Last month, I wrote a post talking about how to raise or lower the bust darts of a pattern (see Tutorial: Lowering (or raising) a bust dart). This month, we’re going to learn how to apply the same concept to a princess seamed bodice. This technique can be applied to both armscye and shoulder princess seamed pattern pieces.
Note that if you need to raise the bust fullness, you’ll follow the exact same procedure, but simply raise the cutout boxes instead of lowering them.
If you’ll recall, most commercial patterns are drafted for a “perky” B-cup sized bust. As your bust size increases, you not only will likely need to make a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) to your pattern tissue, you may very likely need to lower the bust point, since larger breasts tend to be heavier and therefore have lower bust points.
Diagnosing the issue
It’s a little easier to tell that you need the bust fullness lowered on a princess seamed garment (IMO) than on a darted garment. With darts, you simply get darts pointing somewhere other than the apex. On looser fitting garments, dart placement can shift around a little bit, making the best location sometimes a little bit of a judgment call. With princess seams, however, you’ll see a soft “bubble” of fabric above your bust, which simply means that the fullest part of the bust for this particular pattern started higher up on the bodice than where the actual fullest part of your bust is on your body.
Before you start
Just like determining how much to lower a set of bust darts, you’ll need to make a muslin or tissue fit your pattern to determine how much to lower your princess seam fullness. See Tutorial: Lowering (or raising) a bust dart for instructions on how to do this. Use the same determination technique for princess seams as for bust darts.
Order of operations: Lowering fullness
One important difference to point out between lowering bust darts and lowering princess seam fullness has to do with when in your sequence of pattern alterations to perform the lowering step.
- With bust darts, you should generally lower the darts AFTER you perform an FBA (if needed). This is because the nature of a darted FBA will automatically lower the darts some.
- With princess seams, lower the bust fullness BEFORE you perform the FBA. Your FBA will add length over the bust but not actually lower the fullness itself.
Lowering the fullness of the princess seams
The actual technique for lowering princess seam fullness is nearly identical to lowering bust darts even though your pattern pieces look very different. Additionally, you’ll be working with two different pattern pieces instead of just one.
For this tutorial, I’m using an armscye princess seam bodice. You can use the same technique for shoulder princess seams.
To lower the fullness on a princess seamed bodice:
- On the side panel, draw a box around the fullest part of the bust on the pattern piece. This area is usually indicated by an upper and a lower notch.
- With scissors, cut out the box.
- Directly slide the box down the amount that you need to lower the bust fullness. Fill in the resulting gap with paper behind your pattern pieces, and tape everything into place.
- True up the seamlines.
When you do this, make sure that you shave off the bit that’s ABOVE the taped-in gap that you just created. (If you were to extend that part of the seamline to the lower portion instead of shaving off the top bit, you’d get a weird bump above your bust. Ask me how I know.)
- Trim the excess.
The side panel is now finished. Now you’ll need to lower the fullness on the center panel of the bodice.
- Like you did with the side panel, draw a box around the two notches noting the fullest part of the bust.
- Cut out the box and slide it down the amount that you’re lowering the bust fullness.
- True up the seam.
- Trim the excess.
That’s it! You’ve now lowered the bust fullness on both the side and center panels of your princess seamed bodice.
If you need to perform an FBA, you can do that next. See Princess Seams: An FBA for Large Busts.