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help! princess seams!

shev | Posted in General Discussion on

hi! newbie here 🙂

I want to sew a long dress with princess seams running from shoulder to hem, and have my eye on a bold fabric with large motifs. how would I handle the princess seams? do I try to get them to match? is it even possible? could stripes work?

all thoughts and ideas welcome here!



  1. user-51823 | | #1

    it's not impossible, but you will need to lay it out on the cutting table at the store to see how much extra fabric you will need. the bigger the motifs, the more extra you'll have to buy. another thing to consider is that because princes seams curve, your motifs will be reshaped somewhat, narrower. how wide are the stripes, and how bold are the colors? i would not do vertical or horizontal stripes with princess seams.

  2. HeartFire2 | | #2

    you will NOT be able to get a perfect match, and this will vary to a degree on the shape of the curve along the bust, the larger the bust, the more extreme the curve and the less matching. Using a pattern with shoulder princess lines will get you a better match than one with armscye princess lines. The pattern will also 'nip in' at the waistline and again at this area you will not get a perfect match, and then it depends on how flared the skirt is....

  3. cafms | | #3

    Threads magazine, #118 (May 2005), had an article about using large scale prints.  If you have it maybe it would give you some help and ideas.

    1. shev | | #4

      thanks to all for your ideas.
      I will try and find that threads article.I am also wondering: would it look better or worse if I put piping down the seams? it would clearly delineate the areas, so a precise match is less important at that point, but... I am not eager to look like a pair of curtains!also, I wondered if it might be good enough to make sure the fabric matches on the horizontal, ie, even in the seams don't meet, that the same line of the motif would hit at the same height of the dress.I have a front panel and two side panels on the dress. this matching stuff might make it a lot more expensive in terms of how much fabric I buy? or maybe I would just take the time to cut two pieces separately, not randomly on folded fabric?just thinking out loud...thanks again,
      and more feedback welcomed!
      elishevaps is there a place online I can go and look at styles of dresses, see how others have handled the design aspect?

      1. cafms | | #5

        The article in Threads does talk about using piping in the seams.  Also some places you would not want a design to fall on the body.

        Here are some sites I like to go to get some inspiration.





        http://www.anthropologie.com/   This one has some dresses with larger scale prints that I looked at.  Didn't check all the others.


        1. Josefly | | #8

          You make a good point about watching out for where certain parts of the design fall on the body. It's a good idea, I think, to hold the fabric up against the body in front of a mirror to see how it would be best placed.I loved looking through the sites you provided links for, especially the first one - what beautiful clothes in gorgeous colors.

        2. WandaJ | | #9

          I enjoyed the tours of most of the sites you listed, particularly, eluxury!

      2. Alice in Atlanta | | #6

        Yes, it is very important for the horizontal to match.  This fabric is not your best choice for this pattern.  If you use it you'll be disappointed since with all the nips and tucks....there won't be ANY matches.  I would use a pattern like this with a rich fabric which will highlight the models figure and the lovely fabric, like a silk shantung. 

        If you want to use that fabric, which is very busy and has a lot going on,  use a less busy pattern.  All your hard work will not show up when the fabric has so much pattern.  Save it for something simpler which will allow the fabric to  be the star.

         Does this make sense?


        1. shev | | #7

          dear alice and cafms,
          thanks so much for your replies!alice, I think you said it best: don't do it!but I am going to look at those websites, and try to reconsider what fabric might suit this dress better...thanks again,

          1. Teaf5 | | #13

            I agree with the others; the large floral will make matching a headache and won't make the most of the lovely vertical lines of the princess styling. Piping would just accentuate the mixture of floral curves and straight lines, making it all very, very busy, even if you could match the motifs.When using large motifs in other patterns, I lay out each piece separately (and make a tissue copy of anything that says Cut 2) onto the single layer of fabric. Then I step back and look at the motifs showing through the pattern to make sure none fall on a bust point, buttock point, or the center front or back. After cutting one piece, I lay it next to the second one to cut, lining up the notches & allowing for seam allowances to match motifs along the seams and to check the placement of motifs on the second piece.Of course this is a very time consuming process, but taking the time at the layout stage prevents many disasters down the road. On a pattern with few seams, large motif matching may require a half yard; with more seams, it may require almost twice as much yardage as called for by the pattern.

  4. Fruzzle | | #10

    Shev, I've seen princess seam designs with the front panel in one fabric and the side panels in another. Could you use your fabric with a co-ordinating solid and still use the princess pattern you like?

    1. user-51823 | | #11

      that's a great idea, especially if she's married to the big print. should be slimming, too, if a coordinating darker color is used for the panels

  5. Ralphetta | | #12

    The vertical lines of princess seaming are beautiful and slimming.  If you combine these lines with a big, busy print, you will lose a lot of what is appealing about the style in the first place.  It can be done, but maybe you should reconsider either the fabric or the style.  This is, of course, just my opinion.

  6. solosmocker | | #14

    When dealing with larger prints I cut one piece at a time, no folding obviously. Then On that first piece, ie side panel of the princess dress, I trace a simple outline around a few of the major motifs. I then use this to help layout the second side panel. Hope this helps a little but I am in accord with the others. This pattern will not make the best use of your print.

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