Video: Empire Line BodiceThis video was uploaded to YouTube on 3 August 2022. See my YouTube Channel for my other videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiWmFg4YtA0t30V5da3YUeA Subscribe to my channel if you want to be advised when I post new content.
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Hi, I’m Maria from dresspatternmaking.com and I draft my own sewing patterns. My focus for a number of years has been perfecting systems for drafting blocks that will get a better fit for Non-Standard Figures. I have my own unique system and instructions for drafting the Bodice Block and the Pants Block. From now on, I will be aiming at writing step-by-step instructions for drafting patterns, starting with dresses, then jackets and pants and jeans, tops and so on.
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So ….welcome to my channel. Hi, I’m Maria from dresspatternmaking.com and this video is Video No.2 in a series of 10, titled Variations on a Silhouette. Video No.1 was Contouring, which covered lowered necklines and cutaway armholes. If you haven’t already watched that one, I recommend you do so because that is assumed knowledge. Now, in this video I’ll be covering drafting the bodice pattern pieces, which include an Empire Line and princess design line.
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I will be walking you through drafting those bodice pieces step-by-step. So the Empire Line is a design line under the bust, and the bust is fitted or semi fitted and the skirt falls from below the bust. The Empire Line is just a design line, whereas the Princess Design line is actually not only a design line, it’s also a dart equivalent.
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So the Bodice Block… on your bodice block the darts in the waist and the side seam are moved, manipulated into the princess design line. So that is a design line AND a dart equivalent, whereas the Empire Line is just a design line. Now when we get to the step-by-step instructions, I will actually be drafting two… with two blocks.
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So to your left I will have the Standard Block Size 14 and to your right I’ll have my block. So I’ll be doing them both step-by-step or showing you them both step-by-step so you can get a comparison of what they look like. Because for a large bust, the final pattern pieces look significantly different than they look for the Standard Figure.
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And I don’t have even a particularly large bust. So people who’ve got very, very large busts will at least be able to get an idea of how their pattern pieces will end up looking so much different to the Standard Figure. As I said, I’ll also be drafting the crossover bodice. And this actually this dress actually has a crossover bodice.
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I ended up sewing it down. You can use the crossover for a wrap dress if you wish, or you can just use it to finish off the bodice, which is the original reason why I actually drafted a crossover bodice and I’ll I’ll cover that at some point. So first, before we get to the step-by-step instructions, let’s just cover some information about the Empire Line, the Princess Line and some other miscellaneous stuff.
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When I finish this, I’ll come back here and write down the bottom here at what time the actual step-by-step instructions start. So let’s get going and learn about the Empire Line first. In the previous Contouring video, I mentioned the Empire Line markings that are included with the contour markings on the block. Now, this was from the textbook that I learned pattern making from – that textbook is by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, who is a professor of fashion design at the Fashion Center of the Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
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So I consider her textbook the Patternmaking Bible – or one of them. So when I first looked up how to draft an Empire Line dress, the textbook said this: “The ‘Classic Empire’ has a style line crossing under the bust and to emphasize the contour under the bust, the midriff section is fitted.” So the dress shown – to the right
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there – is one of my earlier dresses where I tried out this style, but this “Classic Empire”, and I’m saying that with air quotes, ends up with a waist line which is quite at odds with the original historical empire. When I think of ‘classical’ generally, I think of something that serves as the standard of the style. And I would have thought that that would be the historical empire.
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But aside from the semantics, the style that I prefer, I like and I use is closer to – but only closer to, not exactly – the historical empire line. And by that I mean the Empire Line that was created and became fashionable in the late 18th century and was in style until the early 19th century. And it referred to the empire, part of it referred to the period of the first French empire.
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So this historical empire had the style line of the empire around the body in a straight line, not dipping down at the back as per the instructions in my textbook. So absolutely no fitting around the waist. The skirt falls from the under the bust and generally a gathered skirt, but not always, as shown by some of the styles here.
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So we’re talking about the kind of look from Jane Austen period dramas. So it’s completely different to the waisted style, which emphasized the difference between the waist and the bust or the waist and the hips, or all of them. So you get that hourglass effect. So the reason why I prefer and use the Empire Line and specifically the Empire Line where the skirt falls from the Under Bust is because of my wide hips. Not talking about my big bottom, though that my add to it, but more specifically my wide hips.
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Now this dress on my body form, which is a fiberglass cast made from my body about 15 years ago – the dress is very clingy – there’s no ease there. So I put this dress on specifically so you could see the outline of my hips on my body form. If we compare Didi’s hip width to her shoulder width, you can see her shoulders are actually wider than her hips.
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For me, you can see with my body form that my hips are wider than my shoulders by a long shot. Now the photos were taken 100% face on, but you can still get the idea. And this is not just a case of fat – for those who might think I might just need to lose weight – Even when I was quite slim, when I was much younger, I had the same issue compared to the widest part of my hips,
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My shoulders are very small. I also have proportionally shorter legs. So what that means for me and women like me who have wide hips and narrow shoulders, is that a skirt that falls from the waist will emphasize the hips more than a skirt that falls from the under bust. Waisted dresses don’t suit me at all, especially when adding in my shorter legs.
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That’s why I love the Empire Line. It is much more flattering for my shape. It’s a flattering style for a few different figures, not only for my big hips and small shoulders and or/short legs. It would suit those with thicker waists to emphasize the bust and hide the waist. It elongates the frame, so good for shorter women in particular, though, good for women who want to de-emphasize the waist or their hips.
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As in these images, you can see that it looks good on thin women too. OK, so that’s the Empire Line, now the Princess Line. The three graphics on the screen are fashion flats that show you the design lines on the pattern. For the next few slide, while I’m talking about the Princess Line, there are waist seams. I’m not including the Empire Line,
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I’m just talking about the Princess Line, on the whole Bodice Block to the waist. Now the Princess Line is both a design line and a dart equivalent. The darts from the block have been manipulated or moved into a design line. So if you made a dress with your Bodice Block and your skirt block, you’d get dress A – there are darts in the waist.
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And the side seam of the bodice. In dress B the darts have been moved or manipulated, so now they are included in the design line that runs from the armhole to the waist. That’s an armhole Princess Line. In dress C, the darts would be moved or manipulated so that they are now included in the design line that runs from the shoulder to the waist.
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That’s a Shoulder Princess Line. But as I said, the Princess Line is a dart equivalent. There are no darts. The design line absorbs the dart value and the design line creates a new pattern piece. So on the left, the design with two darts, as for the Bodice Block, has one pattern piece for the bodice front, whereas the Princess Line designs have two pattern pieces.
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The same applies to the bottom back. That is, if you are also doing a Princess Line on the bodice back. Now I would like to talk more about why you would want to use the princess line. But here you can see that if you want to do color blocking, for example, that’s creating designs with different blocks of color.
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You need a design line like the Princess Line to achieve that. I’ve mentioned that moving the darts into the Princess Line is dart manipulation. So we’ll touch on that very briefly to make sure you understand that concept. Now, the top bodice graphic, the large one in blue shows you how a pattern that has darts in the waist and the side seam look like in a garment flat.
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So those are the darts that in the position of the block, well, at least the block that I use, some people use a block with darts in the waist and the shoulder. The English system tends to use that shoulder dart block. The American systems tend to use the side seam dart and I prefer the side seam dart block. So the darts in that top blue graphic can be converted to any of the designs shown below it, and probably many, many others.
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You will end up with the same fit. Just the darts are in a different position, so the darts in the block can be moved anywhere around the perimeter of the block. But of course you must do that dart manipulation correctly, based on the bust point. So the Armhole Princess Line and the Shoulder Princess Line, emphasized here, are just two of the many different ways you can manipulate the darts on your block to produce a different design.
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With some designs, you still end up with darts. You are just moving the darts somewhere else rather than the side seam and waist. But with other designs such as the armhole and shoulder princess lines as well as other design lines shown on this graphic, the darts get absorbed into the design line and they separate the bodice into pieces.
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You don’t end up with darts, but you still get the shaping that the darts provide as the dart value ends up in the design line. So a couple of the benefits of the Princess Line and actually also other designs that eliminate the dart and put the dart value into a design line, is that you can get a smoother bust curve, especially for large busts.
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So rather than having to work with darts which can end up looking pointy, you can have a smoother outcome, particularly to when you’re working with thick fabric for jackets, for example, and you have a large dart value, it is far easier to sew and get a smoother bust curve with a design line than with darts. Now another benefit,
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having vertical design lines right through the bodice can be flattering if you want to lengthen your bodice. If you are using a Princess Line in an empire line, it can look good to have the extra length through the bodice since the bodice will be short compared to the skirt. So both having the Princess Line and the bodice with an empire line and a longer skirt work well together.
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So as far as the Princess Line goes, as mentioned before, this design is good if you want to do color blocking. But not only that, it’s really fantastic for designing with stripes. So let’s start looking at drafting the Empire and Princess Line bodice. I’m using the Sleeveless Block. The steps would be the same if you are using a Sleeved Block.
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I’m not covering sleeves though until Video 7, So I’m also not starting with a fashion flat because at the moment I’m not drafting a particular style. This is general information. Okay. So since the Empire Line finishes under the bust, you need your bust mound measurement. And that was covered in the contouring video. But there’s something I need to add about the bust mound.
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As I covered in the Contouring video, the bust mound is 3 inches for the Standard Figure and that’s for all sizes. Now, if you have a large bust and you measure your bust mound, you might find that it’s not that much more than the Standard Figure, only a quarter or 1/2 an inch larger than the Standard Figure. Or it might even be the same.
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You might be puzzled and think you’ve made a mistake because you have a much larger bust than normal. Now my bust mound is only 1/2 an inch larger than the Standard Figure, but don’t worry about it. You haven’t made a mistake. Well, unless you have measured incorrectly. But if you keep measuring thinking, you have it wrong because you have a large bust and it’s coming up close to the Standard Figure.
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Again, don’t worry about it. The bust mound of itself is does not tell you about your bust size. By itself, it doesn’t mean a lot. The Under Bust measurement and the Upper Bust measurement and not only the bust measuremnent, but the bust arcs, together with the bust mound gives you a complete picture. So for example, the Standard Figure has a bust mound of 3 inches, but the Under Bust measurement is 4 inches smaller than the bust.
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That’s about 10 cms. My bust mound is 3 and a 1/2 inches. That’s only a 1/2 an inch more than the Standard Figure. But my Under Bust measurement is 7 inches – 18 cms – smaller than my bust, not quite 18 cms, 17 and 3/4. As I said before, I have a smaller frame. My Upper Bust is smaller than the Standard Figure,
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My Under Bust is smaller and my Bust Arcs are very different. eith a smaller back. I say this so you don’t get hung up on the numbers. Don’t think you had to add some use what your tape measure says. So first draw a horizontal line for the waist on a piece of paper. And that paper has to be big enough to trace your block.
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And I’ll bring in just the front block at the moment. And that bust mound is emphasized again for the moment. When you see the Brown shaded shapes that shows that they are cardboard and the cardboard indicates that it’s the block. So in the next slide, I’ll be tracing them onto the paper, the Standard Block will stay on the left hand side and I’ll use blue lines.
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My block will be on the right and I’ll use pink lines. So place the block onto the waist line with the center front waist point on the line and the center front line at right angles to the waist line. We’re going to ignore, not trace the bits that dip below the waist – the waist shaping – they are irrelevant. So trace the outline of the block with a pencil onto your paper and mark the bust point, but not the dart points. On the edges of the block,
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we do need to mark the leg points. We are not going to draw the legs as they are on the block which finish at the dart point before the bust point because they’re always pulled back from the bust point. We will be redrawing the dart legs to the bust point on the paper. Now I suggest you don’t try to trace the bust mound from the block.
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If you have marked it on the block, it will be easier to draw that directly onto the paper with a compass. So draw the dart legs from the notch point at the edge of the block to the bust point. For the waist start, draw the dart legs down to the waistline only, not below. Draw in the bust mound using a compass set to the radius of your bust mound. You could use a pencil on a piece of string,
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if you don’t have a compass. I’m going to go through the standard contouring with the standard block on the left. If you don’t understand these markings on the block, you need to watch the contouring video. On the right, I won’t be doing that with my block. I know how much my gape darts are in the neckline and the armhole at the depths I will be using. When I get to that point, I will mark the gape darts.
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So on the left I’ve put the block back on top, matching it up with my traced copy, and I’m going to transfer the contour markings at the neckline and at the shoulder tip, except actually at the shoulder tip, you know, you don’t really need to mark it at the shoulder tip. Then I’ll push an awl or something sharp through the block to the paper below, transferring the width at the bust mound.
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So for both of those contour markings, the neckline and the armhole contouring. So I’ll be pushing the awl through the four holes marked to note the widths of those gape darts on the bust mound. So when you take the block off, you’ll have the necessary information to draw in the contour markings for the shoulder and the neckline. If this is not making any sense, then you will need to watch or rewatch the Contouring video.
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This is a short aside. If you find my content useful, please share like and subscribe as this will help me get more subscribers and help me produce more content in the long term. You could also support me by buying my booklets through my Ko-Fi shop or Google Play. You could alternatively just buy me a coffee, but I will be publishing more and more booklets later this year and next year. I’ll be doing patterns from start to finish, such as dresses and jackets.
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So we’ll start drawing the Empire Line. Now iinstead of calling the pattern on the left ‘the pattern for the Standard Figure’, I’m going to say that this pattern is for a woman called Kate who has the Standard Figure. So I can refer to this as Kate’s Pattern. So for Kate I have placed the Empire Line in its usual place, which is just below the bust mound.
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I placed a ruler to touch the bust mound circle at right angles to the center front and measured up from the waist. So for Kate, from A to B, from the waistline where the Empire Line is, is 9.2 cms or 3.62 inches. Before removing the ruler., I will mark point B. For me, that line is going to be 3 cms below my bust mound that is about one and 1/16 of an inch, I think.
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So from the waist to that point is 6 cms or 2.36. So using that same measurement, I’ll measure up at the side seam from point C at the waist and mark point D. Then draw a straight line from point D to point B at the center front. There is a slight possibility that the two waist dart legs might not be the exact same length, but they will be later.
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So now we’re going to do the same to the back. That is, take off the same amount from the waist up, but first you have to trace the back block. On this slide, it has already been traced. Make sure when it is traced that the center back line is at right angles to the waist line and the center back waist is touching the waistline.
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Don’t trace the bits that end up below the waist. After you have traced the block on the pattern, measure up at the center back and at the side back for the same measurement as A to B, That is, measure up from E to F and G to H so it is the same as A to B. So for Kate, I’ll measure up from E for 9.2 cms or 3.62 inches and the same from G.
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And for me, I’ll measure up 6 cms. Then draw a line from F to H. So we can cut it at the Empire Line and discard the bottom bit. We don’t need it and it will be a distraction on screen. So if we want it to be really fitting under the bust, we do have to increase the darts to remove the excess ease. The current darts are the ones that were drawn to the waist and for most women there will be a fair amount of ease here at this level.
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Remember I showed you that in the contouring video. So the darts need to be made bigger. So here’s how you remove that excess ease; measure at the Empire Line. Don’t include the darts, measure your Under Bust – that is, measure on your body at the Under Bust and divide that by two. Because, of course, here we have 1/2 of the front and 1/2 of the back.
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Compare those two measurements and the difference between those two measurements is excess ease. And I have ‘excess’ in brackets because you might want to keep some of that ease. But whatever you decide is excess ease, you increase the darts for that amount to remove it. So as I said, you might want to leave some in for a design reason or comfort and I’ll cover that later.
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And whatever that amount of excess is, you can add 2/3 of that to the front dart, increase the dart for 2/3 of that amount and 1/3 to the back. So Kate has a Standard Figure, but I don’t have Kate in person to measure her Under Bust. For her, I know you may remember I covered this a little earlier for the Standard Figure – the Under Bust is 4 inches smaller than the bust.
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Therefore, I know that Kate’s bust, she’s a size 14, is 36 inches. Therefore, I know that her Under Bust is 32 inches. So I divide that by two and compare it to the measurement I’m taking here at the Under Bust. So for Kate, her bust is 36 inches or 91 and a 1/2 cms and the bust is 32 inches or 81.5 cms.
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Divide that by 2 makes it 16 inches or 40.75 cms. Now, the measurement here on the pattern is 17.22 inches. That’s 43.75 cms. The difference is, therefore, 1.22 inches or 3 cms, which needs to be removed by making the darts bigger. I have increased the front dart by three quarters of an inch or 2 cms in total, 3/8 of an inch or one cm each side.
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I have increased the back dart for 3/8 of an inch, which is 1 cm, 3/16 of an inch or 1/2 a cm each side. Now I have an excess of 3 and 3/4 inches – that’s 9 and a 1/2 cms. I am only going to increase the front dart by 3/4 of an inch – that’s 2 cms – and I’m not going to increase the back dart at all.
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That means I’ll be leaving 3 inches – or 7 and a 1/2 cms – of ease at the Under Bust. Now, you might think that’s a hell of a lot of ease and it is a fair amount, but consider this: Kate with a Standard Figure has only 4 inches difference between her bust and her Under Bust. So if I leave 3 inch of ease for Kate, it would end up quite shapeless for her.
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The Under Bust would be almost the same as the bust. Since I have 7 inches difference between my bust and my Under Bust, leaving 3 inches ease still gives me a fair bit of shaping. I will still have four inches of difference between my bust in my Standard Figure and I have a good reason for leaving that much ease, which I’ll go into later.
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Before we move on to the Princess Design Line, I want to talk a little about the level of the Empire design line, particularly in my case, where I lower it and I have quite a bit of ease. The bodice of these 2 dresses are made with the same pattern and actually the same pattern pieces; I re-used the pattern pieces from the one on the right when making the one on the left – for the bodice.
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So according to the pattern, they have the exact same level for the Empire Line, but the Empire line of the dress to the left looks quite a bit lower than the one on the right. It might be hard to see here, so I’ll make it clearer in the next photo. I have drawn lines on top of the Empire line
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seams. he only difference is the fabric. And sorry, I am actually only talking about the bodice. The skirt is actually different, but the difference in the bodice is just due to the fabric. They are both viscose, but the one on the left has a much looser weave than the other. This is just to say that you need to take fabric into account and sometimes you might get unexpected results due to the fabric, not due to mistakes in your draft.
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So that is just something to be aware of if you get unexpected results. Now the second thing is I have drafted this empire level at 3 cms below my bust mound. That’s 1.18 inches below the bust mound. That’s my preference. And there’s a good reason for that, which I’ll cover later. But when you look at these dresses, you might think that it looks a lot lower than 3 cms or a lot lower than 1.18 inches.
00;22;46;06 – 00;23;12;11
And I’ll show you why. When you start adding ease at the Empire Line, the fabric is not returned to the chest wall and therefore it starts looking lower. So on the left, five cms or 2 inches is just under the bust because this is showing the fabric returning to the chest wall when it’s close fitting. So, yes, it ends up just under the bust. On the right hand side,
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if there’s lots of ease there and it’s hanging loose, it looks like it’s a lot lower. The bigger the bust or the more your breasts project, the more obvious this will become. If it’s got ease so it doesn’t return to the chest wall, the style line will sit a lot lower. So this is something to keep in mind.
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If you want a loose Empire Line and you want it to look like it’s right at the Under Bust, you may need to raise the Upper Bust line to above your bust mound. So I’m going to go into a bit of detail here for those who might have my type of figure and like me hate zips because they’re hard to do up due to arthritis or whatever.
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When I say my type of figure, I mean smaller upper bust, smaller Under Bust and smaller shoulders in proportion to your bust. However, if you’ve got a really large bust, this won’t work for you. So in all these dresses I have that amount of ease in the Under Bust that I mentioned, that is 3 inches or 7.5 cms.
00;24;07;27 – 00;24;28;21
And the level of the empire is drafted at 3 cms or just over an inch below the bust mound. You can see that although there is that amount of ease , they are still fairly fitting in the bodice. Actually, they are still quite fitting in the bust. They are by no means shapeless, even though I don’t have that really close fit in the Under Bust. They show my shape without accentuating my bust too much.
00;24;29;10 – 00;24;49;12
This amount of ease at the Empire Line allows me to get these dresses over my head without zips or buttons. The only dress on this slide that has any kind of closures is the one on the bottom left that has buttons all the way down the front. But I actually don’t need to use those buttons. I can pull that dress on and off over my head also.
00;24;50;01 – 00;25;04;09
So although I have 3 inches or 7 and 1/2 cms of ease in the Under Bust, there isn’t that much ease in the bust. They are so fitting that if I had buttons on them like the one I do have buttons on, I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing them out of the house. The dress on the bottom left…
00;25;04;26 – 00;25;21;26
I love this dress in summer around the house. It’s lightweight and cool, but I won’t wear it out of the house. I did that only once. When I had my handbag on my shoulder, the buttons popped. I was in the supermarket. I looked down and almost all the buttons to the waist had popped because there is very little ease in the bust.
00;25;22;02 – 00;25;55;29
I had the handbag on my shoulder, pulls that apar. Even if it’s stiffer cotton, the same thing happens. I hate zips in the back with a passion – I find them so hard to do up. I get a lot of pain in my arms and hands at times. I will do anything not to use zips. So the fact that I can get these on without zips or buttons, even though the final measurement under the bust is less than my bust measurement, smaller by a good 5 inches or 12 and a 1/2 cms is to do with having smaller shoulders and a smaller upper bust, plus the fact that I have a pleat in the center back.
00;25;56;12 – 00;26;22;00
And that breasts are squishy. If I had a large Upper Bust or larger shoulders, I wouldn’t be able to get them on this way, despite the pleat in the back. Now I can get these dresses on easily on my body form, not a problem at all and my body form does not have collapsible shoulders. I cannot get them on Didi, even though she has collapsible shoulders because her Upper Bust is so big – the same measurement as her bust.
00;26;22;07 – 00;26;42;13
The Upper Bust is not squishy – breasts are. But if these dresses were really fitting under the bust, there’s no way I could get them over my Upper Bust. So this amount of ease in the Under Bust with this Empire Line level and the pleat in the back is the perfect amount for me to be able to get these dresses over my Upper Bust.
00;26;42;14 – 00;26;59;22
Sometimes I do need to do a bit of a shimmy, especially the ones that are with the really stable or stiff fabrics like the heavyweight cotton. But the shimmy is easier than doing up zips for me. Now the ease actually isn’t really that obvious from the front and the back, it’s more obvious in profile and how many people look at you side on?
00;26;59;26 – 00;27;15;25
So this only works for you if you have a really small upper basket and small shoulders compared to your bust. And your bust is not that large. I suppose it would work best if you have a C to D pattern making bust cup. Now of course, zips and buttons are not only for getting into the garment, they are also for adding interest in the design.
00;27;16;02 – 00;27;33;29
But if I want buttons as a design element, I’ll add ease. That is, design dresses with a much looser fit in the bust. So the buttons don’t pop – when I use a handbag – or I don’t want to worry about checking my buttons all the time. So for example, if I want buttons as a design element, this is a more suitable design for me.
00;27;34;13 – 00;27;56;03
Now of course the other option is to use elastic so you could eliminate the darts completely in the Empire Line and leave it as fullness, which is then gathered by elastic. This way it does return to the chest wall and give you that very close fit without darts and you can pull it on without zips or buttons. Of course you do need to check that the final Empire line measurement is sufficient to get you over.
00;27;56;21 – 00;28;13;18
Get it over your shoulders and upper bust. I do actually have buttons to the Empire Line in this dress, but they are for design. I mean, they’re actually real buttons, not dummy button holes, but I don’t need to undo them to get the dress on off. But – big BUT. This dress has a lot more ease in the bust and the Upper Bust than the previous one.
00;28;13;27 – 00;28;35;16
So there’s more ease there. The buttons don’t pop. So if I want a closer fit in the Under Bust, I could do this. But I have to say, well, firstly, I’m not terribly comfortable with how pronounced my breasts seem when I’m wearing this dress. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of elastic. I seem to have a lot of dislikes, lots of sensory issues, to be honest.
00;28;35;16 – 00;28;52;29
So many of them. I don’t like the feeling that elasticised feeling against my body and even with elastic in a casing, it’s that feeling I don’t like it, that elastic pulling. And if I’m going to have it loose enough that I don’t feel the pulling of that elastic, well, I might as well make those dresses I’ve just shown you, with more ease in the Under Bust.
00;28;53;21 – 00;29;13;20
But if you have larger shoulder, larger upper bust, and you don’t want it low buttons, then this is the your only option to be able to get the dress over your head and upper bust. This is where we left off. So from here I’m going to draw the neckline that I want. Then do the contouring for lower necklines and cutaway armholes, then manipulate the darts and create the princess lines.
00;29;13;29 – 00;29;34;20
First the shoulder, then the armhole princess line. Now the shape of the neckline. the design that I’m going to use, is a neckline depth of 14 cms or 5 and a 1/2 inches. At the shoulder I’ll come out from the neck for 6 cms or 2 and 3/8 of an inch, nd the strap starts from there. The strap is five cms or 2 inches wide.
00;29;35;00 – 00;29;58;22
The depth of the neckline, the width of the strap is of course a matter of preference and a matter of what suits you. What suits me doesn’t necessarily suit Kate, but I’ll do the same for Kate so that when I want to compare the pattern pieces, I’m comparing apples to apples. So for you, you might want a different neckline depth, a different strap width and starting the strap further in towards the neck or further out towards the shoulder.
00;30;00;00 – 00;30;22;04
The reason that I go out 6 cms or 2 and 3/8 of an inch from the neck and stop the strap from out there rather than say, moving out only an inch or so is because of my body shape. Because of my wide hips and narrow shoulders. a neckline that’s out towards the shoulder rather than starting near the neck suits me better, particularly with a narrow strap.
00;30;22;28 – 00;30;45;14
So you need to think about what suit you. To use another example, Didi – and I’m not drafting the pattern for Didi, I’m doing it for Kate, who has a Standard Figure – but I’m just using Didi as an example, that is opposite to my figure. For Didi coming in – or going out, should I say – from the neck, say only an inch rather than 2 inches or more, might suit her better because it will make her shoulders seem narrower.
00;30;45;22 – 00;31;05;12
She might also prefer a strap that’s a little wider. It’s about trying to draw the eye away from the problems and give an illusion of balance. In my bodice, I’m trying to make the shoulders look wider to match my hips. For Didi, it’s trying to make her shoulders look more like her hips. So here is the opposite – bit more exaggerated.
00;31;05;12 – 00;31;27;00
So it’s a bit more obvious. You can see that the straps way out to the shoulder on Didi makes her shoulders look really wide. The thing is, on Deedee, it might be kind of a nice look, but the opposite on me. Bringing the shoulder edge of the strap closer to my neck really does not work. It makes my hips seem so much wider and exaggerates the triangular effect and gives a very frumpy look.
00;31;27;15 – 00;31;49;13
And it’s more obvious when they’re side by side. Whereas Didi could get away with either one if she wants to deemphasize her shoulders than the one on the left is better. So take these things into consideration when you’re drafting for your body. So I’m using these measurements because they suit me and I’m making the same style for Kate and I’ll just cover that neckline depth as well.
00;31;50;29 – 00;32;11;09
Most of the dresses I have been showing, and especially the ones in the slide show, have that 14 cm or 5 and a 1/2 inch neckline depth like the dress on the left. The dress in the middle here has a neckline one inch lower than the one on the left. And the one on the right is another inch lower than the one in the middle.
00;32;11;18 – 00;32;29;06
I was experimenting with the best neckline depth for me with a crossover bodice when I was going lower and lower and I’ll cover that when I get to the crossover bodice, that 14 cm depth, the one I’m drafting is the safest depth as it’s well above my bust line. But I have to say, if I’m doing the crossover style, I prefer it a bit lower.
00;32;30;05 – 00;32;48;12
So that neckline that I’ve been showing you is a bit curved. It’s not a straight line from the shoulder to the neck. Again, this is a matter of preference, but completely straight lines in the V tend to look curved in a little when on the body. Most of the dresses I’ve shown you have the curve that I’ll run through. First, draw the straight line to help draw the curve.
00;32;48;17 – 00;33;11;19
Then at the midway point of that straight line, measure in at right angles to that straight line for 1 and a 1/2 cms or 5/8 of an inch, and then use a French curve to draw the slightly curved neckline. For the armhole, again a French curve. You may not be able to draw the curve in one go. You may need to make two passes and blend them. For comparison if you want a more rounded look.
00;33;11;19 – 00;33;31;09
These dresses have a curve that goes in about an inch or 2 and a 1/2 cms. So they are looking more round than V-neck. But if you look at the dashed purple lines that show the final shape of the neckline with the whole neckline, not just the 1/2, it’s still really a V-neck, because if it was a round neck, it would be more flat at the center front.
00;33;31;24 – 00;33;57;26
But if you want a more gentle curve like this, then go in 1 inch at the midpoint. So now we need to draw the back neckline and armhole, but before doing so we will redraw the back shoulder line. We can eliminate the back shoulder dart. Since we have a narrow strip, we really don’t need that dart. The dart is needed to get a good fit over your back and neck, but when you start lowering the back neckline and reducing the shoulder width then you just don’t need it. The back darts will be erased,
00;33;57;26 – 00;34;16;17
I’ve left them in there just for the instructions coming up and once you’ve drawn the shoulder line, you can erase them. So draw a line from the back neck point following the line from the neck to the first dart leg, then continuing that line, it will start to break away from the line on your pattern after the second dart leg.
00;34;16;25 – 00;34;45;19
So continue it past the current shoulder point. We don’t need it an exact length. Just take it past the current shoulder point. To use the front block to help you draw the back neck curve and the back armhole curve, fold the bodice front along the shoulder line, then match it up with a bodice back at the shoulder line using that new back shoulder line you just drew shown here in black matching at the back neck point first, then lining up the shoulders on the new line.
00;34;45;24 – 00;35;04;06
You might find that you will need to redraw or finesse the front neck line and or armhole so that you get a good flow through curve to the back. The depth of the back neck line will depend partly on what you want, but it will also depend on the front. You can’t have it too low. If you have a low front and back, it will fall off
00;35;04;06 – 00;35;21;25
your shouders. I’ve lowered the back neck line 6 cms – that’s 2 and 3/8 of an inch. That’s about 1/2 of what lowered the front. As I said, you may need to finesse the front armhole and or the neckline to get a good flow through. I had to change Kate’s front armhole line. The dashed black line is what I had before.
00;35;21;25 – 00;35;37;09
The green one is the one that’s being changed to suit the flow through for the back. I had to finesse my old neckline on the right. The dashed black line is what I had before. The purple one is the one that has been redrawn so that there is a good flow-through from front to back. I’m not having a V-neck in the back.
00;35;37;12 – 00;35;55;13
Though you may want a V. As the back has rounded neckline for me, I’m making sure that the center back is at right angles for a couple of cms or 3/4 of an inch before the curves starts. This is the shape of the pattern so far. To the left for Kate, the green outline, and to the right mine is the purple outline.
00;35;55;13 – 00;36;15;22
And so I’m going to cut these shapes out before starting the contouring. But before I do that, I want to mention two things. Now, the back pattern piece might look like you’ve cut a lot of the back shoulder length compared to the front, but that extra length was the dart we removed, so don’t worry about that. The second thing, before you cut out the shape of the back, I want to mention a design element that I add to most of my dresses.
00;36;16;01 – 00;36;41;24
Most of my dresses have this 2 cm pleat added in the center back, as indicated on the dress, and is now added to my pattern at the Center Back. That’s added to this 1/2 block. so it’s a 4 cm pleat in total. I cut the back on the fold and sew as a box pleat. From the top, I sew it down to just above the mid armhole level and at the skirt I sew it up for about 3 cms or 2 and 3/8 inches.
00;36;41;25 – 00;37;00;05
Now the reason that I started doing this is that I put on weight. Before I started these particular dresses, I put on about ten kilograms of weight, that’s about 22 pounds, due to the high doses of corticosteroid medication I was on. Now the thing is, I have been on this high a dose of the medication about three or four times in the last 15 years.
00;37;00;05 – 00;37;27;04
And each time I put on 10 kilograms, 22 pounds, but I had always lost it in the months after stopping the medication. So I was expecting to lose that weight and I have lost 1/2 of it. It’s just a bit harder. The older you get, the harder it is. But I will lose that weight. But I didn’t want to make a larger block, didn’t want add a lot of ease to my block and a lot of ease to the dresses – wearing ease, because when I lost that weight, they would become really big.
00;37;27;04 – 00;37;51;00
So adding this pleat here meant that when I’m larger, when I haven’t lost the weight, that pleat is actually wearing ease but disguised as design ease. When I lose the weight then it is no longer needed for wearing ease and then it becomes purely design ease. So now it’s needed for comfort, not just design ease. Later, it’s not needed for comfort, it will just be design ease.
00;37;51;08 – 00;38;15;19
Having said that, it also helps me get the dresses over my head when the under bust measurement is so much smaller than my bust measurement. But I actually really like this and I’ll probably do it a lot in future. Now another thing that’s happened when I put on this weight, my winter coats – it’s currently winter – and so many of my winter coats and jackets that I’ve had for years don’t fit me at all or didn’t fit me at all during the time I was ten kilograms heavier.
00;38;15;20 – 00;38;35;06
So what I’ve decided is a good idea for me is to add this pleat in the center back on an ongoing basis to my dresses and jackets if they are fairly close fitting. So it doesn’t matter so much, of course, if they are oversize garments, but if they’re a close fitting garment, if I add this in when I’m a lower weight, the pleat is purely design ease and isn’t needed,
00;38;35;15 – 00;38;53;29
but if I put on weight, then it acts as wearing ease and with it , I’ll be able to wear the the garment comfortably. So I’m going to include the pleat for me, but not for Kate. This will the only difference between our patterns. I’ve taken out all the ease in the under bust for Kate, so Kate definitely needs either a zip or buttons to get this on.
00;38;54;06 – 00;39;09;01
And I think with no ease under the bust , buttons are not a good idea. She could have a zip in the side seam, but I’m assuming she doesn’t want or need that pleat and I’m just going to put a zip in the back for her. So the reason I used a 4 cm pleat – that’s one and a 1/2 inches, – and that’s total in the 1/2 block.
00;39;09;01 – 00;39;31;13
it’s 2 cms or 3/4 of an inch, it’s because that’s how much my bust measurement increased when I put on weight, Before I cut my shape out, I’ll draw a line to the mid neck to mark my gape dart placement. So now on to the contouring. I have accentuated the contour markings. I will not show the back block for a while and I’ll make the front ones larger so it’s easier to see.
00;39;32;11 – 00;39;51;14
For Kate’s block, the standard contour markings are traced from the block and therefore, when drawing in the design line, it shows how much gaping occurs at that design line. So the green shapes show the width of the gate that’s needed for Kate. I still need to redraw the lines from the bust point to each side of those gape darts. For my block,
00;39;51;14 – 00;40;08;15
I know from experience that in the armhole I need a gape dart of 1.25 cms or 1/2 an inch and in the neck line at that depth I need a gape board of 1 cm or 2/8 of an inch, or sorry, 3/8 of an inch. So I’ve got that on my block and drawn straight lines from the bust point to each side of the gape darts.
00;40;08;15 – 00;40;27;16
As I said, that’s still what I need to do for Kate’s pattern. So I’ve the original contour lines on Kate’s pattern and just drawn two lines from the bust point to the edges of both of the gape darts. So I’m going to cut along one leg of each gape dart up to, but stopping a little short of the bust point, leaving a hinge.
00;40;27;16 – 00;40;48;14
I will cut the left dart legs and close the dart in a clockwise direction to the right leg. It doesn’t really matter whether it goes into the waist or the side seam dart, but I’m going to put it in the side seam dart. And I’m going to cut the top side seam dart leg. So I will cut the three lines as shown, leaving a small hinge at the bust point for each of them.
00;40;48;28 – 00;41;08;08
So you need to make sure nothing moves other than what you are moving yourself. I have two loose pieces and I’ve colored them yellow and orange. I’m going to pivot the yellow section to close the armhole gape dart. I’m going to turn on the bust point until it reaches the black line of the second leg. So, as I said, making sure nothing else moves.
00;41;08;08 – 00;41;26;13
I’m going to be covering part of the orange shaded shape with the yellow shape as I close that dart. So the first start in the armhole is closed and taped down with sticky tape. The side seam dart has opened up a little as the value of that gape dart that was closed is now being moved into the side seam dart.
00;41;26;13 – 00;41;47;12
The yellow and orange sections of the pattern are now stuck together and I’ll be moving them as one piece when I pivot them on the bust point in a clockwise direction to close the gape dart in the neck, which is then taped down. The side seam dart has opened up more and the black dashed lines show what the value of the modified side seam dart has increased to.
00;41;47;26 – 00;42;07;24
I have drawn those new side seam legs out past the perimeter of the block to make sure you can see them. We need to put some paper underneath to fill in the gap that’s opened up and tape it down. But before we start taping it down, we can actually cut off the original dart that will be distracting and it’s easier to cut it out and discarded.
00;42;08;06 – 00;42;28;01
We can then type down both dart legs onto the pipe underneath and draw a straight line from one leg to the other and cut off the excess paper. We’ll also need to redraw the armhole curve and the neckline curve because closing the darts resulted in some jagged lines. You may need to put some paper underneath when you reach all those curves.
00;42;28;13 – 00;43;00;22
So smooth out the armhole in the neckline, adding a little and taking off a little as you need to draw a nice curve. What you’ve ended up with will be a bit messy, so it might be best to keep the Master and trace off two copies for The Shoulder Princess and the Armhole Princess. It’s a good time to to double check the flow through of the neckline and the armhole curves since we change those curves slightly when correcting the jagged lines. After checking the armhole curve when matching up at the underarm, it’s also a good idea to double check that the side seam lengths match when adjoining seams don’t match.
00;43;00;23 – 00;43;18;26
You split the difference, you add 1/2 the difference to one side and subtract 1/2 of the difference from the other. So I’m going to start drafting the shoulder Princess Line and starting with the bodice back. Mark the mid shoulder point and draw a curved path through the waist dart point. You may not be able to draw the curve in one path.
00;43;18;27 – 00;43;38;27
You may have to move the French curve and draw a second curve and blend the two. We will be cutting along that line and discarding the dart value. But before we do that, we want to place some notches to help with matching that seam up for sewing. So mark the notches on both pattern pieces; one notch at the top of the dart and one somewhere up near the shoulder.
00;43;38;28 – 00;43;57;02
Then you cut along the line and separate it into 2 pattern pieces. So I’m going to label those pieces. We’ve got the bodice back and the bodice side back. I’m not going to add seam allowance or mark in the grainline or finish them off yet. I’ll do that in the later videos after we have all the pattern pieces for the dress that includes a skirt and finishes such as facing or lining.
00;43;58;06 – 00;44;18;02
Moving on to the front princess line. Draw a line from the mid-shoulder point through the bust point and down one of the legs. It doesn’t matter which one. Again, before we cut along that line and remove the dart value, we need to add notches. One at the bust point on both pieces, one 2 and 1/2 cms or 1 inch above the bust point on both pieces,
00;44;18;12 – 00;44;35;04
And one, 2 and 1/2 cms or 1 inch below the bust point. But note that only on the center front piece. If you want, you can add one up near the shoulder to help align the pattern pieces when you are sewing. So cut along the line, separating it into two pattern pieces, then cut off that drop value and discarded.
00;44;35;10 – 00;44;56;01
awe’ll concentrate now on the side piece. Cut out the side seam dart, so cut along both legs and remove the wedge, leaving a little hinge at the bust point. Close the gap so that the dart lines are on top of each other and secure it with sticky tape. Now if you have a sharp tip at the bust point, remove that by drawing a smooth curve.
00;44;56;01 – 00;45;12;24
The larger the bus, the more likely you have a pointy tip there and the more you will probably have to remove to smooth that out. The result will be that this seam will be shorter than the adjoining seam on the center front because we cut a bit off. So we need to check those lengths against each other and make the necessary adjustment.
00;45;13;06 – 00;45;29;10
So we’ll walk that side pattern piece against the center front and see how much length we’ve lost by cutting off the pointy bit and then make an adjustment to regain that length. I’ll place the pieces together at the shoulder, then walk them down. Check the first notches. Neat for me. They don’t. So I will erase the bust point
00;45;29;11 – 00;45;56;26
notch on the side seam piece. Keep walking the seam. I will move my bust point notch. Then keep walking and mark the third notch on the side pattern, again keep walking. And then when you reach the end you’ll see how much shorter the side pattern piece is compared to the center front piece. So I can extend the length of the bodice side pattern down to match the front and draw a line to blend at the waist side seam as shown by the black dashed lines.
00;45;57;00 – 00;46;21;25
So what is added to that pattern piece is the shaded area, so increasing the length of the one that we cut some off to make it match the center front. So I want to mention this. For those who may have seen this done another way, it is the way I initially learned from the Joseph Armstrong textbook. So graphic A is the original pattern before the pointy bit is cut off. In graphic B, you cut down middle from the bust point and spread it at the bust point.
00;46;22;03 – 00;46;40;26
I’ve shaded the bottom piece yellow and you can see how I’ve spread it to add some length at the bust point. In graphic C, I show with the green shading what is added using these instructions not only is the seam length extended and it is extended, but there is also width added to the bodice above and below the bust point.
00;46;40;26 – 00;47;00;26
I don’t like adding that extra ease, so I just add length to the seam and I’ve seen other patternmakers do the same. So these are the pattern pieces after the adjustment has been made and these are the final clean pattern pieces. I’ve labeled them with the name of the person and the name of the pattern piece. I also want to mention the angled seam line on the bodice side
00;47;00;26 – 00;47;22;13
pattern piece. The blue line shows the angle of that seam line for Kate and the pink line shows the angle of that seam line for me. And in the middle you can see a comparison. If I’m placing these pattern pieces as per the grainline shown here. So the black arrow is placed on the straight of grain, then the red box and the red line shows where the bias grain is on the fabric and therefore on the pattern.
00;47;22;19 – 00;47;46;11
And the bias grain is the grainline that has the most stretch. For Kate, the angle is not exactly on the bias, but for me it is exactly on the bias. That means in my case, the seam line will stretch a bit more than Kate’s seam line. So if your ends up the same as mine, if you have a similar bust cup, when you’re sewing it might seem that this side is longer than the other, but that’s because of the bias stretch.
00;47;46;11 – 00;48;03;17
You just need to ease it in to the adjoining pattern piece. And the notch near the top is useful, just to make sure that you realize that if there’s any excess, it is due to stretch and you just ease it in. That angle works out really well for me with vertically striped fabrics, especially when placed on the straight of grain.
00;48;03;24 – 00;48;20;14
In my opinion. I think it works better for me than for Kate. Now this is showing you how the pattern would look with fabric that has vertical stripes. So stripes along the grainline and the side pattern piece is cut on the straight of grain. Look at where the stripes meet on the adjoining seam, and there is more contrast for me than for Kate.
00;48;20;14 – 00;48;39;21
I think a much more interesting effect. Here’s a comparison. placing the side pattern piece on cross grain this time, and again, I think the effect is more striking in my case. This third example has the side piece placed one way on the bias. Kate’s is looking better than in the previous slides, but I still think I get a better effect.
00;48;39;21 – 00;49;05;06
And the last example, still on the bias but placed the other way. The second option on the bias, even Kate, is getting more interesting effect, placing it on the bias than on the straight of grain. I can get the same effect by placing mine on the straight of grain, and that matters for saving fabric. Because if I’m doing the princess seam on the back and the front, it does take less fabric to place the pattern pieces on the straight of grain than it does placing them on the bias.
00;49;05;16 – 00;49;22;14
The shoulder princess line is not only good for stripes, but fabric that has some kind of repetitive pattern with a suggestion of lines, if not exactly lines. And note that you don’t have to have shoulder princess on the back just because you have it on the front. But I like the consistency and I like the interesting effects that I can get.
00;49;22;24 – 00;49;38;24
I noticed in one of my patternmaking textbook it said something like “The shoulder Princess Line is good when it’s in fashion”. I’m sorry, I don’t take that to heart. I’ll use it if I like it, whether it’s in fashion or not. Having said that, if your fabric has a busy print, you may not even notice the princess seam,
00;49;38;24 – 00;50;02;20
if you are wanting to hide the fact that you’re using it, I still use it not only for the visual effects with stripes, but because I prefer it to darts and the shoulder princess line is a lot easier to sew than the armhole princess line. It’s more noticeable, of course, on plain fabric without a print. The downside to having the seam on the bias is that I do get some bias stretch happening here which is only really noticeable close up.
00;50;02;20 – 00;50;23;18
So here the final pattern pieces for Kate and for me. And here’s a comparison of our pattern pieces. Of course, I’ve got the pleat in the center back, but aside from that, my body’s just completely different to Kate. But the one that’s the most different is the side front piece. I think the angle that I get is not only to do with my large bust cup, but it also has to do with my square shoulders.
00;50;23;23 – 00;50;42;28
So the angle will be different for everybody, depending on how square their shoulders are and how big their bust cup is. My center front piece is angled in more at the shoulder and that’s because my gape dart was larger. So the larger your gape darts are in your neckline, the more that will come inwards. So that’s the shoulder princess line.
00;50;42;28 – 00;51;00;05
You’ll need a fresh copy of the pattern that earlier I suggested you keep a copy of. This is after the gape darts had been moved to the side seam dart and the flow through curves are checked. The side seam length was checked and the neckline was drawn. I’m going to start with the back again. Where the Princess Line is drawn is to some extent a matter of taste.
00;51;00;05 – 00;51;19;09
But I think about the 1/2 way point of the armhole works here for both Kate and for me. I’m going to add my pleat in the center back before I start the princess line. So that’s 2 cms, 3/4 of an inch pleat. So you draw a curve from about the 1/2 way point of the armhole down through the waist dart point and down to the Empire Line.
00;51;19;13 – 00;51;44;13
You probably won’t get that curve in one place with your French curve. You’ll have to finesse it. Draw two curves and blend. Again, before you cut along that design line and discard the dart value, you need to place notches. On the back, one notch at the dart point and one up somewhere closer to the armhole is sufficient. The front needs more notches, because of the curve that’s more pronounced and the opposing curves that end up on the adjoining pattern pieces. Here on the back,
00;51;44;13 – 00;52;04;05
it’s not that much of an issue. So after placing the notches, you can cut along that curve, separating it into two pieces, which means also cutting away the dart value. Label the pattern pieces. And onto the front. For the front, about one third of the way up the armhole or with armhole starts to curve under, which is generally at the sleeve notch.
00;52;04;05 – 00;52;23;29
But since this is a sleeveless block, we don’t have a sleeve notch. So approximately one third of the way out now again for cutting. Don’t forget to notch. So the same as for the shoulder princess line we want three notches; one notch at the bust point. one notch 2 and a 1/2 cms or 1 inch above. and one 2 and a 1/2 cms or one inch below.
00;52;24;02 – 00;52;42;12
But that third notch below, just place it onto the Center Front seam. When we walk the side piece after we’ve closed the dart, we’ll then place that third notch on the side piece.Because if we placed it now, we would have to move it anyway, o there’s no point placing it until we actually get there. Now, my armhole curve doesn’t actually look like a curve at all, does it?
00;52;42;12 – 00;53;04;27
It looks quite straight. If you get the same thing happening, don’t worry about it. It’s because the dart manipulation hasn’t been done yet. You can see here on this dress the Princess Line will end up very curved. So cut along the line, separating the front into two pieces, and then we’ll concentrate on the side piece, cut out the dart value, so cut along both legs, leaving a little hinge at the bustpoint.
00;53;05;02 – 00;53;21;22
You can just cut one leg and then close it, but then you’ve got to cut the bit underneath. So I find it better just to cut it out. So this is what we end up with with a pointy bit at the bust point, as we did with the shoulder princess line. We need to smooth out that curve. You’ll need to cut off some of that pointy bit.
00;53;21;22 – 00;53;40;11
But first, make sure you tape those two pieces down with sticky tape. The black dashed line shows how I’ve redrawn that curve. So comparing the top angle of that side piece in relation to the bias, you can see that Kate is more on the bias from the bust point up. Mine is only on the bias between the top two notches.
00;53;40;14 – 00;54;02;20
Now, in order to regain the length that we’ve lost, we need to walk the side piece against the center front like we did with the Shoulder Princess. You may need to turn the side piece a lot more times thanI am showing you – by that I mean in smaller increments so that you are matching the seams closely. If those notches don’t match, change the one on the side piece and keep walking.
00;54;03;03 – 00;54;28;25
Check to see how much of an adjustment is needed and add the necessary amount down the bottom. So here are the final pieces and here are some clean copies. We’ll do all the checking of the adjoining angles of the pattern at the very end, when we have all the pattern pieces. So I mean the skirt and the lining, etc. Here is a comparison of Kate’s final armhole princess line and my final armhole princess line.
00;54;29;07 – 00;54;47;21
Note that our side pieces aren’t that different. The front pieces are the ones that are more different. Now II was supposed to include the cross over bodice, but I did leave a note on an earlier slide saying I will have to do the cross over as a separate ten minute video that I would do in between the other videos in the series. t
00;54;47;21 – 00;55;05;02
Because this video is heading for one hour already, and if I don’t get it up today, it’s not going to get out for quite a few days now. I’m running very behind with my videos, so various reasons, but I am thinking of doing them slightly out of order. If I do, it will be the skirt video next and the video on ease after that.
00;55;05;02 – 00;55;13;20
If so, I will leave the numbers the same, just publish them in a different order. So chao for me for now.