Princess Seams and Other Fitting Devices

Standard

A few months ago I wrote a post about possible sewing patterns for a bust larger than the standard B cup. I addressed adjustable patterns that include pattern pieces for cups A-D, princess seams from the armscye, princess seams from the shoulder, and empire style blouses. Since then, I have been busily sewing up a variety of patterns, for the sake of science of course. Today I will show some results.

For comparison sake, I offer the following information.

  • High bust: 33.5″
  • Full bust: 37.5″
  • Waist: 30
  • Hip:40
  • I chose to make size 12 with the D cup, adding width at the waist and hipline when necessary

Princess Seams

The classic princess seam from the armscye to the waist  makes a very fitted garment. It can be altered to fit quite precisely and therefore can work well with many bust sizes. For this experiment I used McCall’s pattern 6035, view A.

Princess Seams

Impressions:

  • This style looks great when it ends at the narrowest part of your body, the waist, say for the bodice of a dress. Princess seams make a nice, fitted top. However, for a looser fitting blouse, I’m not in love with this style. To show off the waist well, it must be fitted closely. However, I wanted the blouse looser in the hips, and the two ideas don’t mesh well. I would reserve this style for a dress in the future.
  • With the princess seam ending in the armscye, adjustments to the bust will also change the shape of the armscye.
  • Princess seams are fussy to sew. The larger the cup, the more curved the side piece will be, and the more difficult it is to sew together. Use a less stiff fabric, use a short stitch length, stay stitch and clip the front piece, and possibly run a gathering line on the curvy side piece to help you ease the two pattern pieces together.

  • Regarding the fit otherwise: This blouse is too long on me, and the blouse is still too wide across the upper chest (note drag lines). I might be better off making a 10 with a bigger cup size (which I’d have to draft myself). I placed the buttonhole while wearing a different bra than that in the photo, so I see a lot of gapping that was not there during the making. Clearly the other bra didn’t give me as much support, so the bust point was lower, causing me to place the buttonhole too low. Undergarments do matter!

Shoulder Princess Seams

This style blouse has a seam that runs vertically from the shoulder to the waist, similar to the classic princess seam. It also allows for a close, customized fit. I used Vogue pattern 5678, view C but without the pockets or sleeve tabs.

B5678

Impressions:

  • This style allows for easier adjusting for narrow shoulders. My problem tends to be that blouses are always too wide across the shoulders in front but too narrow around the bust. A seam right into the shoulder offers a great way to address that problem. Again, this blouse shows a lot of wrinkling around the shoulder, indicating that I still need to go smaller, a 10 “E” if they made it.

Too much fabric at the shoulder

  • While easier than the classic princess seam, it is still a little tricky sewing that princess seam accurately without practice. The fabric must be eased in carefully to avoid puckers. The larger the cup size, the more curved the seam, and the harder to sew.
  • Patch pockets right over the curvy seam of the bust seemed like it would a) draw more attention to the bust and b) be very difficult to sew on neatly. How are they going to lie flat over a curve?
  • Again, I didn’t want the bottom half of the blouse to be very fitted, but that conflicts with the nature of princess seams. The bodice can nip in very snug at the waist but then it has to widen out pretty quickly to skim over the belly. Not terrific looking.

Draglines everywhere. Oy.

Since this post is getting very long, I’ll save empire seams for another day. My overall impression is that princess seams of either variety are great for a bodice of a dress, but not so great for a curvy figure with a small waist. Also, the adjustable cup pattern still doesn’t offer a lot of variance from “average” since it only goes up to a D. (The instructions recommend a D cup for 4″ difference between high and full bust.) I may have to revisit my original post about good patterns for a full bust, and make some recommendations!

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6 responses »

  1. Fascinating info! I find it intriguing that our measurements are so similar and yet our shapes seem very different in pictures. How tall are you? (I think you told me but I can’t remember…)

    • It is interesting, isn’t it? I have thought that about several bloggers I follow. I am almost 5’6″. It is further proof that measurements don’t really mean much. This weekend I took measurements for 3 friends, and the one with the largest bosom had only a 2″ difference between her high bust and full bust, whereas I have a 4″ difference. WTH? I can only assume it’s because my high bust doesn’t include much breast tissue, and is mostly my ribcage. Still, that would mean in sewing patterns she should be making a pattern straight based on a B cup. HA HA HA. This gal is probably a 36K. I have by far the smallest chest, but need to make a D cup according to pattern directions. The woman next in line after me had a 3″ difference, putting her in a C pattern. The thought is truly laughable. Again, friends, measurements don’t mean that much. Try it on, try it on, try it on.

      • Bizarre. I am 5’3″. To my eye, you seem much less, um, busty to me than I am. Of course, maybe the photos skew things too?

  2. I live by princess seaming, too. It the best device I’ve found for shaping over the figure to its best advantage. I adore the yellowish-green in the first blouse… very nice!

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