulder line matched with the sloper.

Shoulders match…but one problem

The problem here? And this is why you take pictures and write about this stuff…I’ve matched the sloper shoulder line (no seam allowance) to the pattern piece (5/8” seam allowance). I did go back in and add seam allowance to the sloper, I just should have done that one step prior. Add seam allowance then match up the shoulder lines.

Adding seam allowance

At this point, tho, I just don’t know how big a mistake this is. It’s already taken from 2 sizes up from me!!! And then it’s sized back down as per my sloper…?!?! What have I done?? Live and learn and this is how one learns. There’s no help for it. You learn more from making mistakes than you do by accidentally getting it right. I had to add the notches back in, the original was cut away in the Great Shoulder Seam Reconciliation 2020. For all the good it’s going to do. I’ve futzed the size around so much that nothing is going to line up and all my facings and the collar itself have to be redrafted to match the new neckline. I’m going to just name this pattern “Better Luck Next Time”. We’re here, we’ve done what we’ve done and that’s that.

New shoulder area

After “reconciling” (yes, gonna have to ask you use the scare quotes on that), the shoulders, armsceyes, necklines to waist, I laid all 4 pieces out lining the waistline markings on the grid to check the length agreed across the board. Yes they did, but…but…but…the front side is a 2-piece process because it connects via a pocket. And that lower front side piece is…ahem…larger than the upper front side piece. What the…??? Maybe there are gathers? Please? Please let there be gathers!!

Checking waist to hemline

Narrator: there were no gathers.

No gathers whatsoever

When I started on the front bodice, it finally hit me that I had traced the wrong size to begin with and that’s why I’m having to make so many adjustments. I can’t remember exactly but it had something to do with matching the front side waistline and the bust apex that it was clear something had gone terribly wrong. The absolute easiest solution was just to trace the side front pattern again this time using the correct size. I knew that lower piece would give me fits, I just didn’t know it was that far off. And once more, the fastest, easiest solution was to retrace the correct size instead of trying to make the bigger one work. It’s corrected, all matches, some ease to be able to get your hand in. Not to mention keys, a hankie, loose change and whatnot.

Size corrected

To recap so far…here’s what I have: I have 3 pieces that were traced from the wrong size. The Center Front…Center/Side Back…that have been sized back down as per the sloper. Then the 2 Front Side pieces that were re-traced from the right size and adjusted per the sloper. If this works…I’m buying a lottery ticket. But now the really fun part (not being sarcastic, I like this stuff!!) I need to check to see the Princess Seam, necklines and armsceyes agree front to back.

Front to back at shoulders

The Princess Seam lines are a go!! I repeat! Princess Seam Lines are a Go!! *fireworks* The neckline is good, but the armsceye is off. Easy fix. I taped a piece of paper onto it and just redrew it.

Redraw McGraw
Tidied up version

Rechecking my work. This all works! On paper.

Final check

Yes, on paper all looks good. Time to cut some muslin and stitch it up to tweak it here and there and work out the facings and sleeves. I may get to that this afternoon or not. Because….

The pups smell so bad they’re making my eyes water. They are in want of a good warm scrubbing and brushing out. Their nails need trimming, their sanitary areas need a shave. After that, I have to clean the bathroom. Ollie leaves hair everywhere. Since I’m doing the bath, I’ll do the master bedroom as well. There’s my afternoon completely blocked off.

Outside The Sewing Room/Family News:

My brother is starting a new business. Because he’s bored. He retired a year or so ago. The first thing he learned was that retirement does not suit him at all. He’s made a job offer to my son in this new business venture. Raymond is interested in building wealth and has the skill set to get that done. He has a goal of retiring well. I have no idea if Raymond will accept his Uncle’s job offer. It means moving to Arkansas. R.D. & I have already discussed it, if Raymond moves to Arkansas, we’re going too. We’ll put the house on the market and go with him. If he turns the job offer down (he’s doing spectacular at his job now), we’ll just stay put. We love this house and have sunk a lot of time, blood, sweat, tears and cash money into it. We’re very happy here in Idaho. But it would be fun to be around family. R.D & my brother are BFFs, they get along great and have deep respect for one another. My niece is hoping we move back there. I’m pretty ambivalent about it. I’m happy here for reasons. I would be just as happy there for other reasons. If we do move back, I’ve already decided we’re buying property out in the country big enough for a house for us and one for Raymond.

Alright, alright, alright. I’m off to get the day going. Pupper butt washing, clean the bathroom, clean the master bedroom, and yet once again, R.D. is pointing out his favorite shirts all have the elbows blown out of them. Since I won’t have the time to start the Butterick 2795 muslin, I’ll sit and patch the elbows up for him today.


Jyps 🦋

Jypsea Rose