Princess Seams Are Your Friend (Feb 2009)

Every woman should have a classic blazer in her wardrobe, and I have been anxious to offer a jacket that is easy to sew and easy to fit. Drawing on my 35 years of design and patternmaking experience, I created Butterick B5336, a classic princess-seamed, lined jacket that will give you a functional as well as innovative style to meet the many demands of our busy lifestyle. Depending upon your choice of fabric, it an be a casual week-end jacket, or a corporate career look, or dressed up with a glamorous fabric for evening. But, what is most important is that it will answer the many fitting needs of today’s women.

The uniqueness of the jacket design is that it has princess seams that run from the shoulder to the hem. Any pattern that has princess seams allows you to achieve a custom fit at the bust, waist and hip to create a a more flattering look that will allow your figure to look slimmer and more attractive, but because the seams go into the shoulder, you can also fit this area easily too.

Draping a pattern directly on your body is superior to relying exclusively on a flat pattern. The overall flow and silhouette shape of each design can be evaluated before you cut your fabric. Your goal is to have an attractive look that is comfortable to wear without any obvious pulls, wrinkles or twists. The center front, center back, and side seam should hang straight (perpendicular to the floor.) The sleeves should be comfortable when the arms are lifted and moved. The garment should conceal figure problems, flatter the face and body, and be pleasingly proportioned.

I have set out here to explain the fundamental concept of fitting a princess-seamed pattern by using the draping method. These simple steps can be applied to almost any princess-seamed pattern. First, measure the full bust to determine your correct pattern size. Remove the pattern pieces from the package, and select the main body pieces--Front, Side Front, Back, and Side Back. Press the pattern pieces to remove all wrinkles. (For added stability, press the pattern pieces to a press-on non-woven interfacing). Trim the pattern to the cutting lines, but do not remove the seam allowances. Clip the necklines and armhole curved seam allowances to the stitching line.

FITTING HINT: If draping on yourself, cut and sew the front and back out of a test muslin fabric. In this manner, this will be a full-body fit rather than half of the body.

1. Pin the Front, Side Front, Back, and Side Back pieces together at the vertical seams and shoulder seams. Slip the pattern or test muslin on the body.

2. Align center front and center back until the pattern, or test garment, hangs perfectly plumb (perpendicular to the floor, no twisting). Start fitting at the shoulder. It may be necessary to release the pins at the shoulder to get the pattern to hang properly. Make sure the jacket hangs level from the shoulder blade area (A).

3. Smooth and pin the pattern up toward the shoulder until the shoulder and necklines areas lie flat at the desired shoulder area.

4. Next, fit the bust area: For a smaller bust cup, remove any excess “cupping” from the side front panel. Conversely, if a larger bust cup is needed, add more fullness, between the notches, of the side front panel (B). You can also make adjustments across the back by increasing or decreasing the princess seam for a better fit. Be careful not to “over fit” and make the garment too tight. Leave room for movement or any garments (blouses, tops) that you will be wearing underneath.

5. Now, move down to the Waist area: Pin and shape the waist area below the bust to fit the contours of of your body. If more fullness is needed at the waistline, add to the princess seams. If you need more definition, take in the seams (C). Depending upon your shape, you may need to add at the front or back panels at the princess seams. Remember to keep the center front and center back lines perpendicular to the floor as you fit. Do not allow these seams to twist around the body.

6. Continue moving down to fit the Hip area. As with the Waist, add or decrease fullness to the side seam or princess seams to follow the curves of the body. (C) You may find it necessary to add fullness in the front or over the hip area at the princess seams. Or, just add or decrease fullness and the side seams. It will all depend on the shape of your body, which is unique.

7. Once the pattern alterations are complete, the corrected pattern should drape straight up and down (no “pitching”, or twisting); armholes should fit comfortably, and the neckline should lie flat against the body.

8. Using a soft pencil or a felt-tip pen, mark all pattern adjustments. Unpin the pattern. Remove the pattern from the body and draw the new seams with patternmaking rulers. The pattern is now ready to be cut out of fabric and sewn.

Happy Patternmaking!

The purpose of Fashion Patterns is to welcome anyone who wants to learn. If you've been itching to make yourself a custom blouse, jacket, dress, skirt or pants - but just don't know how - you're in the right place.

Fashion Patterns was started by Connie Amaden-Crawford, a licensed designer for the McCall Pattern Company under the Butterick label, member of the ASG Sewing Hall of Fame, and former instructor at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, California.

Connie started Fashion Patterns with the goal of offering classes to those interested in learning how to sew, design clothes, work with patterns, and express their creativity and style through fashion. When creating Fashion Patterns, Connie realized that she would not only be catering to young students at the brink of starting their careers, but also to busy adults who may want to explore their passion or interest. Connie, who is a business woman herself, understands the difficulty of finding time to pursue your passions outside of work. Her experience with balancing a busy schedule inspired her to offer classes on DVD and sell her educational textbooks online, many of which have been used in universities like FIDM. And there's much more online video content coming soon.

Connie's classes will teach you the technical skills needed to succeed in taking your dreams to reality. Getting the perfect fit has never been this easy. Through the use of her new master patterns, anyone can make their own unique designs and combinations with a completely customized fit. Really, no matter what your measurements or cup size, Connie's classes will teach you how make clothes that fit perfectly.

Fashion Patterns is built on Connie's solid foundation of professional experience as a patternmaker and designer. She continues to help those eager to learn and achieve their goals. It's never too late, or too early, to start learning and pursuing what makes you happy.

Please reach out to us soon and let the learning begin!

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