One of my sewing school members was working on her dance leotard with a sweetheart neckline when she ran into minor problems sewing princess seams.
I want to share this Sew Like A Pro™ Q&A excerpt with you featuring Elif’s new dress. Her sweetheart neckline, although beautiful and feminine, is one of the most difficult neckline shapes to fit because you have to fit flat fabric onto many breast and armpit curves.
Looking at this leotard will give you solid tips on how to sew princess seams to help create a perfectly fitted sweetheart neckline on your ballroom dance, country dance, artistic roller skating or ice skating costume.
But before I show you the dress-in-progress, I want to share with you the finished Dancesport Standard ballgown so you can envision that as you look at the fitting photos below. This was her first ballgown she ever made. No joke. The dress actually fits her much better because the dress form is a little smaller than Elif’s measurements.
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What is the problem with Elif's sweetheart neckline leotard?
When you look at photos of Elif’s leotard, you notice the little ‘batwings’ of fabric that stick out on the sides of the dress.
The sweetheart neckline doesn’t hug the dress form like it is supposed to because the fabric is too loose. This is a common problem with sweetheart necklines on dance skate leotards.
Here are the two main ways I teach my sewing school members to fix this problem:
1. Add a horizontal bust dart.
One option is for Elif to add a 1” or 25 mm horizontal bust dart connecting the two bust apexes.
Adding a horizontal bust dart will pull the top of the princess seams in and down towards her sternum so the leotard fits closer to the body. However, because there is a lot to take in on this particular dance skate leotard, adding a horizontal dart will not solve the entire problem.
Lastly on the horizontal bust dart, the area between the breasts fits very well and is not the main problem. Therefore, why should we add another seam when one is not needed?
2. Take in all the excess at the upper portion of the princess seams.
This is definitely my preferred choice.
Take in a little from the center front panel, and most of it from the side panel of the dance skate leotard.
In the video, I tell Elif how much she should take in for her specific leotard.
Sewing princess seams on your dance skate leotard will need different amounts. Take in just enough to make it fit well, but not be so tight that the seams push the breast tissue flat.
Sew Like A Pro™ Dressmaker Tip #1
Are your breasts different sizes? Does the leotard fit differently on the right and left halves? If yes, take in each side different amounts.
When making custom dresses, you want to take in exactly what is needed to make the leotard look and fit as well as possible. When the human body is asymmetrical (which most are), why take in the same amounts on both sides of the leotard? Only take in the seams what is needed to fit the body, even if the seams of the leotard are not the same on both sides.
P.S. Are you confused by some of the American sewing terms I use? Check out the GLOBAL SEWING TERMS blog post for clarification.
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How To Finish The Sweetheart Neckline:
I suggest Elif lower the curve of the sweetheart neckline. In the image below, you can see the blue lines where I indicated how much she should lower it. Elif should cut away at least 1in or 25 cm at the highest curves. She should also cut off the extra fabric ‘batwings’ at the back armhole so the flesh color mesh she plans to add will fit better.
Take a look at the two sweetheart necklines in the image below. The red dress I made. This is Andrea. She modeled the making of this dress for the Sew Like A Pro™ Complete+ Program for Latin, Skate and Gowns.
This neckline fits her curves beautifully. She looks mature and sophisticated with everything fitting perfectly. This is what I teach in my sewing school.
The black ice skating costume with a sweetheart neckline was a used dress Melissa bought for only $100. As you can see in this comparison photo, the neckline on the black figure skating costume fits poorly: it is too high and too loose making this lovely dress look childish on her womanly body.
The alterations needed to make Melissa's dress fit better are similar to what Elif’s leotard needs. Check out Melissa's blog for more sewing details.
Why should Elif and the ice skating costume lower the sweetheart neckline?
Reason #1: Lowering the neckline allows more space between the tip of the bust and the shoulder line. This distance makes larger-breasted women look higher-chested. Having "the girls" look high and perky is a slimming, youthful look.
Reason #2: Sweetheart necklines that are too high look childish, not womanly.
Reason #3: Sewing princess seams for a sweetheart neckline that ends just above the natural breast curve yields the best fit.
For more sweetheart neckline inspiration, you can read my ice skating costume blog post Sweetheart Neckline is Beautiful on Every Dress Style. You can also go to my sweetheart neckline Pinterest board.
Click here for information on how to become a sewing school member and get detailed training on how to make awesome Dancesport, Country and Skating leotards like Elif.
If you enjoyed this Q&A excerpt, check out another Q&A excerpt on how to use sequin fabric as appliqués on a dance or skate costume.
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Thanks sew much,