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Design Challenge – Princess Seam Dress

DONNAKAYE | Posted in General Discussion on

Folks, I have a design challenge for you.  I have this princess-seamed summer dress that fits me great and I just love, plus it’s probably the most comfortable garment in my wardrobe for these hot, humid south Louisiana summers.  I have some gorgeous gabardine in several coordinated colors: navy, yellow, hot rose and a kind of kelly/olive green (which color would work in any season).

I have attached a sketch of the design I have in mind.  I have two questions: First, any brilliant ideas come to mind for detailing the front?  I sketched it to include a faux over/underlap with buttons.  Here’s my plan to accomplish that: Add a healthy CF seam allowance instead of cutting it on the fold and then manipulating it so that it appears I have the over/underlap.  (In other cases I have simply extended the CF fold, say, 2″ or so, stitching it at the original seamline, then opening it up and pressing the CF fold line over the stitching line, followed by buttons down CF.  I use this design technique a lot.) 

My plan in my sketch is to do it with bias loops to add to the genuine look of the over/underlap.  I also thought about designing some type of embroidery.  Second question: Color combinations?  My husband, who seems to have a good design eye (I hate to admit it, but it’s better than mine) thinks it would be awesome in navy blue and white, which means I’ll have to go purchase the white, something I’d rather not do.)

Third: I have always done a bound armhole and neckedge with a CB zipper.  It’s fast, easy and foolproof and reduces an additional layer of fabric (i.le., facing) that can get real hot and uncomfortable.  Where the two colors join, don’t y’all think my binding should change colors as well?  I tried to draft the sketch to see what it would look like with a navy blue binding, but I think that detracts from the lines of the garment.

Fourth: I considered cutting a hem facing and stitching it right sides to the hemline with a scalloped edge, which would enable me to do some really cool embroidery, but if I do that, don’t y’all think I should eliminate the two-tone garment and make it a solid?  I don’t want the dress to get too overdone.  I like it very simply stated.

Designers out there?  Help?


  1. stitchintime | | #1

    "I have attached a sketch of the design I have in mind." 

    I love these little design challenges but I don't know where to see the sketch. Could you also post a picture of the dress and maybe the fabrics?

    Edited 8/12/2007 1:49 pm ET by stitchintime

    1. DONNAKAYE | | #2

      Oops.  Forgot to attach the sketch!  Here it is.

      1. solosmocker | | #4

        Great sketch! I am going to take back my suggestion. There are lots of verticals here which is great. I think the navy contrast would add even more and I think it would look great to have all the binding contrasting. JMHO. Your husband does have a good eye. Navy and white immediately come to mind and is a classic and "summer" combination, kind of like a spectator pump shoe. Wouldn't that go great with your dress. Another suggestion with a totally different look could be navy and chocolate brown, a little more dour but I think could work also. The navy and white just screams "cool summer dress" and is always a winner. I will follow your process closely. Great fun!solo

        1. DONNAKAYE | | #5

          Solosmocker, are you saying you think you would go with navy blue binding completely around the neckline and armhole rather than making the binding match the body of the dress?  I think that's what I understand.....d.

          1. stitchintime | | #6

            I think you should put the navy on the sides and the green in the center. The bias binding on the armholes should be navy and the neckline binding should be green. That should be striking but also plain enough to handle some decorative embroidery around the hem.  I would suggest the scalloped hem or the embroidery. I think both would be overkill but it depends on how much embroidery you were planning.

            Navy and white will, of course, work really well: it's a classic combination.

            I think the lighter colours (pink and yellow) with the green/navy would be a very strong contrast. If that suits your personality, go for it. Personally, I would have to tone those bright colours down with a flowered print that has some darker colours in it.

          2. DONNAKAYE | | #7

            I really  hadn't thought of the green/navy.  I like that combination a lot.  So navy binding completely around the armhole, so that the only contrast would be from the princess seams up to the top of the shoulder seam?  Interesting.  I like that.  I'll have to sketch it out to get a visual frame of reference, because I can't picture that in my mind.  I also like the idea about toning it down with a darker print, but I'm not sure what combination you had in mind.  Can you elaborate on that?  I'm olive complexion, black hair, so a lot of my wardrobe has strong colors and I can wear them well without looking ridiculous.

            I have enough yardage to make any of the dresses in solid colors.  I'll probably reserve scalloping/embroidery for those, just at the hemline.  I think that's enough for my taste.  I'd have to agree with you there.

            I'm really curious about the print, though....???

          3. starzoe | | #8

            I like the idea of blue and white, but almost any of your colours would go well with the dark blue. As for embellishment, being a minimalist, I would think of using, instead of bias bindings, a co-ordinated two colour cording on the princess line, around the armscye and around the neck. In fact this would work very well using only one colour for the dress and a striped cording with white and contrast colour and perhaps the buttons in the contrast colour.I think that the bias bindings you have in mind if wider than about 1cm would take the eye away from the nice princess line; now the eye bounces from buttons to armscyes to neckline. I have found that a garment with buttons and buttonholes all down the front tend to gap at times so I make working button/buttonholes down to about midchest (just enough to get into the dress), and just buttons sewn on the remainder of the button flap.With your colouring, the hot rose would look smashing, especially with navy/white cording. About the gabardine - what weight is it?

            Edited 8/12/2007 3:24 pm ET by starzoe

          4. DONNAKAYE | | #9

            "With your colouring, the hot rose would look smashing, especially with navy/white cording. About the gabardine - what weight is it?"

            Wow!  I never would have considered the hot rose and navy either.  And with navy and white cording???  I think I like that combination best of all.  Well, I'll be doing a mock front opening anyway, so I won't have to worry about the dress opening up anywhere along the front.

            The best is this two-tone piping or cording idea!  And then coordinating buttons down center front, keeping the buttons simple so as to keep it understated.  I agree with you about ruining the lines.  I think the lines make the statement, but I also think that a narrow piping would keep it minimal and would do quite nicely.

            I'm not sure of the exact weight of the gabardine, but it is year-round weight.  I have it in enough of each color to do an entire mix-and-match wardrobe, which is why I'm asking for suggestions for the dress.  My plan is a sleeveless jewel neckline top over straight skirt or slim pants; vest; Chanel type jacket (but without all the understructure, since the body of the gabardine carries the garments quite nicely all alone, plus all that understructure is just too darn hot for summer down here); and then, of course, the dress.  So, for example, the green  jacket over the navy skirt with a navy blue silk rose pinned on the shoulder; the pink sleeveless top over the navy skirt, with the navy jacket and navy and gold jewelry accessories; the yellow over the rose, with the pink jacket, or even a midweight print jacket to match.  And with the vest I can also combine the vest and skirt with a pretty print blouse in multitudes of colors and combinations.

            I did this wardrobe two years ago for winter in shades of wine, taupe and medium dark sage green in a medium weight crepe and silky type blouses and it was just smashing all winter long, especially since I am a huge scarf person, with scarf clips tied in clever little ways (like mom!).  Since I am so fond of scarves, I don't often put collars on my necklines.  And where I do have jewel necklines, they are perfect for -- you guessed it -- jewel and pearl necklaces and earrings.  I'm a busy court reporter and my dress is all very, very tailored.  That is what I like for work.

            Okay.  Unless I hear some other absolutely fabulous idea, so far I'm convinced I'll do it with the two-tone cording/piping around neckline and shoulder line, with coordinating buttons down the front.  Any other suggestions?

            I'll probably start this project in the next week or so (soon as I can get unchained from my desk!).  If I'm particularly proud of it, I'll post a photo!

          5. starzoe | | #10

            I am happy that you like my idea. And your plan to sew a whole wardrobe of co-ordinating colours is a great one. Another idea: if you find a fabulous fabric to make the bias strips for the cording, buy some extra - it could add whole new multiples to your wardrobe (think of patterned t-tops, even a jacket.) We could go on almost endlessly!I love planning outfits like this, and I still enjoy the challenge despite the fact that I no longer go to work (retired long ago) and the choice of dress where I live is west-coast-casual, too casual for my liking. Post some photos later.

          6. Gloriasews | | #11

            Very slimming design!  I'd go for Starzoe's idea of putting buttons & real buttonholes in the top of the dress, leaving an opening down to the bustline, then just buttons down the rest of the front.  That way, you'll eliminate the back zipper. 

            I've made dresses similar to your style & have ended up sewing up the front, as well, so it doesn't gape.  One of my dresses was a cotton small polka-dot (navy background), that I trimmed around the neck & down the front with a 1/2" gathered white lace & attached white buttons.  It is cool for summer, but then, all my summer dresses are cotton. 

             For you, I like the navy & white version the best - or the navy & rose.  The green would work well, depending upon the shade of green.  As for the scalloped hem, it would be lovely, but the embroidery there may be overkill (& lots of work to make sure it's absolutely even if you are following the scallops).  You could do the scallopped hem & embroidery if you also scallopped the neckline & embroidered there, as well, but don't do that if you use a print in your panel.  Of course, you would have to decide if you are changing thread colours (contrast) when you move to the lighter centre panel.  Good luck with it & do post a picture.



    2. solosmocker | | #3

      Donna, I can't wait to see your sketch too! If you need help attaching it let us know. I will wait to see the sketch before I make any suggestions other than I definitely think the bias binding should change colors, a highend touch. I do lots of bias binding too and agree it is so easy. Can't wait to see your sketchsolo

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