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How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

I love princess seams – out of all the ways you can make a flat piece of fabric mould to a womans curves, it’s my favourite. I feel like the fit of a princess seam is always cleaner, smoother and closer. I remember when i first sewed a pattern with princess seams I didn’t quite feel that way. I was 16, and I didn’t think i needed to follow all the preparation steps, so i jumped straight in trying to ease those seams in with nothing more than stretching and crying. Needless to say i ended up with a a very poorly fitting bodice, puckers, warped seams and centre bodice and side bodice that were different lengths at the waistline.

So don’t do that.

Princess seams don’t have to be painful if you follow my straightforward steps, and ensure that you do your prep work.

For this example i’m using the lining pattern pieces for my Karri dress sewing pattern. Due to the slight transparency of the lining i used, i think it shows the steps more clearly than an opaque fabric. Also I’ve started with the back of the bodice – the reason i’ve done this is simply because it shows the technique more clearly, but you will literally use the same method for the front bodice pieces too.

Shall we get started?

For this sewing pattern the bodice seams will be completely enclosed by the lining, so it is not necessary to finish the raw edges of seams. If you do wish to finish the raw edges it’s best that you do so prior to sewing, so that all seams may be pressed open to reduce bulk.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Staystitch just under ¼” (0.6cm) from the raw edge along the back neckline edge. This will help prevent the neckline from stretching whilst sewing, and will provide a handy mark for lining up the zipper later. (Yup i forgot to do this in my example. I am bad. And a rebel.)

Staystitch just under 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge along the curved seam lines of the Back [5].

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Clip along the curved sections in regular intervals.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryHow to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Place the Back on the Side Back with right sides facing each other. First pin at the bottom of the seam, then pin the notches together, then pin the top of the seam.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diaryprincess-seams-7

Ease the curved seam of the Back into the curved seam of the Side Back. Ensure that the notches line up.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Sew 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Press the seams open or towards the centre back.

Repeat on other side.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

As a side note, I prefer to press towards the centre back as i feel it gives a smoother seam in this case. As you can see in the above photos when i compare the pressed open and pressed to the centre back seams. You could achieve a smoother seam with an open press if you notch the seam allowance , but i feel that adds an extra step that isn’t super necessary.

Now we need to do the same for the front princess seams!

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Staystitch just under 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge along the curved seam lines of the centre front bodice.

Clip along the curved sections in regular intervals.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary Place the front panel on the Front Side with right sides facing each other. Ease the curved seam of the centre bodice into the curved seam of the Front Side. Ensure that the notches on the Front Side line up with the notches the centre bodice.

How to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryHow to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design DiaryHow to sew princess seams // A Karri dress tutorial // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

For Karri, the front bodice has a horizontal seam that lines up with the Front Side notches.

Sew 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge.

Repeat on other side. Press the seams open or  towards the centre front.

Any questions please let me know in the comments!

// LOOKING FOR MORE TUTORIALS? //

Here’s the full list of Karri tutorials:

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Don’t have the Karri sewing pattern yet? Get it in store here! We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNkarri and @megannielsenpatterns if sharing on social media.

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About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Ana Sullivan
5 years ago

You have proved that you can always learn something new. I have always pressed princess seams open. You have shown how pressing toward the center makes more sense. I have saved this to my Sewing Techniques Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/thelostapron/sewing-techniques/

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[…] Nielsen is on a roll with two tutorials this week. Learn how to sew princess seams and how to make […]

Vani
Vani
3 years ago

This technique is unique, great, I will try definitely.