How to Draft the Bodice Back (Superceded, Archived)

Final Bodice Back, Size 14

These are the step-by-step instructions for drafting the Bodice Back Block.  This back block can be used with either the 2-Dart Bodice Front or the 1-Dart Bodice Front.

Example – Finished Bodice Back

This first image is what the block looks like at the end of the step-by-step instructions below, using the measurements specified on the page that has the General Information.   The shape of yours may end up looking quite different.

Comparison: My Bodice Block Back

This is what my block, using my personal measurements, looks like.   Your block may end up being slightly or significantly different to the example block.  My Bodice Block Front looks very different to the example, but my Bodice Back looks very similar. The main difference is the shoulder slope, as I have squarer shoulders than the norm.

Maria's Bodice Back for comparison

Bodice Back Figure 1

Draw a rectangle:

  1. Height of rectangle: From A up to B = Full Length Back.
  2. Width of rectangle: From B across to C = (Upper Bust ÷ 4) + 1.25 inches ease
  3. Complete the rectangle – making sure all angles are squared.
  4. Label the points A, B, C & D as shown.

See article: Why Upper Bust rather than Bust?

(For this example: Height = 17.37 inches, Width = 8.5 + 1.5 = 10 inches)

Plotting the Full Length Back and Upper Bust measurement points

Bodice Back Figure 2

  1. Center Back Length: Measure up from A, on the A~B line.  Draw a line a few inches long inwards.  Label this line E.
  2. Across Shoulder Length: Measure across from B, on the B~C line.  Draw a line downwards about 4 inches long.  Label this line F.

(For this example: Center Back Length = 16.63, Across Shoulder = 7.75 inches)

Plotting the points to mark the Center Back Length and the Across Shoulder measurement
Bodice Back: Figure 2

Bodice Back Figure 3

  1. Back Neck: Measure across from B, on the B~C line.  Label this point G.  From G square a line downwards a few inches long.
  2. Shoulder Slope Back: Measure from A towards the line F so that it touches the line.  Label this point H.

(For this example: the measurements are: Back Neck = 3.06 inches, Shoulder Slope Back = 17.25 inches)

Plotting the points for the Shoulder Slope and the Back Neck measurement

Bodice Back Figure 4

  1. Shoulder Length + 0.5″ (for dart): Measure from G to touch and pass point H.  Label the end point I.
  2. Place a mark at the halfway point of the Shoulder Length.  This will be the center of the dart (in Step 10).  Mark this mid-shoulder point J.
  3. Work out the Center Front to Side Seam measurement: Add the Waist Arc + (1.5 inches for the dart) + (0.25 inches for ease). Use the total measurement in the next step.
  4. Center Front to Side Seam: Measure from A, on the A~B line.  At this point measure down 3/16″ at right angles from A~D. Label this point K.

(For this example: Shoulder Length = 5.08 inches + 0.5 dart = 5.58 inches, halfway = 2.79 inches, Waist Arc = 7 inches, therefore Center Back to Side Seam = 7 + 1.5 + 0.25 = 8.75 inches)

Marking the shoulder half-way point and waist measurement

Bodice Back Figure 5

  1. Side Seam Length: Measure from K to meet the D~C line.  Mark this point L.  Draw a line at right angles to the K~L line; this will assist in drawing the armhole.
  2. Work out the Placement of the Across Back line: 1/4 of the Center Back measurement (from A to the line E). Measure down from the line E and label this point M.
  3. Across Back + 0.25″ ease:  Measure from point M, and mark the end point N.

(For this example the measurements are:  Side Length = 8.06 inches, Across Back Placement = 16.63 ÷ 4 = 4.15 inches down from line E.  Across Back = 7.25 + 0.25 ease = 7.5 in)

Marking the Across Back Placement, the Across Back Measurement and the Side Length point

Bodice Back Figure 6

Draw the neckline and the armhole

  1. Neckline Curve: Using a French Ruler, draw the neckline to touch point G and the CB Neckline (where the line E begins on the A~B line).
  2. Armhole Curve: Using a French ruler, draw the armhole curve to touch points I, N & L.  Do not be below the line at right angles to the K~L line.

(With some curves, you may need to draw part of it, move the French Curve and draw another, then blend the two lines together)

Drawing in the neckline and armhole curves

Bodice Back Figure 7

  1. Dart Placement: Measure from A, on the A~D line, label with an O where the Waist Dart begins.
  2. Dart Width:  From O, measure a 1.5-inch dart and label the end point P.
  3. Mark the center of the dart (midway between O & P).
  4. Dart: Draw a (dashed) line upwards from the dart center.  The length of the line = Side Seam Length + 0.5 inch. Label the Dart Point Q.

(For this example: Dart Placement = 2.88 inches, Dart Length = 8.56 inches)

Marking the waist dart placement and length

Bodice Back Figure 8

Draw the dart legs:

  1. Draw lines from Q to O and from Q to P.  Extend both these lines down 1/8 inch below the waistline.  We will refer to the end points of these lines (at 1/8″ below the waist line) as O & P from now on.
  2. Extend the mid-dart line down below the waist level about .75 inch.

Drawing in the waist darts

Bodice Back Figure 9

Draw the Waist Curve:

  1. Draw a curved line from A to O and continue that curve until it meets the mid-dart line.
  2. Draw the same but reflected curve (from the mid-dart line) to meet point P.
  3. Draw a curve from P to K to complete the waist curve.

(Note: When the dart is closed, you should have a smooth curve.  See the article Curving the Waist.)

Curving the waist

Bodice Back Figure 10

  1. Draw a (dashed) line from J to Q.  This is a guide-line only.
  2. Shoulder Dart: Measure a dart 3 inches in length from J on the J~Q guideline.  Label this shoulder dart point R.

Shoulder dart placement and length

Bodice Back Figure 11

  1. Shoulder Dart:  On the G~I line, create a dart with J as the center.  The width of the dart will be 0.5 inches for smaller sizes, and 0.63 inch for bust sizes larger than 38 inches.
  2. Label the dart edges with S and T as shown.

(For this example: Dart Width = 0.5 inches. )

Marking the shoulder dart width

Bodice Back Figure 12

Complete the shoulder dart and the shoulder line:

  1. Draw a dart leg from the dart point R through S and 1/8 past the G~I line.  Mark this point U.
  2. Measure the length of the dart leg R~U and draw the dart leg from R through T to be the same length.  Label the end point V.
  3. Extend the mid-dart line up by 1/2″ or so above the G~HI line and mark it W.
  4. Draw a line from the shoulder tip point I to V and continue until it touches the W line.
  5. Draw a line from W to U.
  6. Complete the shoulder line by drawing a line from U to G.

Finishing off the shoulder line

Your Bodice Back is finished!

You can now:

  1. Label the block.
  2. Cut the shape out of the cardboard.
  3. Mark the Dart Points, using an awl or another sharp implement to punch a hole through the cardboard.
  4. Notch the dart legs.

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.

Labelling and notching the block


  • 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.


8 Responses

  1. Hi

    How do I go about correcting the block if the shoulders and side seams aren’t the same length?

    Also, than you so much for all of the info and tutorials you have created. This is the 4th source that I’ve used to try and create my block and I finally think that I have found a method that works for me. 🙂

  2. Hi there,

    OK, so let’s take the Shoulder Seam as an example.

    If it’s only a fraction out….
    If the Front and Back shoulder lengths don’t match, then check your measurements (what you used to draft the Block), and determine which block is correct – the Front or the Back. If the Front is correct, then match the back to the Front, if the Back is correct, match the Front to the Back.

    If they are both incorrect, or if there is a really large difference, you should go back and fix your initial mistakes, because you won’t know if you have to reduce/increase them from the neck edge or the shoulder edge.

    Hope your block works out, and let me know if you have problems.


  3. Hello. Thanks alot for your kindness to post with details to every articles to help us, beginners ??

    Want to know, in back bodice waist measurement we include the dart width in the calculation, but why not in the front bodice waist measurement? And if I use the same waist dart width for 2-darts bodice front and back, is there any problem?

  4. Hi there Carolin,

    The instructions are a bit different for the front because there is more than one way of doing things.

    There is no reason you have to have exactly the same dart value for the front waist dart and the back waist dart. If you want to do it and it works, go for it, but it’s not a big deal and it’s not essential if they aren’t. (I have a 1.5 inch dart in the back waist and a 2 inch dart in the front waist).

    Keep in mind that when you take some off the side seam that is in itself a dart; there is no reason you can’t distribute some of the value of the waist darts into the side seam, i.e. darts can be manipulated, which is one of the principles of patternmaking.

    So let me ask you 2 questions:
    (1) Why do you want the front and back darts to be exactly the same width/value?
    (2) What happened when you followed my instructions for the Bodice Front? What dart value did you end up with?


  5. Hello thank you for your very informative explanation here.
    When I draft pattern for my body measurement with both front and back length upto waist as the same measurement eg 15 inches from the shoulder I end up getting my toil an incu lower at the back than the front. How do I correct it also matching the side seams for both front and the back

  6. Hi Monika,

    My apologies but I don’t understand the question. You use the same side seam length measurement when drafting the front and the back, therefore the side seams must match.

    Could you provide a little more detail?

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