Yes, you’ve read that correctly. That says seam. It’s not a typo, and it’s not autocorrect trying to write something ridiculous that has no relation to the context whatsoever, I promise. If you haven’t figured it out already, we’re going to be talking about clothing seams and why they’re so important to check before purchasing clothes.
The fate of your clothes rest with the seams. I’m not even kidding! Seams can determine how well your clothing is going to last, let alone how it fits, and you can even figure out how some clothes will fit on your figure before you even try them on. One type of seam that you may already be familiar with is the princess seam; you may just not realize it.
I’m sure images of tiaras, taffeta, corsets, hoop skirts, bustles, and volumes of fabric all come to mind when mentioning the word princess, but a princess seam is less about volume and more about tailoring. There may have been a time in your life when you’ve tried on a blazer, moto jacket, or a dress. Okay, maybe you’ve tried on dozens of blazers, moto jackets, and dresses in your lifetime and have dealt with the struggles of clothes that are boxy, shapeless, and ill-fitting.
A lot of the time people get to the point where they get frustrated and end up splurging more than they bargained for on a clothing piece. Sometimes it’s worth it, and other times it’s not. You may look at your reflection in the fitting room mirror at a store and question how a designer jacket is working wonders compared to every other jacket you’ve tried on. “Is it the way it’s cut? Is it the type of material?” While both of those questions contribute to the reason why, it’s also because what you’re trying on may have princess seams. So, what are princess seams?
Imagine that you’re wearing a very loose t-shirt that’s drowning your figure. You try tucking it in, but there’s so much excess fabric that it creates an awkward line under your jeans. You try doing the half tuck and even the side tuck with the t-shirt, but it still has somewhat of a boxy look. Your last idea is to gather all of that fabric toward the front or side and tie it in a knot. Somehow, that little knot manages to create a figure flattering look and makes everything look fitted. Or, you can picture wearing a t-shirt and pinning sections around the entire shirt that are too loose to make it more fitted. That is exactly what princess seams do, only they create a tailored look with perfectly cut fabric panels and curved seams that creates a perfect pattern without the excess fabric.
To get a specific picture of what princess seams look like in everyday life, I pulled one of my favorite velvet jackets by Collection B from my closet that I bought last year which (luckily) is able to demonstrate two types of princess seams that you may come across when shopping. Most of the princess seams that you will see are connected by a series of fabric panels consisting of a center front, side front, center back, side back, and possibly more panels depending on the design that are stitched together to form the seams.
The seams usually start between the neckline and shoulder cap, run along the curve of the bust line, through the waistline, and so forth. On the back of the jacket, the seams are relatively similar to the front design minus the extra set of princess seams, and the pattern is fitted to the curve of the shoulders and back. However, they can start lower than that. As you’ll see pictured, princess seams can also start in the armscye (aka armhole), continue in a curved seam through the bust line, and most times start to straighten out once they go past the waistline. With this particular design, the second set of princess seams also have a piping detail along the seam, but not all princess seams will have that even if they have a lower position.
Some of the types of clothes that you’ll see princess seams incorporated in while you’re shopping are in sheath dresses, pencil skirts (though not so much of a curved line), moto jackets, blazers, the bodice part of peplum tops (though not to be confused with peplum tops that use darts), and more. What I love the most is that princess seams offer a tailored look for both affordable and high-end fashion. More often than not, princess seams make it possible to save extra money from not having to take something to a tailor, they save a little more time when figuring out what clothes to take with you to the fitting room to try on, and they lessen the overwhelming feeling of not being able to find something that flatters your figure in all of the right ways.
Princess Seams were one of my favorite seams that I learned about when I took my first draping class. I remember when our college professor draped a long rectangular piece of muslin (a woven cotton fabric used for pattern drafting) on half of the dress form pinning the fabric in place, drawing outlines, creating seam allowances, and cutting fabric away as she went. I truly owe a majority of my apparel design knowledge to everything that she taught our class. It was amazing to be able to watch her demonstrations of different design techniques, and it’s even more exciting when you’re able to incorporate it into your own designs, see it used in clothing designs at the stores you’re shopping at, and to pass on some of that knowledge (to you guys) to help you learn something new and feel more confident when you’re out on your next shopping adventure!
FTC: Not sponsored.