Princess Line – Armhole

This page gives instructions for creating the pattern pieces for the Armhole Princess Line style-line.  The instructions given are limited to the style-line, as that is the theory being covered –  I do not give the instruction to create the whole pattern; e.g. pattern pieces are not created for the lining or facing, and the final pattern pieces don’t have seam allowances added, or cutting instructions noted, etc. The first image on the page is the Flat that gives information on this pattern; e.g. in this case some flare has been added to the skirt (whereas in the Shoulder Line example, the skirt was straight). See Dress 003 in the Patterns Menu for an example of a dress pattern with this style-line.

Block Used

I will be using the Extended Line Dress Block for these instructions.


The image below shows the block being used (the Extended Line Dress Block) on the left, and on the right are the four final pattern pieces.

Note: The actual pattern would need seam allowance and cutting instructions added, etc.  A complete pattern would also need facing, lining or other finishing details.  This has not been done here we are just covering the theory, not creating a pattern from A~Z.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole)- Figure 1

We will start with the Dress Front and mark the design lines on the actual block before we start tracing. As with the Princess Line Shoulder example, I have scribbled out the smaller side seam dart; this is to allow a bit of ease in the waist.   The block has only 1-inch ease in the waist, and the flat does not look that fitting.  Using the smaller dart on the back and front for ease means that the ease in the waist will be approximately 3.5 inches.
  • Draw a straight guide line from the mid-armhole* (point A) to the Bust Point.
  • At the mid-point of the line just drawn (marked point B), at right angles to it, measure up for 3/6-inch (1cm) and mark a point (C).
  • Draw a curve from point A to the Bust Point, using C as a general guide to create the curve (your line doesn’t have to pass exactly through that point, concentrate more on getting a nice curve).
  • Continue that line from to the waist point of dart leg A, and then to the hem of Dart Leg A.
  • Draw another line from the Bust Point to the waist point of Dart Leg B, and then to the hem point of Dart Leg B.
*Note that the style-line can start above or below the mid-armhole, you can choose to make changes to the design based on your preferences.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 2

We will now mark a number of points on the block; the points are indicated by a cross (X).  These marks are made on the hip line (shown in blue), the Bust Radius circle (shown in purple), and the waist (shown in green).
  • Draw a line across the block at the hip-line (you should have a notch there), at right angles to the CF line.
  • Where the hip-line crosses the new dart legs, make a mark on both dart legs; this will be a balance point when sewing the pattern pieces together.
  • Draw your bust radius circle using a compass.  (Click on this link go to this page on  contouring, which explains the Bust Mound Radius if you are unsure of what this is).
  • Mark each place the Bust Mound circle and the stylelines intersect.
  • Mark the dart width points on the waistline.
  • Push an awl through the cardboard at each of the 7 points marked in the image.  This creates small holes which will allow you to make marks on the paper underneath. In this image these key points are shown as crosses, from the next image they will be shown as blue dots.  Note that your Bust Point should also have a hole – this should have been done when you created the block.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 3

The key points that were indicated by crosses (X) in the previous image are now indicated by small blue circles.  A reminder that these should be holes in your block.

We will now create pattern piece #1 – the CF piece.
  • Trace from the armhole design line around in a clockwise direction until you get to dart leg A at the hem.
  • Put your pencil through the 5 key internal points that relate to pattern piece # 1:  hip-line, waistline, dart leg under the Bust Point, the Bust Point itself, and where the Bust Circle crosses the style-line around the armhole level  (blue dots labelled 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 in the image) to make marks on the paper underneath.
  • In order to be able to draw the curve from the armhole to the Bust Point accurately (so that you will get the same curve for both pattern pieces), you will need to punch a few small pin-prick holes along the line to the paper underneath, using your awl.  You will use these same holes when creating the side seam pattern pieces.  (You could use a tracing wheel, but that will weaken your block).
Put your block aside to finish off PP#1.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 4

  • Draw in the curve from the armhole the Bust Point (point #4), using the pin prick holes as a guide.  Use a French curve to get a smooth curving line.
  • You should have points 1 – 5 marked; finish off the outline of the pattern piece.
  • Draw a straight line from the Bust Point (point #4) to the waist line (point # 2).  This line should pass through point #3.
  • You do not need to draw a line from the waist to the hem: if you look at the Flat, this skirt has flare in the skirt, so we will add that in the next step.  Measure from the waist to the hem.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 5

Now we need to do some calculations first.  I have measured the hem area of my block ((F+B) x 2), and the total is 40 inches, and I am going to double that length, adding 40 inches for a total of 80 inches. We won’t add flare to the CB or the CF, but we will add it to the other seams, including the side seam.  This means there will be 3 lots of flare added to each half-block (3 between the two Front pattern pieces, 3 between the two Back pattern pieces), multiplied by 2, means there are 12 places I’ll be adding flare.  Divide 40 inches by 12 means I will be adding 3.33 inches (3 and 5/16-inches) to each panel.
  • Measure out 3,31 inches from the hem point X and mark point Y.
  • Draw a guide line from the waist to point Y.
  • Using the measurement taken previously – waist to X – measure down the waist to Y line, and mark the end point Z.  This will not reach point Y.
  • Draw a curve from Y to X (shown with a green line).

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 6

When creating pattern piece #2, we will be pivoting the side seam dart into the armhole.  We will not be using the Bust Point as the pivot point; we will be using a point closer to the Dart Point.  We will do this to add some extra ease in the curve; if you do not understand how this works, see the Shoulder Line Princess instructions, Figures 5 – 10, which achieves the same thing but doing it in two steps).

Put the block back on the paper to create pattern piece # 2 – the side seam piece.    Leave enough room between the pattern pieces to add seam allowance.
  • Trace the block from the hemline at dart leg B around to the first dart leg of the side seam.
  • Mark the bottom side seam dart leg (indicated by a red arrow).
  • Put your pencil through the following holes to mark the paper underneath: #4 (Bust Point), #6 (hip-line), #7 (waistline) and #8 ( bottom ease notch point).  (Don’t mark #9).
  • Draw a line from the Bust Point to the Dart Point and measure. Using 3/4 of that measurement, measure from the Dart Point and mark X.  This will be out pivot point.  It is indicated by a green asterix in the image.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 7

  • Put your pencil on the Pivot Point (not the Dart Point) and pivot the block counter-clockwise until the side seam dart is closed.
  • Finish tracing the block from the the side seam dart to the armhole design line.
  • Put your pencil through hole #9 (top ease notch point) to mark the paper underneath.
  • Make the same pin-prick marks along the curved armhole line on the paper underneath; the pin-pricks made for PP#1 should still be visible, put the awl through the same holes.  This will ensure your two curved lines are exactly the same.
You can put your block aside.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 8

  • Draw the curved line from the armhole to the Bust Point.  You may need to move your French curve to draw a couple of lines, then blend them.
  • Draw a straight line from the Bust Point (point #4) to the waist line (point # 7).  This line should pass through point #8.
  • Draw a line from the waist (point #8) to the hem. This line should pass through the hip balance notch, point #6.

These pattern pieces need seam allowance added, plus cutting instructions etc.  I will not be finishing off these pieces for this theory; see the Patterns menu for instructions that take you through all steps from beginning to end.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 9

  • Extend the hem of PP#2 on each side for 3.31-inches.  Seam-line A2 needs to be the same length and the hip-line notch needs to match with A1.  Create this seam-line the same as you did with A1: refer to Figure 5.  Don’t forget to curve the hem.
  • With the side seam, extend the hemline out 3.31-inches and blend into the hip-line.  You will match this seam-line with the back side pattern piece when it is made.
  • Mark all notch points.
  • When making an actual pattern, you would add seam allowance, which I’m not doing in these examples.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 10

We are leaving the smaller back waist dart unsewn to add some ease in the waist.
  • Draw a line at right angles to the CF at the underarm level (shown on the image as a blue dashed line).
  • Reduce the waist dart height to this line, and mark the new top dart point, marked with an A.  Pierce a small hole at A.
  • Make sure you have holes pierced through the other dart points and widths: marked by B, C, D & E.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 11

  • Draw the curved princess line from the mid-armhole (point F) to go through point A, to point B and then to point C.
  • Draw a straight line parallel to the CF down to the hem, and mark where the line meets the hem G.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 12

  • Trace the block from the armhole point F  around to the neckline, down the CB line and to the hem point G. (Of course you go the other way around if it is easier to go in a clockwise direction).
  • Mark points A, B, C, D & E with a pencil through the holes.
  • Mark the shoulder dart width points (shown by the red arrows).
  • Use an awl to pierce a few pin-pricks along the curved design line F to A.  This is to make sure that curved line will be the same for both pattern pieces.
  • Mark the hip notch point on the C-G line.
Put your block aside for the moment and we will finish pattern piece #3.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 13

  • Draw in the shoulder dart.
  • Draw the curved design line from F to A using a French ruler and the pin pricks made by the awl as a guide.
  • Draw lines from A to B (but not through to C – C was our guide to draw the line down to G).
  • Extend the hemline past G for 3.31-inches, it is marked H.
  • Measure from B to G and draw a line from B towards H that will end at point I.
  • Draw a hemline curve from G to I.
  • Mark the hip notch on the new seam-line.
  • Mark notch points at A and B.
  • You would add seam allowance to the piece before cutting it out, as well as marking the grainline, cutting instructions and etc.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 14

Put your block back down, leaving enough space for seam allowance.  Remember that we will be adding flare to the skirt, so there needs to be at least 3.31 inches + seam allowance between the two pieces.
  • Trace around pattern piece #3; from point F on the armhole, down to the side seam and around to point G on the hemline.
  • Mark the same pinpricks along the F-A line, as a guide to draw the curve on the paper underneath.
  • Mark points A and D with your pencil in the drill holes.  (Again, we don’t need point C due to our added flare).
  • Mark the hip-line point.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 15

Remove the block and place it aside.
  • Draw the curved line from F to A, using a French ruler and the pinprick points as a guide.
  • Extend the hem in both directions, from G to I and from H to J.
  • Measure from D to G, and draw that same length towards I and label the end point K.
  • Draw a straight line from the side seam waist point (should be a notch) down towards J, to be the same value as D to K.
  • Draw the hem curves from G to K and from H to L.
  • When you cut out the pattern pieces, check seam-line C1 and C2 against each other once cut out, making sure the length and notches match.
  • Also check seam-ine B2 against front side seam (marked B1 in a previous image), making sure the lengths and notches match.

Instructions (Princess Line – Armhole) – Figure 16

Here are the final pattern pieces without seam allowance. As well as seam allowance, you would need to also add cutting instructions and additional information.  (I also write the number of pattern pieces, e.g. #1 of 4, #2 of 4, #3 of 4 & #4 of 4).

5 Responses

  1. Well detailed. Thumbs up! For this princes armhole pattern, is it the same for sleeves and sleeveless? Or does contouring needed for the sleeveless? Or has the pattern been contoured already? Thanks

  2. Hello Charity

    If you draft the pattern with your (Sleeves) Bodice Block, then you will have to make adjustments before you draw in the design line because sleeveless garment have less ease in the underarm area. If your sleeveless garment also has cutaway arms, that would require more contouring.

    If you look at the contouring places – shown as No.1 to No.7 in Figure 1 in this article:
    Then you need to make adjustments to No.1, No 2 & No 3.

    Here is a general outline of how to approach working our your individual contouring:

    If you really don’t have the time or really don’t want to work out your individual contouring, the general rule (for Standard Figures) is reducing the width at the armhole for 0.38 inch (1cm), both front and back, and also raising the front armhole (not the back) 0.38 inch (1cm). (This does not include any contouring required for cutaway armholes).

    I recommend making a Sleeveless Block so you don’t have to make those adjustments every time you make a Sleeveless Garment.

  3. Where can I find instructions for the Extended Line Dress Block? When I click on the link, it takes me to the bodice, sleeve, and pants blocks, but the Extended Line Dress Block is not there.

    1. Hello Lynn

      Very sorry, but I when I changed my website platform some time ago some of my content seemed to go missing. I have quite a few missing links and pages that have disappeared. I do have that content somewhere on my computer but I just don’t have time to look for it and re-create those pages. I am prioritizing my YouTube channel and the moment and don’t know when I’ll have to time to come back and fix the issues on my website – it’s a large undertaking. Sorry…

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