How to make French Seams on Princess Panels

July 31, 2016

I love French seams. Unlike an overlock finish, a French seam gives the inside of the garment a couture look that is rarely found in ready-to-wear.

When I first started sewing, I didn’t know how to finish princess seams that weren’t going to be lined.  All those exposed clips scared me.  I tried every technique I read about, from top stitching to overlocking, but it wasn’t until I tried using a French seam that I was satisfied with the results.

If you want to test this method, which I highly suggest before you sew the real thing, I have included a mini 2 page PDF test pattern to try with some scrap fabric. You can download it here:  French Princess Seam Test 2 Pages

French Princess Seams Tutorial:

Important Note: This method assumes that there is NO EASE in your princess panel seams (the stitching length of both panels is the same) and that your seam allowance is 1.5cm or 5/8″.  This is an advanced technique.

1) Download the 2 page PDF test pattern French Princess Seam Test 2 Pages (or make your own test pieces). Cut out the pattern pieces and place them right-side-up on the wrong side of the fabric.

print out the pattern pieces
2) Trace and cut out your pattern pieces. Make sure to mark the notches. For easy marking, I like to clip the notches on my paper pattern pieces as shown below:

cut your notches
3) On the center piece (which, on a real pattern, would be your Center Front or Center Back piece) stay-stitch 1.3 cm or 1/2″ from the fabric edge.

stay stitch the center front panel
4) Clip the center piece up to the stay-stitching. Your clips will be closer together around the curves. Be careful to cut just to, but not through, the stay-stitching.

clip up to the stay stitching
5) WRONG SIDES TOGETHER match the notches, top, and bottom. Spread apart the clips so that the raw edges match. You might need to make some more clips to make the edges match. Pin.
6) With the CENTER PIECE on top, sew a 1cm or 3/8″ seam. Start at the bottom edge, sewing up towards the curve.

match raw edges and stitch a 1cm seam7) TRIM the seam you just sewed to 3mm or 1/8″

trim seam to 3mm
8) Lightly press seam (use a pressing ham to maintain the bust shaping) towards center panel.
9) Fold 2 pieces so that RIGHT SIDES are now together. Pin so that the just-stitched seam is smooth and along the edge.

fold right sides together
10) Sew a .5 cm or 1/4″ seam, enclosing the previous seam. You will be sewing just outside the first stay-stitching line.

press seam towards center piece

11)  Using a ham, press towards the center panel, hiding the stay-stitching and the small clip marks.

The finished French Princess seam from the inside.

French princess seams on the inside

And you’re done!  A gorgeous, couture finish using French seams on your princess panels.


    1. This is so cool Tamara, will use it next time I have a pattern with princess seams!

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