Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Princess Panel Lines

Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Princess Panel Lines


Roksanda Ilincic, RST12, London.

Princess line is the name commonly given to panel lines that go through bust point, absorbing the dart value into the panel line. The panel line commonly curves from the armhole, down to the waistline through bust point, or from the center of the shoulder down through bust point to the waistline.

These seamline shapes are often then reflected in the seamlines of the back pattern pieces, so that on both front and back pattern pieces the panels curve into the armhole, or both panels meet at the shoulder.

The images above and below from Roksanda Ilincic show a classic princess line panel curving from the armhole down to the waist.


Below are the instructions and diagrams for how to move the dart value from a waist dart to a princess panel line from armhole to waistline. This has been done using the “Cut and Spread” method of pattern making.

  1. Trace off your pattern onto a new piece of card or paper so that you will not damage your original pattern. 
  2. Next draw on the guideline for your panel seam by drawing through the bust point and along the dart arms. Then continue the guideline up from bust point into the armhole. Make sure to mark notch points for bust point and a few centimeters above and below this bust point. These notches will help the curve to be sewn correctly.
  3. Cut the pattern along the guidelines, discarding the dart value. Design lines are often drawn through the highest and lowest curves of the body for close fitting garments, such as the bust point, or around the waist. This enables the panels to be cut in as close to the body as possible.
  4. Place the patterns onto a new sheet of cardboard. Trace the outlines of the patterns onto the cardboard underneath, and smooth the curve of the panel lines by hand, by using a french curve ruler, or by using a similar pattern making guide.
  5. Make sure that the seam lines of the princess panel lines are equal to each other in length. Draw the seam allowance onto the new panel lines and transfer the notch marks.
  6. Cut out the pattern pieces making sure that all markings have been transferred. The grainline will run parallel to center front for the front bodice piece. The grainline for the side panel will run up the center of the panel, perpendicular to the hemline – assuming that the hemline represents a horizontal waistline.

Basic bodice block diagram below that forms the starting point for the pattern mainpulation. Front pattern piece has a bust dart from the waist for shaping.


Below are the images, numbered to match the instructions:imageimageimage

Finished pattern with Princess line:


Note that the Princess line panel may require more shaping in the waist section, from the waist hem line up to the first notch. It is always recommended that a toile version of a new pattern be sewn up to test the pattern and the fit. You may find that you want to adjust the curve of the princess line by eye by drawing a new line onto the test toile, and then making the adjustment on the pattern.

It is best to have a good pattern making reference book to give you instructions on carrying out the precise steps involved in altering your pattern blocks. In the majority of cases on this site, the instructions are as an overview of the process, and cross referencing with other sources is recommended.

Roksanda Ilincic images from» Technical drawings from The Cutting Class»

Further Reading:

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