In this post, I’ll be explaining how I added princess seams and flare to the skirt of S1878, but this process can work for a variety of patterns. Adding princess seams might be a bit time consuming, but it’s not difficult. Adding flare to a skirt is also fairly straight forward. The basic concept is to figure out how much total flare you want to add, and then figure out how much you’ll want to add to each seam. I’m working with two patterns here, S1878 (sorry it’s OOP, but you can often find it on ETSY or Ebay) and Tessuti’s Bella dress. (You may be interested in how I eliminated the bust dart from S1878.)
First, I copied S1878 onto Swedish Tracing Paper. (The link is just for convenience; I am not an affiliate.) I really like this stuff, but I know my sewing teacher likes tissue paper because it drapes and behaves more like fabric when tissue fitting. I like Swedish Tracing paper because it’s durable, and I use my patterns over and over. You may want to experiment with what works best for you. Just for reference, I copied S1878 with seam allowances.
To add the shoulder princess seams, I started with the back. I had darts in the back, and that gave me an easy point of reference for drawing the vertical princess line.
In the first photo, you can see the dart that I drew in. I marked the spot approximately in the middle of the shoulder seam. I used a hip curve ruler (like this – again, no affiliation or compensation) to line up the curve from the top of the dart to the top of the shoulder. You may be able to see my note to eliminate 1/4″ at the shoulder, which is a common dart. After I drew the line at the shoulder, I eliminated 1/8″ on each side of the line. The bottom of the shoulder princess line is just the end of the dart to the hem, drawn parallel to the straight of grain.
I cut on the princess line and removed the area inside the dart, so the pattern curves gently in at that spot. Then I cut long pieces of tracing paper, taped them to the cut line, and added seam allowances to both sides of the princess seam. I don’t have a good photo of that.
Next I added the princess seam line to the front. I like the curve on the back, so I laid the front on the back and copied the line from the shoulder to the top of the dart. Then I drew a line parallel to the straight of grain down to the hem.
I cut on the princess line and added a seam allowance to each side.
So now the pattern has a center front, side front, center back and side back pieces. As I mentioned in my last previous post, this allows me to distribute the flare of the skirt. I like the amount of the flare of the Bella dress, but I don’t like it concentrated at the sides of the dress.
The next step is to determine how much flare to add and where to add it. To figure this out, I layered my new pattern on top of the Bella pattern, matching the shoulder seams. (I had done this before, so I had an approximation of where the patterns line up.) I measured the difference between the patterns at the top, middle and bottom of the side seams, and I made a note of the measurements.
Now for a little math, but don’t worry! I’m not a math whiz, and I could do this. The first measurement photo shows 1 1/4″ difference between my new pattern and Bella. I know that instead of just one side seam (Bella), I have two additional seams to join center front and side front. That’s four seams. So, I divide 1.25 by 4 and get about 3/10″, which I translate into 3/8″ (because we sew in 1/8ths and I figure a little more ease is easier to deal with than a little less). In the middle, I’ve got about a 2 1/2″ difference, and I divide that by 4 to get 5/8″ on the nose. At the bottom, I have about a 5″ difference, which is 1 1/4″ when divided by 4.
To add the flare, I taped tissue to the side, marked spots at the top (3/8″), middle (5/8″) and bottom (1 1/4″) and drew a straight line.
Then I added flare to the princess seams. After adding the flare, I added the side seam.
The final step is to cut out a toile and evaluate how things went. I’m happy with the flare and how it works in a cotton lawn. I like the even distribution of the flare in the skirt, and I think it will be even better in a fabric with more drape. The only issue is with easing in the sleeves. Liberty cotton lawn doesn’t like to ease, but I think adjusting the pattern will save me some frustration later, regardless of the fabric. In a future post, I’ll show how I add a seam to help with the ease situation.