April 17, 2012

How to: Create Armscye Princess Seams

For my upcoming wrap dress, I decided to draft armscye princess seams for the back bodice (in plain old english, this means that the princess seam originates from the armhole). Formerly, I've never really been fond of princess seams mostly because I just never really gave them a chance I think. But times change and I'll be....darned if I were to say that I'm one of those people who get stuck in fashion ruts. I mean, princess seams are timeless, so its only apropos that I give them a fightin chance. This really isn't a hard technique, so I thought I would put together a little tutorial on how to do it. Before you jump into this tutorial, make sure you've gone over How to: Move a Dart as this is a bit of a follow up from that. So now, are you ready to give your favorite TNT (tried'n'true - believe me, I had no idea what this term meant until a few weeks ago) pattern a facelift?

Back Bodice

Step 1 ♥ Let's start with the back bodice first, because its the easiest - which is not to say this is hard, so don't be scared. First thing to do is draw in some grainlines in the areas I've given you above. Keep the grainlines parallel to the center back. Now, I've got a confession to make. I didn't do this first step, so the next few photos are going to be grainline-less, but please don't miss this first step like I did. It's important that you don't get all grainline confused.

Step 2 ♥ Now we need to draw in the princess seam. From the tip of the dart (the top, pointy end) to the middle-ish section of the armscye draw in a line. Then add some notches which will help you when sewing this bad boy up later on.

Step 3 ♥ Now you're going to take your paper scissors and cut out the dart and cut from the tip of the dart to the armscye where you just marked your new seam line.

Step 4 ♥ Take your french curve and curve out the pointy parts (this happens to be at the top of the dart) of the new princess seam. You'll be cutting a sliver from the Side Back and you'll be adding just a little paper to the Upper Back.

Step 5 ♥ Add seam allowances to your freshly drafted back bodices. See, not so bad right? PPPSSsshawwww! You could do this in your sleep!

Front Bodice

Step 1 ♥ OK, the front bodice is a little different than the back. Not by much, but if you'll notice, you have more curves on your front than your back - Ladies, I'm referring to you here. Now this particular piece will look familiar from yesterday's Move a Dart tute. I'm just continuing on, so unless you have both darts in these particular places (armscye and waist), go move your dart. First you'll draw in your grainlines making sure they are parallel to the center front.

Step 2 ♥ Now you need to extend the waist dart to the apex. Remember what the apex is? if you don't, I'll refresh your memory. It's the pivoting point of the dart and for our front bodice that's right plumb over the middle of your breast. You should already have this marked if you moved a dart. Next you're going to sketch in some notches and then sketch in another notch for the apex - making sure that it spills over into the side front area. In the photo above my hand is holding together that armscye dart so I can notch it. And no, this was not an easy photo to take.

Step 3 ♥ Now doesn't this look familiar. Cut out your waist dart and from there you should have two separate pieces. I've labeled them Side Front and Upper Front and you can too.

Step 4 ♥ Round out those points, still keeping track of the apex. This is just like Step 4 for the Back Bodice.

Step 5  For the Front Bodice only we've got to add in a little bit of ease that we just took out when we rounded those sharp points. You'll notice that we didn't do that for the Back Bodice because to be blunt we don't have breasts back there. We've got them up front. So you'll need to slash from the apex almost to the side seam and spread (add paper and tape here) by 1/2". This will give you back that little bit of ease. Mind you this is only for the Side Front Bodice.

Step 6 ♥ Last but not least, add seam allowances. Yay!

Not bad, eh? Go ye forth and move some darts, make some princess seams and slash and spread. It's fun! Enjoy!



  1. Thanks, Sunni!

    This was exactly what I wanted! A princess seam from the armscye, not from the shoulder...Last night I moved my dart from the waist to the armscye, so today I am ready to make the princess seams! Brilliant! Thanks a lot for the tutorial...

    A quick question, my breasts are pretty small, do I still have to add that ease for the front bodice?

  2. I'm so glad! Yes, if the bodice fits you perfectly, definitely add the ease in. It's really not much - only 1/2" but it does make a difference!

  3. You are the queen of tutorials! I did this kind of dart manipulation many moons ago, but couldn't remember exactly how I did it. I'm pretty sure there was some divine intervention involved. Your crystal clear tutorial has me back on track--bookmarked. Thx for sharing.

  4. Hi!! I love these drafting posts! I have my own sloper and the rotating post (last one) was wonderful - I'd love to see more rotations. Also, I love this post - I didn't add ease to my bodice but now I see that may have been better! Sunni, I'm such a fan!

  5. Excellent tutorial. Thank you.

  6. Jessica Maas Sew NaturalEUApril 18, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    great tutorial! thanks :)

  7. That's awesome! I'll admit, I didn't know what TNT meant until recently either... I had to google it LMAO!! Thank goodness for the interwebz :P I'm not at a point yet where I have any TNTs but I sure hope to be there someday! :)

  8. Thanks, I am going to bookmark, sometimes it's nice to revisit a tutorial.

  9. This is awesome! thank you so much!
    One question (probably a silly one): when we slash and spread the front side (step 5) wouldn't that edge become longer than the other front pattern piece it is supposed to be sewn to? (i am talking about the curved seam we just rounded with the french curve) would those 2 parts still be of the same length or one will be 1/2" longer than the other one?

  10. It will be a little longer, but that's typical. Princess seams require a bit of easing to set in. When I sew up a princess seam, I usually run a machine basting stitch along the upper bodices that's 1/8" from the seam line (for typical patterns with 5/8" seam allowance that would be 1/2"). From there I clip the curved area and then pin the side bodices to the upper and stitch them together. Its much easier and makes for a far less puckery princess seam, especially along the front.

  11. [...] Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch shows how to alter a darted bodice pattern into one with an armscye princess seam.  A princess seam is actually very similar to a pair of darts, but it provides smoother contours.  It’s also faster and easier to sew than a pair of darts, since it’s just one continuous seam.  Get the tutorial to see how it’s done. [...]

  12. Thank you!! Can't wait to try this out :) these posts are AWESMW and you are a very GiFTED teacher!!

  13. Awesome tutorial! I know I'm going to use this someday soon...

  14. Brilliant! I want to try it in the other direction, there's a princess seamed blouse pattern that fits me perfectly, but might be fun with darts instead :)

  15. Awesome! I've been thinking about copying my "TNT" (also only learned what this meant a few weeks ago) bodice pattern and making a princess seam once; I'm really hoping it will give me a closer, more slim-fitting bodice than I can manage with the French dart. Thanks for your great tutorial :) !

  16. I had to google it LMAO!! Thank goodness for the interwebz..

  17. Not bad at all. I could do this. I like princess seams allot because I tend to lean toward fitted not loose fitting garments.

    Also I've noticed you added the seam allowance back to the pattern pieces and i think most people like having it on there patterns. I like keeping my self drafted patterns without seam allowance because they are easier and more accurate to alter later. It's just my personal preference.

    Thanks again.

  18. I have my own sloper and the rotating post (last one) was wonderful – I’d love to see more rotations. Thanks for the great blog.


© A Fashionable Stitch. All rights reserved.