Changing a fit and flare knit dress into a dress with princess seams!

Hey there!

We are just finishing up our three-month-long Make-It-Your-Own Project and as you might know, it’s turning into a monthly adventure…albeit at a somewhat slower pace. Whew. (you can see all the details at the end of the email)

Our final project was to take the basic knit dress and change the pattern into a new design.

My basic knit dress was the perfect canvas for some loving touches, like embroidering around the neck and hem and adding in a tag that I printed during the block printing video. (a bonus lesson in the Project!)

For my altered piece, I decided to combine the bodice and skirt pieces into one piece and then add in princess seams. Which allowed me to add in a side panel pocket!

Here’s how I went about it…

The front pieces

  1. Removed the seam allowance from the bodice and skirt waistlines.
  2. Lined the bodice and skirt piece up to create a single pattern piece and traced around them, adding a smooth, curved transition at the waistline.
  3. Sketched in a princess seam that went from the mid-point in the arm hole, across the bust apex, and followed the curves of the side seam.
  4. I cut the pattern apart and added seam allowance to both pieces at the princess seam line.
  5. Adding in a side panel pocket I then took that front side panel and marked where I wanted the pocket. I cut the panel apart at that line and measured down 6 inches for a deep pocket and added another six inches for the pocket to come back up on itself. I used the side panel pieces to give me the right shapes for the pocket.
  6. Then I taped the side panel, now quite long, all together and set it aside.

The back pieces

  1. I then traced around my back bodice and skirt piece to get a single pattern piece for the back.
  2. Why didn’t I just use the front piece for the back? I knew I wanted the princess seam curves to be less pronounced for the back (less to go around on the upper back!).
  3. So I drew the princess seam from the midpoint of the armhole and brought it in the same distance as the front, but with a smaller curve from armhole to final seam.
  4. Then I followed the curve of the side seam.
  5. I cut the pattern apart and added seam allowance to both pieces at the princess seam line.

The sleeve

  1. I cut the sleeve pattern into a short cap length and added an upward curve in the hem.
  2. Then I slashed the pattern and spread it open to add volume to the cap…kind of a fluttered sleeve.
  3. I then straightened out the side seam of the sleeve.

As is the process with pattern drafting, it didn’t quite turn out how I had envisioned. The pocket ended up being too low and way too narrow…because the princess seam needs to be moved closer to the center front by 2-3 inches.

This is the way of pattern drafting. (actually, making in general!)

You are creating something from you creative imagination and giving yourself the best chance of achieving what you wish by sketching out, or planning your project and making informed and careful choices.

Then you see what you get. And you tweak what you end up with until you get just what you want…whether that’s what you expected to get or it’s a surprise!

It can be frustrating to not end up with the “perfect” thing from the get go…but the beauty of drafting for your body and your style is the process and all that you learn with each try. With each try, you get closer and closer to what you want and you’ll have even more success the next time you give it a go.

Getting really good at sewing clothes you love is about learning those little things that can have such an effect, enjoying the process AND being okay with a dress that is pretty darn close.

This dress, it’s pretty darn close.

I love how it fits and while I’ll adjust the pattern for another version, I’m wearing the life out of this one…waltzing around with my hands jammed into the tight little pockets!

The process of sewing clothes you love is exhilarating and having a tribe of humans to do it with is even better.

psst…did you know I have a monthly membership where we do just this sort of thing, but together…and there’s so much more!!! Check it out.

After I tweaked the pattern…