Tag Archives: princess seam

Black Dress with Princess seams

Hi and welcome to this week’s blog.

Do you wear a lot of black clothes?

I know I do. It seems to be my default colour. If I can’t decide what to wear, I reach for the black dress!

So what do all the black clothes in the closet signify?

Some would say black is stylish, others would say unimaginative. Some people wear black because it is rebellious while others wear it to conform. It is the colour of mourning but also sexy and seductive. There are so many contradictions and ways to interpret our feelings and attitudes towards our black clothes but it is probably the one colour everybody has and uses often.

So I thought to myself that it was time to add another one to the collection.

If you managed to read the blog I posted a few days ago, “How To Sew A Princess Seam” you would have seen me piecing and sewing together beautiful princess seams on a black bodice.

Princess seam bust front

I continued with making the dress and the result is this blog for you.

This is the picture I have used as my inspiration. It is a gorgeous black winter dress by the fabulous Yves Saint Laurent. HERE

This style of dress never seems to go out of fashion, the hem line and the sleeve length may go up and down depending on the season, otherwise its a classic look which from the sewist’s perspective gives us scope to make so many variations from just one basic pattern.

Princess seams on a dress can be made to continue down the whole length of the dress or they can stop at the hips or at the waist. On this dress I decided that the skirt was going to be a full circle skirt so the curved princess seams would only extended down as far as the waistline. They are on both the back and the front of the bodice which gives a perfect figure hugging shape.

Working with the black fabric at this time of year was a bit of a challenge and demanded plenty of good quality artificial light. I recently invested in a daylight light bulb which actually gives off a blue light rather than the yellow light from a regular bulb. Still a poor substitute for real sunlight though.

I knew that I was happy with the fit of the bodice, except for the neckline which was a little bit high so I lowered it by three inches, before starting on the skirt. I took the waist measurement for the skirt from the bodice and used this to make a pattern. My fabric was not a large enough piece to allow me to cut the circle skirt in one which I would have prefered, so I had to make separate front and back sections, remembering to allow for a zipper. Having the side seams did have the advantage of allowing me to alter the fit easily when necessary.

As the skirt does have the side seams I played around with the idea of pockets in the seams but the fabric is really quite heavy and to add more fabric and more weight would be too much in this design. I’ll put some in-seam pockets into another project soon though.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining Top of Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining Top of Dress

The finished dress is fully lined, except for the sleeves. I am sure that there was more work in the construction of the dress lining than there was in the actual dress itself. I used a lovely black and white, antistatic, spotty lining fabric. I didn’t want the lining to show at the neck edge so I cut a facing from the black dress fabric and attached this to the neck edges of the back and front lining pieces, this was then under stitched.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

Under stitching is done on the lining or the facing, inside the neck edge or sometimes at the arm hole edge. It is usually done with a slightly longer stitch length and by adding this extra row of stitching, about a quarter of an inch from the seam line, it keeps the seam edge in place and stops the fabric rolling out.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining

When I made the lining for the skirt of the dress, I made it as a straight skirt, not a full circle because I wanted it to stay in place when the dress moves about. Maybe when I’m dancing around! I also attached the skirt lining to the bodice the opposite way around at the waist so that the side seams would not be visible, they face inwards, against the legs. I was pleased with this little trick and will certainly remember to do it again on other dress and skirt linings. The other decision with this skirt lining was to leave it unattached to the dress. Linings are sometimes attached with a swing stitch or the hems can be joined together but in this instance that would not be a suitable option. As I said, I wanted the lining to stay in place when the dress moved about.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

I have put in a concealed zip down the back of the dress. Don’t be put off using this type of zip as it is almost invisible on the garment and looks very neat and professional. You do however need the correct foot attachment for your sewing machine. You also need to make sure you are taking the correct amount of seam allowance when stitching it in place. there is a tendency when sewing in any type of zip to line up the edge of the zip with the edge of the fabric and this may well not be your seam allowance so measure it , check and make sure. You don’t want it baggy at the back!

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Finished Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Finished Dress

I’m happy to make this dress another addition to my working wardrobe and possibly my socialising one as well.

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Happy sewing

How to sew a princess seam

Princess seams are shaped seams which are designed to fit the contours of the body. They can be on either or both, the back or the front of the body. The seam can begin either at the shoulder or at the arm hole and can either stop at the waist or continue down the body shaping the full length of the garment over the waist and hips. So this How to Sew a Princess Seam should help you.

The typical princess seam will curve outwards over the fullest part of the bust or back and then curve inward to shape the waist and if the seam extends down towards the hips then the seam will curve outwards again to accommodate the body’s contours.

Before beginning your project it is important to check the pattern size. Some commercial dress patterns come in sizes which allow for different cup fittings, A, B, C, D etc. This can be very useful, however it is always worth making a toile or muslin first. This is a trial garment or part of a garment to check for sizing. If the fabric you have chosen for your dressmaking project is expensive then making a toile from a cheap calico or plain cotton could save you a lot of money. When you get the princess seams to follow the shape of your body precisely you can create a very elegant shape.

Princess Seam – Step1

It is a good idea to put a row of stay stitching for reinforcement inside the seam lines on the centre bodice piece. Some fabrics have a tendency to stretch a bit when handled and this will help prevent movement of the fibres.

Princess seam fabric pieces

Princess Seam – Step 2

With the side panel on top of the centre panel with the right sides together pin along the seamline, match any notching you have and spread any ease evenly. Baste stitch this seam in place and remove the pins. You want to avoid any gathering or puckering. If it is necessary you can clip into the seam allowance but not the full depth of it.

Princess seam basting

Princess Seam – Step 3

Machine stitch the seam, being careful to ensure that the underside of the fabric is laying flat.

Princess seam sewing

Princess Seam – Step 4

Remove the basting stitches and cut more notches along the curve of the seam to allow the seam to shape the bust when pressed flat. Do not cut into the line of stitching.

Princess seam pressing

Princess Seam – Step 5

Press the seam open on the wrong side of the fabric. If you have a tailor’s ham use this for pressing to ensure the seam retains the correct curved shape.

Princess seam bust front


Princess seam bust curve