Sunday, April 15, 2012

Princess Seam FBA

I had a couple of questions regarding my princess seam FBA method, so I thought the easiest way to tell you about it was to show you how I go about it. I've spent some time really struggling with FBAs, particularly on garments with a waistline seam. The traditional method of doing an FBA, where you slash and spread, adding a horizontal dart, also adds width to the waist, which I don't need. (Don't be a hater - that's just the way I'm built.) I've dealt with this by deepening or adding a vertical underbust dart, which helps, but I end up with big honking darts that are tricky to sew without dimpled points. So a princess seamed bodice allows me to have a snug fit in the waist, while still allowing plenty of space for the girls, without gigantic darts.
We don't always want to look like this...
I've tried a lot of methods for doing an FBA on a princess seamed bodice, but many of them still add width in the waist, since they are basically just a slight modification of the traditional method. My favorite method (and the one I used on this dress and this dress) can be found in the book The Perfect Fit.
Basically, you add width to the side princess panel at the bust point (where you are the fullest) and then taper out to nothing at the notches. You do need to make sure to also lengthen the front princess panel, also at the bust point. I always have to shorten the neckline of my tops, so that is why my front princess panel isn't evenly lengthened.

Another option is to muslin your bodice (or tissue fit) and leave the princess seam open between the notches. It will gape open over your bust when you try it on for fit. Measure the widest opening and add half of that measurement to your side princess panel, again lengthening the front princess panel to fit. If you have a lower bust, this is a particularly useful method, as you can easily move the bust point at the same time by adding fullness where you need it, without any regard for where the pattern has it.
My typical method is a combination of these. I make the flat pattern alteration as above, then make my muslin and alter it if I need to using the open seam method. It's taken me a few tweaks to get it just right, but I think it was worth it. Now I have a princess seamed bodice I can count on, and no more Madonna boobs.


  1. This is the way I do it too! And I still need waist width too, but it still works. :)

  2. Woot woot! OK, that is totally *exactly* what I told K-Line she should do (same book even) and it worked for her, too. I feel like total awesome now (and I have awesome grammar!)

    Actually I do this same alteration with every princess seam I encounter... in the reverse. :P

    I will go slink off to my hater cave now. ;)

  3. I'm short in the torso, so I have to take a lot, relatively speaking, out of the top of the princess seam. On my favorite pattern, that connects right near the armscye notch, and I ended up taking about 1" out there. I also have to taper that seam under the bust. But every time I finish another wonderful princess seamed dress or top, I, too, cheer, "Hooray for No More Madonna Boobs!" (That's a really funny line, BTW.)

  4. You will always be the "material girl" to me no matter the shape of your boobs.

  5. Thanks for this. I have very similar for issues and have struggled with getting darts the right shape. I recently discovered the S dart for the waist, which really helps, FYI.