Princess seams are a flattering and elegant way to shape a blouse over the fullness of a woman's bust. They are also used in vests and jackets, as well as dresses, to create fitted garments that lengthen and visually slim the torso. However, they require a little more attention to detail than the customary darts in women's clothing.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Fabric and matching thread
- Sewing machine
- Buttons or snaps
Before you begin, choose a pattern that utilises princess seams. Several to consider are Kwik Sew 2849, Butterick 4659, McCalls 6035, or Simplicity 3789. For beginners, the Kwik Sew pattern is easier to use. Whichever pattern you choose, make sure you check the pattern envelope for the fabric and any notions required to complete the blouse.
Choose your fabric. Most cotton and cotton blends will work well with any of the patterns. You might consider a fabric blend that contains a small percentage of spandex. Spandex gives a little stretch and give to fabric, and is easy to manipulate on curved princess seams. When you purchase your fabric, be sure you get the thread and notions you will need as well.
If you are using 100% cotton fabric, prewash your material to prevent shrinkage later. Fabric that has polyester content does not need to be prewashed, except for preference. Follow the pattern directions for laying out and cutting your fabric. Be sure you mark all the notches and circles, which are necessary for construction.
Your machine should be threaded top and bottom (bobbin) with a thread that closely matches the fabric colour. When you begin sewing any new project, it is a good idea to use a new needle as well.
Princess seams are curved seams, and consequently, can be a little difficult to stitch. Several suggestions may help. Most seamstresses will use stay stitching (a row of stitching just inside the seam line) to stabilise the curved area and prevent stretching. It is also helpful to make small cuts in the seam allowance every 1/4 inch or so to make fitting seams easier. Another method that might be helpful is trimming the usual 5/8 inch seam allowance to 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch before stitching. When stitching the seam, remember to keep the convex curve of the fabric on the edge of the machine's feed dogs. This positioning is easier to imagine if you picture the curve of your right thumb and fingers as they look when the hand is cupped.
The princess seams will be some of the first seams the pattern directions instruct you to do. Follow the other instructions in the order given, remembering to press your seams as directed. The finishing touches will be the buttons and buttonholes.
Instructions for Completion
Tips and warnings
- If this is the first time you have ever attempted princess seams, you might want to make the blouse first in an inexpensive muslin. Any problems you encounter can be worked out before you begin sewing your blouse in the fabric you have chosen. It will also give you an opportunity to practice princess seams on a fabric that can be discarded after practice.
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