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Princess Seams: Shoulder vs. Armscye

ChrisHaynes | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

Okay… in the message from Carol Fresia here:

http://forums.taunton.com/tp-gatherings/messages?msg=2229.1 …

she mentions that we should use princess seams that go to the shoulder, and not the arm.

So when I looked in my pattern stash… I noticed all but ONE had the princess seam to to the arm! 

Now it is an interesting pattern:  McCall’s 8804, “The Perfect Vest” by Palmer/Pletsch (the Fit Experts).  It has 4 different vests… each with a different fitting type:  princess to shoulder, princess to arm, double dart (long and bust) and finally a looser one with just one shoulder dart (per side).

It seams that the vest with the armscye princess seam fits closer/better than the shoulder princess.  I’ve attached a scan of the pattern envelope.

I found it difficult to find patterns that have shoulder princess (hard to do with the Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue site)… but eventually found that http://www.patternshowcase.com/ had a good search method that gave over 100 patterns with princess seams (both types).

What I would like to see in Threads (and I did look in the _Fitting Your Figure_ book and the Threads back issue search) would be a discussion of WHICH princess style is better, and perhaps a way to convert one type to another (arm to shoulder, shoulder to arm).




  1. stitchmd | | #1

    I'm wondering if the real answer is that different styles suit different figures best. I think it would be worth making up muslins of a few vests to see what suits YOU.

    1. ChrisHaynes | | #2

      Even still... I would like to see some articles in Threads on how to convert and work with princess seams...

      AND the answer to the reasons why Carol Fresia said that the the shoulder princess seams were better.

      1. GhillieC | | #3

        Shoulder Princess seams are considered to be more flattering for a fuller figure.  You can rotate the seams in the same way as you rotate bust darts.


  2. carolfresia | | #4

    Hi, Chris,

    Shoulder princess seams are thought to provide slightly easier shaping over a fuller bust than those originating in the armscye (where they might have to make a rather dramatic swoop). But really, it does all depend on your individual shape--including bust size, torso length, preferred armscye fit, etc. etc. It's worth making a muslin or two to see which style works best for you, although fabric choice will come into play as well (since some fabrics simply don't ease well, and might be better darted, as are some types of prints).

    To make things clearer (or more complicated!), take a look at Pamela Ptak's article on the S-dart in Threads, No.107. She shows how to make custom-curved darts and princess seams that really improve the shaping of fitted bodices. You'll notice that the fuller-busted model is in a shoulder princess seam style, and the model with the more "standard" figure is wearing darts.  

    Thanks for the suggestion of an article on princess seams and fitting. I'll pass that on to our Fitting editor!


    1. ChrisHaynes | | #5

      Thanks... I did look at the article.  It did show the shoulder princess seam.

      Though... unfortunately almost ALL my patterns are for arm seams (like suit jackets).

      I definitely need to getting around making the tape dress dummy.

      1. carolfresia | | #6

        Chris, when I was researching patterns with shoulder princess seams I had trouble finding many, too. I think Sandra Betzina has a few in her Vogue collection. I'll keep you posted if I find anything else good...


    2. rjf | | #9

      Just offering another kind of dart.......I had a dress pattern that was fairly close fitting and the bodice dart started at the corner of the waistline and side seam so it took the place of both the bust and waist dart.  It might have been luck that it fit well enough so I didn't have to fool around with altering.  Now that I think of it there was another pattern with the same kind of dart but a V-neck cut on the straight of the goods.  The fabric was a muted stripe which looked great with the neckline and the dart, one of my favorite dresses.                  rjf

  3. sewingkmulkey | | #7

    It has been my experience (40+ years) that the princess line starting at the armscye, rather than the shoulder, fits better especially for women with full, low busts.  It gives you the opportunity to adjust (reduce the seam at the armscye where many women are narrow and add at bust point).  This allows for a much better fitting vest and sleeveless dress (no gaps).


    1. ChrisHaynes | | #8

      That makes sense when you think that a armscye princess seam is really the bust dart and vertical darts turned into seams (and I think I saw a Threads article on how to do that a while ago).

      It would also seam to me that there should be adjustments for either princess seam to make sure they fall on the bust apex properly. 

      This is obviously something to try out when I get the dummy taped... but unfortunately this has to wait until my next project gets done (installing the drip irrigation system in the yard, something that should free up at least 2 hours a week during the summer!).

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