Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

finishing curved seams

Laura | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello everyone,

I was wondering whether anyone had any advice on finishing curved seams. I have just sewn a shirt with princess seams down the front and am not very happy with the finish of the curved seams as they pucker and won’t lie completely flat. I had to do a a full bust adjustment on the pattern which made the princess seam very curved. Usually when I make shirts I press the seams to one side, zig-zag them closed and then trim them. This is what I did on the princess  seam, zig-zagging very close to the seam at the bust and thus trimming the seam allowance quite narrow there. When I made the muslin I clipped and notched the princess seam and it lay perfectly smooth, but I didn’t want to do this on the real shirt as I couldn’t see how I could finish the seams into the notches without having sloppy results. All my sewing books tell me to clip and notch the seam and press it open, which gives a good finish on the outside but not on the inside. I would be very grateful for any tips,

thank you,



  1. stitchmd | | #1

    Unless you clip almost to the seam or trim the allowance to under an eigth inch your seam allowance will be smaller than the seamline and pucker it.

    If you clip at an angle so you are not cutting with the lengthwise or crosswise grain the fabric won't really ravel. You can use some seam sealant as extra insurance. It will be a small break in your seam finish but the outside will look better and that counts for more.

    Good pressing technique helps too. Use a tailor's ham, or a wadded up towel or anything that will withstand steam and provide a contoured surface. Press with the tip of your iron from the inside first to spread the allowances apart. Then steam and press the seam on the outside. Use a damp press cloth and have the ham behind the piece to press and shape the fabric and seam to the contour. Some shrinking and stretching will take place to help the flat fabric accommodate to its new rounder shape.

    1. Laura | | #2

      Thank you very much for your help 'Pas de nom', I'll definitely try you suggestion next time.

    2. msm | | #3

      i was going to say what laura did: use a tailor's ham. no technique will keep curved seams from puckering like that if you try to iron them flat. it's not too late for this garment-
      before i had my ham, i'd bundle up a towel really tight.

  2. lpip | | #4

    I took a look at two princess seamed summer dresses I had made and a nightshirt with princess seams I bought.  On the cotton nightshirt with curved seams the seams are stitched, serged, pressed to the side and edgestitched close to the seam.

    On my summer dresses--one cotton and one rayon--I pressed the seams flat to set the stitching, then pressed them open with lots of steam over a ham, then pressed to one side and finished the seams--one with a utility stitch on my sewing machine and the second with my serger.  I didn't clip the seams at all.  Unless the curve is deep I've found I don't need to clip with natural fiber fabrics.  If it doesn't take steam, then I stay away from the curves.

    When you stitch the seams, it's very important to use the easing of your machine's feed dogs.  You might also want to try sewing a narrower seam.  You could line a dress with princess seams to hide the clips.

    Roberta Carr's book Couture has a good section on princess and curved seams.  Also, take a look at ready to wear in stores to see how it's done.  I'll bet you won't see a clip anywhere.

  3. FitnessNut | | #5

    This is one area that many have difficulty with. Part of the problem in trying to make the seam allowances lie flat is that they will be shorter than the seamline on one side, and hence will pull up, and longer on the other, causing unsightly bumps. This is exacerbated with wider seam allowances, both at the sewing and finishing stages. (Same with setting in a sleeve, though that's another thread.) Unless a 1.5 cm (5/8") seam is absolutely necessary for fitting (which in reality should be dealt with before this stage), it makes perfect sense to trim the allowances to 1 cm (3/8") before sewing. In natural fibre fabrics, sometimes clipping is not then necessary with proper pressing over a ham. Or only a few clips are needed.....in which case, finish the seams first, then clip on the bias.

    1. Laura | | #6

      Yes, I think I'll try using narrower seam allowances on the princess seam next time. Following the advice of the various posts I pressed the seam over a rolled up towel using a lot of steam and that did indeed make a big difference. The puckers have completely gone on the one side and only a few tiny ones remain on the other (perhaps due to my makeshift 'ham' - I definitely need to get myself a real one!). I had noticed that ready-to-wear shirts have narrow seam allowances that are serged together without a clip in sight, and it was that finish that I was trying to reproduce on my shirt. The trouble is that the curves on my princess seams are significantly bigger than the ones on ready-to-wear shirts (which never fit me!).

      Thank you all for you tips.

      1. mem1 | | #7

        I would recommende that you slip stitch the outside layer onto the inner pannel as Roberta car does . You the open up the slip stiched seam and sew it on the machine . It works very well .You can run an easing stitch through the longer side to help with this .

      2. SewNancy | | #8

        The other option is to buy more fabric and cut 4  center panels where you have the most problem and then you can use the extra pieces deep facings.  The seam are pressed to the inside and hidden under the finished edge of the deep facing.  You can then clip as much as needed.


  4. alotofstitches | | #9

    I use princess seamed patterns almost exclusively--I serge the entire seam on each side, clip and press open.  If it's a loose weave, I clip using pink shears to eliminate as much fraying as possible.  I press over a Tailor's Ham, pressing small areas at a time to get a good smooth shape.  I always press seams as they are sewn before pressing them open too.

  5. stillstitchin | | #10


    You might try trimming the seam and notching by clipping little "V's" to remove bulk, and then serging or zig-zagging the seam.  If you allow the fabric to separate at the notches when serging it should leave some slack in the stitches to allow them to separate and the seam to lay flat when pressed.  This has worked well for me and gives a smooth look on the outside as well as a finished seam on the inside. 


This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All