This page contains my original instructions (2016) for drafting the Bodice Block. I have some YouTube videos dated March 2020 with these same instructions.
In early 2021 I revised my system and instructions. If you want to know the difference between the old and new instructions, watch the Bodice Block Essentials videos on the Dresspatternmaking YouTube Channel. Videos with my revised system are also on my YouTube Channel. They are dated May 2021 and there are 2 versions; Imperial and Metric.
I will not be putting up my new instructions in written format on my website, I will be instead be publishing a EPUB booklet in the same step-by-step format. I am hoping these EPUB booklets (Imperial and Metric versions) will be published early June 2021.
Below find my original (2016) instructions
These are the step-by step instructions for the Bodice Front. These instructions create a Two-Dart Bodice Front block: one dart in the side seam and one in the waist.
See the supplementary information in the Bodice Block menu for the measurements you need to draft this block, the measurements I use in this example, and other information you need to draft this block.
There is also an option to create a One-Dart Bodice Front - see the menu. It is unnecessary to create both from scratch. See the article: 1-Dart or 2-Dart Bodice Front? for more information.
Example - Finished Bodice Front
This first image is what the block looks like at the end of the step-by-step instructions below, using the measurements specified in the Example Measurements page - see the Bodice Block Instructions menu.
The shape of yours may end up looking quite different. See below for how my block differs in shape to this standard block.
Comparison: My Bodice Block Front
This is what my block, using my personal measurements, looks like. This is to show you that if the shape of your block ends up looking quite different to the one I am making, it doesn't matter (as long as you are using your correct measurements, of course!).
This is the point of making your own block: it will reflect what your body looks like.
Bodice Front Figure 1
Draw a rectangle:
- Height of rectangle: From A up to B = Full Length Front.
- Width of rectangle: From B across to C = (Upper Bust / 4) + 1.25* inches ease.
- Complete the rectangle - making sure all angles are squared.
- Label the points A, B, C & D as shown.
(For this example: Height = 17.5 inches, Width = 8.5 + 1.5 = 10 inches)
*As I have explained in various places on my website, this is the Upper Bust Ease. You will end up with about 5 inches ease at the armhole and approx 3 inches ease in the Bust.
Bodice Front Figure 2
- Draw a line to the left of the rectangle, parallel to the line D to C:
- A-Bust-Cup: 0.63 inches from the line D~C (between 0.63 & 0.87)
- B-Bust-Cup: 1.25 inches from the line D~C
- C-Bust-Cup: 1.88 inches from the line D~C
- D-Bust-Cup: 2.5 inches from the line D~C
- DD-Bust-Cup: 3.14 inches from the line D~C
- Label this line E as shown.
Important: Make sure you use the Bust Cup Sizes as they relate to patternmaking, not your bra size.
(For these instructions I will use the B-Cup line, so you will not see the other lines in the images from Step 3. However, YOU use the line relevant to your Bust Cup. You will end up with a bigger or smaller dart.)
Bodice Front Figure 3
- Centre Front Length: From A, on the A~B line, measure and mark the Centre Front Length measurement. At this point, draw a line (about 3 inches) inwards. Label this line F.
- Across Shoulder: From B, on the B~C line, mark the Across Shoulder measurement. At this point draw a line (about 4 inches) down. Label this line G.
(For this example, the measurements are: Centre Front Length = 14.52 inches, Across Shoulder = 7.63 inches).
Bodice Front Figure 4
- Shoulder Slope Measurement: Draw a line, measuring up from A to the line marked G. Label this point H.
- Shoulder Length: Draw a line, measuring up from point H to meet the line B~C. Label this point I.
- Neckline Guide: Draw a line from point I to meet the line F. Make sure the line is at right angles (squared) to the Shoulder Length Line.
- Write CF on the Centre Front line.
(For this example, the measurements are: Shoulder Slope = 17.31 inches, Shoulder Length = 5.08 inches).
Bodice Front Figure 5
- Front Armhole Depth Measurement: Measure down from C on the C~D line. Label this point J.
- Side Length Measurement: Draw a line, measuring from point J to meet the line E. Label this point K.
- Armhole Guide: Draw a line at right angles to the J~K line at the J~K intersection - about 2 or 3 inches long.
(For this example, the measurements are: Front Armhole Depth = 8.33 inches, Side Length = 8.06 inches).
Bodice Front Figure 6
- Bust Depth Measurement: Measure down from H on the Shoulder Slope Line (H~A) and mark this point with a cross or a dot.
- Bust Span Measurement: Measure the Bust Span from the Centre Front Line (A~B) at the level of the Bust Depth Point you just made. It may pass beyond the H~A line. This is the Bust Point; mark it with a circle. (You will pierce a hole through the cardboard at this Bust Point circle). You can also label it with BP if you wish.
(For this example, the measurements are: Bust Depth = 10.25 inches, Bust Span = 3.75 inches).
Bodice Front Figure 7
- Across Chest Placement: Measure the distance from the line F down to the BP line and divide this measurement by 3. Using this total, measure down from F and label the point L.
- Across Chest Measurement: Add 0.25 in to the Across Chest Measurement. Measuring across from L, at right angles to the CF line, and label the end point M.
(For this example, the measurements are: Across Chest Placement Point: @ 2.38 inches down from F, Across Chest = 6.76 + 0.25 = 7.01 inches).
Bodice Front Figure 8
- Draw the Neckline: Using a French Curve, draw a line from Point I to meet the line F at the CF line. The curve should go inwards about 1/8 inch from the straight line.
- Draw the Armhole: Using a French Curve, draw a line from H to J, touching at point M. You may need to move the French Curve and draw two lines, blending them together.
- Side Seam Dart Placement: Measure down from J and label the placement point N.
- Draw a line from N to the Bust Point.
(For this example, the measurements is: Side Seam Placement = 2.36 inches. See the Preliminary Information pages for details of where to place your side seam dart).
Bodice Front Figure 9
We are going to open up the side seam dart now, and for that, you need either (a) some tracing paper, or (b) a small piece of cardboard that will fit under the triangle shown. The image shows the tracing option and the tracing paper is yellow so it can be seen more easily.
- Tracing: Mark the points N, K & BP on the tracing paper, then (you can take the tracing paper off) use a ruler to draw the lines BP to N and N to K. Once you have drawn the lines, put the tracing paper back on and double-check that is is correct. On the tracing paper, label the point N as O and label the point K as P.
- Cardboard: Place a piece of cardboard underneath the block cardboard - so that is under the N ~ K ~ BP triangle. Using an awl, pierce through these three points to the cardboard below. Remove the cardboard and draw the triangle shown by the three puncture points. Cut out the triangle (being very accurate), and use this cardboard triangle instead of the tracing paper in the next step.
Bodice Front Figure 10
- Draw a line: underneath the D ~ A line, 3/16 inches underneath and parallel to it. This is indicated by a dashed blue line in the image. Label this line Q.
- Pivot the triangle: Using an awl or something sharp (so that it is held firmly), hold down the tracing paper at the Bust Point, and pivot the paper/triangle, until the bottom of the triangle - Point P - touches the line Q.
- Pierce Holes: Holding the paper firmly in place, move the awl and pierce holes through the tracing paper at points O & P.
Bodice Front Figure 11
- Remove the tracing paper.
- Draw lines from the BP and the (hole punched by the awl) point O. Label O on the cardboard (it was previously marked on the tracing paper, which has been taken off).
- Draw a line from Point N to the (hole punched by awl) point P. Label P on the cardboard.
- Draw a line straight down from the BP to the line Q. This mid-waist dart line should be at right angles to the line Q. Label the end of the mid-dart line R.
- Measure from CF on the line Q across to the point P. We need this measurement to work out the different between what we need for the block (waist measurement + ease) and what is there at the moment. THe superfluous amount will be removed either in a waist dart, or, if you have a small waist, most in the waist dart and the rest of the side seam.
Bodice Front Figure 12
- Work out the waist measurement needed for the block: (Waist Measurement + 1 inch ease) ÷ 4. In our example: ( 28 + 1) ÷ 4 = 7.25 inches.
- Measure from Q to P on the Q line. In our example: 9.93 inches ( 9 15/16 in).
- Calculate what is superfluous: 9.93 - 7.25 = 2.68 inches. (2 11/16 in)
If the amount left over is 1.75 inches or less, it is taken out in the waist dart. If it is more, then the waist dart should be 1.75 inches, and the rest is taken off the side seam.
In our example, because the remainder is 2.6 inches, the waist dart is 1.75 inches and the remainder, .85 inch, is taken off the side seam.
(For this example, the measurements are: Waist = 28 inches, Waist Arc = 7.25 inches, Q to P = 9.85 inches, superfluous = 2.68 inches. ).
Bodice Front Figure 13
- Label the Waist Dart points S & T on the line Q.
- Draw lines from the BP to S and the Bust Point to T. (The lines need to end on the Q line, not the A~D line).
- If you need to take some off the side seam, measure across from P on the line Q and label the point U. If you do not need to take any off the side seam, you can move to Figure 14. You will not need to mark points U or V on your block, you will continue labeling from point W.
- Draw a line from the new side seam from point U to O. This new line from U to O will be longer than the original P ~ O line. The original P ~O line is part of the side seam and it is the correct length, so we need to make an adjustment to the new time so that the side seam length stays true.
- Measure the original line P to O. Using this measurement, measure up on the U ~ O line and mark. It should fall a little short of O. Label this new point V.
Bodice Front Figure 14
- Redraw the line from the BP to V, making it the same length as BP to N.
- Measure the distance between the dart-width points N and O, and label the mid-point W.
- Draw a (dashed) line from BP through the point W and extend it out until it reaches the original side seam line (J to K).
- Draw the outline of the block:
- the centre front length A to the line F
- the neckline curve from F to I
- the shoulder length from I to H
- the armhole curve H to J
- the side seam from J to U through N and W and either O or V
- the waist curve from U to A through T, R & S.
For details on the drawing the waist curve, see the page Waist Curve.
Bodice Front Figure 15
The darts need to end some distance before the Bust Point. Referring to the table Placement of Dart Point from Bust Point (see the menu to the right):
- Measure from the Bust Point along the side seam mid-dart line (BP to W), and mark the Dart Point X. In this example, X is 0.88 inches from the BP.
- Draw the dart legs from X to N and X to V (or O if you did not need to take some off the side seam).
- Measure from the Bust Point, along the waist mid-dart line (BP to R), and label the Dart Point Y. In this example, Y is .75 inch from BP.
- Draw the dart legs from Y to S and from Y to T. Note that these two dart legs need te be the same length. If the line from the BP to the mid-dart point R is at right angles to the waistline, they should be identical. Check that they are the same.
Figure 16: Your Bodice Front is finished!
Your block is now finished. You can now:
- Label the block (e.g. Bodice Front, Size, Name, etc..).
- Cut out the block shape from the cardboard.
- Punch a hole through the cardboard at the Bust Point and both Dart Points, using an awl or another sharp implement.
- Notch the dart legs at both the waist and side seam.
- Mark the grainline.
- Mark the CF.
Note that the armhole notch will be marked after the sleeve is made: the notch point is made when creating the sleeve and is transferred to the bodice.
- Now create your Bodice Back.
- After you have made both Front & Back, check that the side seam and shoulder lengths match.
- You will also need to true the armhole and necklines curves: this is checking the flow through curves are smooth. See Terminology > Truing for an example.
- This Bodice Block is for garments with sleeves. Note that when making sleeveless garments, garments with cutaway armholes or low necklines, you will need to make adjustments. See the section on Contouring; if you have already marked the Bodice Block with contour markings, you can just transfer them to this block.
- You can download a summary (8 page PDF file) here. You may prefer to download this for printing to save paper. You can refer to these step-by-step instructions online if any steps on this summary need further explanation. This summary is best printed in color.
- You can download a 1-page Outline for reference also.