Make It or Buy It? Princess Seam Style 1950s Dress

Posted by on Jun 26, 2016

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Piece of ClothingBetty Lou Dress from Heart of Haute 

Based on: Princess seam button front dress 

Assessment: A cotton princess seam button front dress like the Betty Lou isn’t too difficult to make. Depending on how fast you sew, you can probably cut it out and construct it in four to seven hours. 

Also See: 

Skill to Know - Easing: The biggest challenge is sewing the curved princess bust seams. Don’t let that deter you, though. Anyone can master curved seam sewing as long as you understand the concept of easing. Ease is when one seam is longer than another seam it's being attached to. This construction allows for movement and fullness, like in a sleeve cap or over the bust. 

To sew an eased seam, you’ll probably need to pin. Some very experienced tailors can ease collars and sleeves in with very minimal and sometimes even no pinning but this is usually after lots of practice. To begin, make sure your stitching lines and notches are marked in a way that you can see. 

Next, find your notches and pin those in place on the stitching line, pins perpendicular to the sewing line. The longer piece should be on "top" so you can see how much fabric you need to ease in. Then, locate a point about halfway between a set of notches and pin again perpendicular. 

Continue pinning in this manner, splitting the difference between sets of pins and matching seam lines. If there is a lot of ease, you could end up with tons of pins. This is normal. Don’t be stingy with pinning.You’re going to have to sew over the pins. Some people caution about sewing over pins and I guess there are probably machines out there that don’t like it much but there are times when you’re going to have to in order to get a smooth pucker-free seam. 

When moving the fabric through the machine, don’t be afraid but move at a medium pace, as it's possible to break a needle. I usually sew from the side that I pinned, meaning the longer side on top. A trick to try if you’re having trouble getting a smooth seam is to sew with the longer side on the bottom. No need to pin from the other side, just flip it over and sew. 

Pattern for Reference: A search for “princess seam button front dress pattern” landed on this pattern which would work really well for the Betty Lou Dress. It even has the back tie and a similar collar. 

If you want to add some patch pockets just cut out rectangles and stitch them on. 

Adjustments to Pattern: If you want the dress to be sleeveless, you’ll just need to shorten the shoulder seam about 1” from the outside arm edge. Leave it where it is under the arm and draw a new curve from underarm to top of shoulder. Then use bias tape to finish the seam. 

Tool to Consider - Bias Tape Markers: If you want to get really fancy and make your own bias from the dress fabric, invest in some bias tape makers. They come in various sizes and if you’ve never used one, they will change your life.  

Decision: To make this dress, you’ll need about four yards of fabric and buttons. Depending on how expensive your fabric is, you could make this dress for $50.00 - $100.00. This dress would be worth buying if you like the colors/prints it comes in.

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