Drafting the Sleeveless Bodice

How to Draft the Sleeveless Bodice Block Front

We will use the Bodice Front block to create the Sleeveless Bodice Front block.  We will first shave 0.38 inch off the shoulder, raise the armhole, reduce the ease at the armhole, then note the contour markings. You will need some kind of weights, if not patternmaking weights then something heavy enough to stop the block from moving while you are transferring marks or drawing on the block without getting in the way and obstructing your work. Note that the letters (A, B, C…. etc) that are given marked on the images are to assist the explanation. They do not need to be written on your cardboard; where relevant you need to make a mark. Your block should have holes pierced through the Bust Point and Dart Points so that these can be marked on the block beneath.

Figure 1: Sleeveless Block Front

  1. Measure along the shoulder line, up from the shoulder tip A, for 0.38-inch.  This is the new shoulder tip, mark it B.  Mark this point on the block itself.
  2. Along the side seam line, measure from points C to D; the underarm point to the first dart leg.  Then measure from points E to F; from the second dart leg to the waist.  Add these two measurements together; this is the side seam length. Note this measurement down.
  3. Draw a line across the block from point C to the Center Front line.  This line needs to be at right angles to the CF line.

Figure 2: Sleeveless Block Front

From now we are starting to trace the block, and sometimes we will need to take our hands off and have the block stay in place.  You will need a patternmaking weight, or something else suitable that is heavy enough but won’t obstruct your work.
  1. Trace around the block from point B to the neckline and continuing around the block until you reach point F, the side seam waist point.
  2. Mark the dart leg points at the waist.
  3. Put the pencil-tip through the holes of the Bust Point and Dart Points to mark these on the cardboard beneath.

Figure 3: Sleeveless Block Front

  1. Measure 0.5-inch from C, along the guide-line that runs from C to the Center Front line, then measure up 0.38-inch.  Mark this point H.
  2. Using the total side seam measurement taken previously, draw a line that length from C, along the C~D line, then continuing. i.e. the side seam as a continuation of the C~D line.  Mark the end point G.  You could use a weight to keep the block in place, or you could alternatively trace the block from C to D, then remove the block and then draw the line. (Taking care to put your block back exactly when you have finished).

Figure 4: Sleeveless Block Front

  1. Draw a line from H to G – some of this line will be drawn across the Bodice block, some on the cardboard underneath. We DO want this line drawn on the block, so use a weight to keep the block in place while you do this.
  2. Measure along the top dart leg from point D to where the H~G line crosses the dart leg (point I).
  3. Measure along the bottom dart leg from point D, for the same distance as above (D~I) and mark point J.  (It is important to mark the exact points rather than label it with a letter).
  4. Using an awl or a very sharp implement, pierce the block at points I and J so that they show up on the cardboard underneath.

Important Note: The line H~G is the new side seam length. As we raised the armhole, the side seam length changed.  Measure this at some point and make a note; you will need it when making the Sleeveless Bodice Back.

Figure 5: Sleeveless Block Front

Remove the block and put it aside; we don’t need it anymore.  What you should have on the cardboard underneath (marks for the sleeveless block) should look like the image below.  You may not have the letters, but you should have the points:  H, I, J and the Bust Point and Dart Points. (All marked with red circles on the image).

Figure 6: Sleeveless Block Front

We will finish drawing the outline of the block:
  1. Draw the new side seam line/s from H to I, and from J to F.
  2. Draw a new armhole curve from B to H.
  3. Draw the two darts.
  4. If you are unsure of how to finish off the side seam dart see the article: Finishing off Darts.

Figure 7: Sleeveless Block Front – Contour Markings

The Sleeveless Block Front is finished (after you label it, mark the CF, etc..) , but now you should complete it by placing the Contour Markings.   First you will need to understand the concept of Contouring, and you also need to work out how much contouring your individual body requires.  All this information is in the Contouring Menu in the Principles Page; please read those pages first.
  • Using your Bust Radius and a compass, draw a circle with the Bust Point as the center, and the bust radius as the radius of the circle.

Figure 8: Sleeveless Block Front – Armhole ease not needed

Note that if you use your standard Bodice Block (Sleeve), then you will need to add a armhole ease gape dart.  You should not need this as we raised the armhole .38-inch, and this achieves the same result.  It is possible that you may need a little more, in which case you would determine this when making your toile and working out what gape darts are necessary for your body.

Figure 9: Sleeveless Block Front – Contour Markings, Armhole, Neckline & Between Bust

Mark your armhole, neckline and between-bust gape darts as shown. For the armhole and neckline darts, the widest part of the gape dart is on the bust radius, for the between-bust gape dart, it is at the Center Front. (This is covered in detail the Contouring Section of the Principles Pages, this is just an example of how those markings are placed on your Sleeveless Block).

Figure 10: Sleeveless Block Front – Contour Markings, Empire Line

This image shows the Empire Line contouring marks, including the placement of the under-bust design line.  In this case, because the difference between the bust and under-bust is very large, some of the dart has been put into the side seam.


  • Make sure to check the side seam lengths when both Front & Back are finished.
  • Since you have redrawn the armhole, you need to check the flow-through of the armhole against the Bodice Back.
  • Pierce holes in in relevant places so that these markings can be transferred when making patterns.

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