2009-03-124 Burda Armhole Princess Seam

After giving myself over night to think,  I realized my biggest worry was the neckline.  Usually Burda necklines are too plunging for me and #124 was no different.  But I think it is also too wide for me. I extend the shoulders towards the neck to about an inch. Not sure this is really needed, so  I just chalk the neckline changes  on the fabric and promise to fix the pattern permanently if this turns out to be the right choice.

Chalking and cutting the back :


Repeat on front.

Another still troubling thought:  total ease.  If Burda sizing is right, I’m going to have way too much ease.   I have added wider side seam allowances and am using a knit fabric.  Troubling here are the numbers I filled-in on Brad’s Chart. According to those numbers, the pattern could be too small. I decide to do nothing at this point. To trust Burda and the fit insurance I’ve added; AND to be ready to change things as needed.

Burda adds very few notches, dots or other notations on their patterns.    One marking that Burda  consistently makes and which I really appreciate is the waist level . That’s how I measured and determined I needed the 1″ BWL.   I really missed the  princess seam match notches usually found on all other patterns.  I like those notches telling me I’m spot on. I tried to get by through by resting the fabric on my cutting board while  carefully matching raw edges and pinning frequently .    I serged the CB at 1/4″. I added 1/2″ SA but I’m finding that I need an additional 1/4″ ease across the back as well as the 5/8″ length added through the RBA.  Oh and the hip certainly doesn’t object to a little more wiggle room. Besides if I don’t need that extra ease, it will be simple to stitch the seam at 1/2″. I basted the rest of the seams together using WST in the bobbin.  I basted the shoulders and  princess seams at 1/4″;  side seams at 1/2″.   Still, I felt uncomfortable; unsure. Would I have enough ease? Even using a knit fabric?

The first fitting mostl reassured me about all those changes and decisions I made.  I had plenty of ease and length.  The shoulders were a little wide and the neckline a little close (both fixable) and there was too much fabric flopping around at the top of my princess seams (as  expected).   Then I lifted my arm and discovered that the armscye was entirely too low. It barely covered my bra  by a scant 1/4″.  Was that intentional?  Was that part of the dressy/black tie look Burda was pitching?

I grabbed my tape measure and checked length from shoulder to BP

(PS Above is not the correct way to measure.)


I was surprised to find the blouse measured 11″.  I’m 10″.  Most people are 10″ or thereabouts.  Burda chose 11″ which I think says  that the armscyes  are low because they are drafted for a body longer through the upper bodice vice an armscye drafted for an evening look. I opted to stitch the shoulder seams at 1″. Noting how roomy this blouse is, I also stitched the  side seams with 3/4″ seam allowances. WOW good choice:

I’m almost there, fit wise. If only I’d  noted that the shoulder-to-bust measured 11″; I could have avoided a whole fitting!

Preping for the 3rd fitting I  tweaked the princess seams.  Relying on my CC0456 experience, I increased the princess seam SA between armscy and mid-point by   3/8″ in front and 1/2″ in back. I took pics and ran upstairs to see the effects of this change. At  the computer and I just couldn’t see. The bright colors practically blinded me.  I converted the full-color photos to Sepia and then drew lines. Well actually, I hunted for shadows and drew blue lines wherever I could find a shadow. I this think this 3rd fitting is pretty good .

Still too long between shoulder and waist, as if the BWL needed to be 1.5″ instead of 1″.  I also note that the right side (the side of my lower shoulder)

has some gaping (pink arrow) whereas, the left is near perfect.  I went back down stairs and stitched the right shoulder 1/4″ deeper. I also let the side seams out between tummy and hip 1/4″. Dang! if that wasn’t the right answer.  I finished the garment.   Final fitting:

If you look closely, the right side is still a little droopy. I think the right side princess seams may need to be stitched deeper still.


I did not stretch the neckline FOE enough. When finished it gaped.  I did Peggy’s trick and stitched a little dart at CF just through the FOE turning it into a V-neckline that hugged my neck.

Not having stretched the neckline enough, naturally, I stretched the armscyes too much.

They were not this high before adding the FOE. I’ll probably have to cut  and reapply the armscye FOE. I’m waiting for my first full wearing to decide. Also did you note, that I have cap sleeves?

I was going to trim the shoulder length but I’ve been admiring the extended shoulder of Loes Hines Cap Sleeve T and decided to keep this as it is.

I was curious about this fabric described as “crepe knit”.  I don’t believe I’ve heard the term before and I’m certain I have not sewn with it.  I spray starched and pressed before cutting. Crepe can get very crawly but this wasn’t bad at all. It is light weight, and drapes beautifully like my rayon challis.  It behaved at the sewing machine as well. I did need to weave the pins through taking 2 bites instead of one or some of the pins would fall free. I don’t consider that a problem until all the pins drop away leaving me with a pile of fabric to align while stitching.While I understand some of you are really sensitive to poly, I’ve decided to add crepe knit to my list of buy-worth fabrics.

Pattern Alterations

  1. Shorten dress pattern to blouse length ( – 12″)
  2. BWL 1″  Revised 1.5″
  3. Added Upper chest 1/2″ tuck (Total 2″ removed above the waist)
  4. Added  Redrafting and Truing armscyes
  5. Raise neckline 3″
  6. RBA 5/8-removing back darts
  7. Seam Allowances
    1. Revised 1/4″ CB 1/4″ added ease (total 1/2″ added CB)
    2. Shoulder seams 1/4″
      1. Sew Right shoulder SA 1/2″
    3. 1″ Side Seam fit insurance Revised
      1. add 1/2″ from underarm to waist
      2. add 3/4″ from waist to hem
    4. 1/4″ everywhere else.
  8. Princess Pinches
    1. Trim from pattern
      1. 3/8″  Front
      2. 1/2″ Back
    2. Stitch Right Princess seams 1/8″ deeper

Lots of changes. Some because I’m not ignoring the  right side differences caused by my lower shoulder but am listing them as separate changes .

During the tissue stage, I measured the pattern circumferences and the back waist length.  I need to add checking shoulder to bust length at the tissue stage.  This isn’t the first time I’ve worked with a pattern with an 11″ upper bodice measurement, but it is  not common. Still I’d rather avoid the problem in the future especially since it is a quick measure and then tuck of the pattern pieces.

Before I call #124 a TNT, I need to make a second version.  I need to verify the last batch of tissue alterations. I also still have an issue with the upper bodice length. I haven’t made the tissue alteration.  I don’t want to cut length off at the top  of the shoulder. That will make the shoulder wider and  will require several armscye alterations. The armscye length is usually about 1/4-1/3 curve. Making up the remaining 2/3-3/4 total length is the  straight line joining curve to shoulder. If I change the length at or just under the shoulder, the curve part of the armscye will form about 2/3-3/4 of the length — just the opposite of standard.  If I make the change further down, I must change all 4 pieces across 2 curves (armscye and princess)  and still redraw the entire armscye. Right now, I don’t have an elegant fix.

Despite those 2 issues with this pattern ,I feel comfortable saying  that the armhole princess is a good fitting choice for  me.  I’ll be pursuing more armhole-princess styles and also looking for yokes or horizontal seam lines in the upper 1/4-1/3 of any bodice. Sure, I’d like to make a classic T (front, back sleeve). The reality is I can’t get a good fit that way.  I need s-e-a-m-s. Some kind of princess style is going to be my new T shape.


Armscye Princess 2009-03-124

Revised 6/7/2017

After easily fitting  3 princess-seam patterns, I’m feeling confident that I’m on the right road to fit.  The armscye princess of CC0546 was easier to fit than the shoulder princess of the Tabula Rasa patterns. So much so, that I want to explore this style further. I’ve avoided the armhole princess ever since seeing a picture of  18-year old me looking  gangly, frumpy instead of the sophisticated alluring mental image I held in my mind.  So it was no surprise that I had few armhole princess patterns in my stash.  I turned to my collection of Burda Style magazines looking for

  • classic armscye princess
  • jewel neck
  • sleeveless
  • blouse

I selected dress Style 124, March 2009 because I thought it would be easier to change neckline style and garment length.

I checked my measurements against sizing and trace a size 46 with dress length of Style 124.  I did not trace the facings (5 and 6) because by the time I finish with alterations the facings won’t fit and will have to be redrafted. I trim the pattern 12″ because I want a blouse instead of a dress and after measuring the back, make a 1″ BWL on all 4 pattern pieces.  I measured across the hip, waist and bust estimating  2-3″ ease at each level. I examine  the sides  next. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to trim  the apex.  I’m round rather than pointy and my bust  circumference is pretty evenly distributed on the sides and back. Instead of guessing,  I decide to make that change at fitting.

One place Burda always bites me is their navel deep necklines. Burda is pitching this as a dressy/black tie garment. In those situations, someone might want a deep neckline. I’m wanting a basic pattern  for every day use.  I extend the CF line straight up about 12″. Then measure down from the shoulder point 6″ .  Placing my ruler horizontally across from there, I make a mark along the extended CF; then  get out my french curve and draw my a new front neckline.

No way around it now, I have to think through and decide about the back.  The back contains a neckline dart. Why?  Also, the CB is not a perpendicular line. I traced up so far and then had to reposition my ruler and finish tracing at a different angle. This is not a mistake. I can tell because while the front uses a perfectly upright CF as  SOG,  Burda has drawn a separate SOG on the back which clearly is not the same angle as the upper back. Why?  Neck dart + CB seam angled is reminiscent of an RBA (round back alteration) rotated to the neck. I considered using the back as drafted. Then I decided even if  an RBA is incorporated, there is no way to tell  if they used the right amount for me. So I slash across the back where it is angled,  and again along one leg of the dart almost all the way to the first slash.  I slip a piece of tissue beneath and separate the horizontal back slash by 5/8″. This  closes and overlaps the dart  another 1/4″. Like I said, not sure what Burda was intending and I’m very anxious about the decisions I’ve just made, but I tape it all down.

I finish by making sure all the pieces have a SOG, the seams walk and have the appropriate SA added (1/4″ for everything except CB (1/2″) and side seams (1″). With a sigh of relief, I trim any excess tissue. It’s good to have made all the pattern alteration decision.

The pattern  recommends  “lace fabrics with backing, silk fabrics with some body”. Not using those. Probably never using those with this pattern.  I look at my wovens in the 1+ yard stack but I’m feeling anxious.  That 2-3″ ease I mentioned before?  That’s not what I have written on Brad’s chart. The changes to the back, while logically correct,  fill me with forbidding. I just don’t know what Burda was doing so how can I know I made the right corrections? I need some kind of fail safe; some kind of recovery plan.  Even if this is a test garment and discarded, I want to work through  enough to produce a useable pattern for the future.  The Crepe Jersey Knit I chose is a recent purchase .  60″ wide.  96% Polyester and 4% Spandex. Navy, coral, pink and red splotches in a print  which is too bright for my comfort.   I think I was more interested in the ‘crepe jersey knit’ description then anything else. It will make a good muslin ie. if this bombs I won’t miss the fabric. The edges don’t curl badly. They do curl, just not badly. The fabric drapes beautifully. I don’t know. Maybe I can get used to it.

I lay out the fabric. Put the pattern pieces on top. Check grain and then step away for the evening.

Yeah, it’s another project with multiple posts.  I’m having to think this one through as I go.



Pattern Changes

  1. Shorten 12″
  2. BWL 1″
  3. Raise neckline 3″
  4. RBA 5/8-removing back darts
  5. Seam Allowances
  6. 1/2″ CB
  7. 1″ side seams
  8. 1/4″ everywhere else.