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How to Sew Princess Seam

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Do you know how to sew princess seam neatly? Princess seams flatter all body types and are classic lines for many garment designs. 

From fitted top to fit and flared dresses, princess seams are an important element to solve fit issues with help from a regular sewing machine. Other than darts, princess seams are an important element for the perfect fit on a garment.

How do you sew princess seam? Stay stitch ⅝” from the cut edge along the curved seam of the front piece, and clip only on the curved section. 

Place the back on the side back with right sides facing each other and straight stitch. Press the seam open or towards the center back and repeat on other side.

It’s essential to sew princess seam appropriately to achieve a fine and smooth seam in the front and back. If not, the princess seam can get puckered and wavy rather than flattering and smooth. 

Since these seams shape the feminine look in the bust area for comfortable and easy wear, it is imperative that extra care and attention be placed when sewing seams. 

In this article, you will learn the difference between darts and princess seam and how to sew and finish process seams properly. Follow these straightforward steps to get a professional look and even seams on both sides of the garment. 

How do princess seams fit?

Princess seams fit by checking if the actual bust apex is inline with the seam curve’s apex. When the two apexes do not line up, the seam fit and clothing wouldn’t look appealing when worn. 

A princess seam should be fit accurately or it can result in a poorly fit bodice garment. When they do not line up horizontally, the curve has to be lowered or raised accordingly to correct the fit.

If the cup is too small, puckering and bodice pulling down the apex line will happen. When the cup size is large, additional fabric is pooling at the apex point. 

Fix a princess seam when the top is very tight at the bust apex line. Just rip the princess seams at the bust apex point and pin a fabric scrap beneath. 

Draw a new line of a seam on the scrap fabric. Add in the measure of extension on either side of the line for the princess seam.

Princess Seams vs Darts

Princess seams and darts are sewn in the front portion and back section of a shirt, and extend to the arms from the waistline. 

Princess seams are different from darts as seams form a continuous line and are a full line of the seam. Darts are folds that are sewn into the garment to shape the garment.

However, princess seams and darts are identical in shaping. A princess seam originated by joining a fish-eye dart with a bust dart at the bust apex. 

From a pattern-making perspective, a princess seam gives you the advantage of how a garment hangs over the body with large or small cup sizes. 

Also, a princess seam offer grain lines balance at the center on the garment frontline and side panels to give shape.

However, with a plain darted frontline, you wouldn’t be able to do that. A bigger cup provides off-grain to be farther in a darted pattern than a pattern of a princess seam.

In addition, princess seams and darts are indicated with different symbols when learning to interpret and read sewing patterns

The princess seam has single or double notches to help you sew more easily with filled circle and straight lines. On the other hand, darts have dotted lines on the point and dotted lines on the dart leg where to fold and sew. 

How do you sew a princess seam step by step?

In order to sew a princess seam smoothly without puckering, and make it identical on both right and left side, here is easy step-by-step procedure to follow to achieve a perfect princess seam.

Always thread the machine and bobbin with correct thread and sewing needle depending on the fabric you are working with. By doing so you won’t cause any thread breaking issues as you sew. 

Use scrap of fabric to test the stitches and tension before sewing actual garment. 

Princess seam step by step instructions:

  • Begin with stay stitching: Use stay stitching as it avoids fabric distortion when it is not cut on the grain line. Princess seams have areas that are not cut straight and the overall seam is curved. Avoid stretching the seam by using stay stitching with a stitch length of 2mm or smaller.
  • Center Seam Allowances: Small slits are created with a pair of sharp sewing scissors into the seam allowance to provide some movement space to spread the fabric around the curve. Either clip or notch to do so. Notching is cutting triangular chunks in the seam allowance to minimize the seam bulk. Clipping is snipping into the seam allowance for easily spread.
  • Re-mark the notches: Re-mark notches of the pattern with an erasable pen or sewing pins that have rubbed away from clipping. Line the notches for smoother princess seams on the front and side pieces facing each other.
  • Pin: Begin with notches and head outwards. Handle notches first, and then tackle the curve and the front by pinning. Check the fit and then pin to secure.
  • Sew: Sew with the clipped side up slowly with ⅝” seam allowance. Watch for waves or puckering while sewing to keep it smooth.
  • Set: Open the seam allowance and seam center should be pressed using an iron.

Generally, princess seams are indicated on sewing pattern with notches for perfect match. Ensure to clip only the curved area and use stay stitch so that the clips does not continue to rip. When clipping the fabric, make sure to clip ⅛” away from the stay stitch.

How to finish princess seams?

To finish princess seams, depends on the width of seam allowance. If the seam allowance is ¼” to ⅜” width, the seams lay smoothly without clipping so it allows you to overlock using a serger.

However, if you already clipped the seam, add lining, pink it or bind with French seam for a clean finish.

Keep your seam allowance wider when beginning with princess seams for clipping and pinning. Clip the concave side and feed the convex side for stay stitch. 

This way you have lesser finishing to deal with, and you can either bind or use a zigzag stitch to finish the edge. 

Trimming the seam allowance to ¼” and using a serger for a neat finish is also a great way to finish the seam instead of binding. If you decide to trim the seam allowance, keep clipping the length short to ⅛” away from straight stitch so that when you trim you have seam allowances without clipping.

How to sew princess seams

Sewing Princess Seams: Final Thoughts

A princess seam is an attractive element to make a bodice fit like a glove compared to using darts. That is why you will see princess seams on the dresses and gowns to maximize flattering of the body. 

To get it right, follow the step by step procedure tosew princess seam effortlessly with a smooth finish. 

Read the sewing pattern and apply stay stitch along the instructed seam allowance width, and using standard stitch length around 2.0 or smaller on the center front or back piece.

Next, use straight stitch to sew along the stay stitch to join the right side of the front and side pieces facing right sides together. Pin before sewing to help smooth out the curved area for indication. 

Use sharp scissors and only clip along the curved area about ¼” long so that it does not hit the stay stitch line. Otherwise, trim the seam allowance into ¼” width without clipping.

Press open the seam with steam or hot dry iron based on the fabric content and use a press cloth for any delicate fabric. 

Finish the princess seam by sewing overlock stitch with a Serger, adding lining or with the French seam method to clean finish the inside of the bodice. Simply follow the desired finishing method as sewing pattern instructions tell you to do. 

Princess seams give ease and comfort to a garment while accentuating the feminine side at the bust area. 

Properly executing princess seams on the garment is very important to solve fit issues. Use these sewing tips to create an equal princess seam line on both sides of the garment.

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