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(Drafting) Dress Pattern #1: Step-by-Step Instructions

This is the list of the 10 pattern pieces that I will be drafting in the step-by-step instructions below.
  1. Bodice Front
  2. Waistband Front
  3. Skirt Front
  4. Bodice Back
  5. Waistband Back
  6. Skirt Back
  7. Skirt Lining Front
  8. Skirt Lining Back
  9. Bodice Front Interfacing
  10. Bodice Back Interfacing

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 1

Bodice Front & Back

  • Draw your low neckline on the Front and Back Bodice blocks
  • Take into account the shoulder contouring (both front and back).
  • Check the flow-through from front to back.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 2

  • On the Bodice Front, measure from the CF waist to the under-bust line – from A to B, and note that measurement (X).
  • Measure up from the side waist of the Bodice Front (from C to D) for the value of x.
  • Measure up from the side waist of the Bodice Back (From E to F) for the value of x.
  • Measure up from the CB waist of the Bodice Back (From G to H) for the value of x.
  • Redraw the under-bust line (dashed red lines in image).
If you are unsure how to redraw the under-bust line:
  • Bodice Front: Draw a line from B to where the original dart leg touches the bust mound circle (M).  Draw a line from where the other original dart leg touches the bust mound circle (N) to D.a
  • Bodice Back:  Draw a line from H at right angles to the CB line, until it touches the original dart line (J).  Measure from the waist to that point (I to J).  Measure up from K to L for the same value as I to J.  Then draw a line from L to F.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 3

  • Trace/transfer the pattern information from the block to paper – in Figure 3 the relevant information is shown with yellow shading.
  • Remember to mark the gape dart value for the Bodice Front.
  • Mark the Bust Point as this is needed to move the gape dart.
  • Mark the dart legs; even though the under-bust will be gathered, the dart legs are needed for moving the gape dart.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 4

This image shows just the Bodice Front and making adjustments for the gape dart; the Back Back reappears in the next image.
  • Draw lines from the Bust Point to the two gape dart marks
  • Cut along the left gape dart line from the neck to the Bust Point
  • Close the gape dart – this will open up the waist dart a little.
  • True the neckline.
The original shape, before the dart was closed, is shown in faint yellow underneath the white pattern piece for comparison.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 5

We will now finish off these two pattern pieces (Bodice Front, PP#1, and Bodice Back PP#4).
  • Mark the limits of the gathering – your preference.
  • Add seam allowance.  You can choose to add the same amount to all seams (usually 0.58-inch or 1.5cm) or less ot the neckline and armhole (shown by dashed red line in the image; 0.38-inch or 1.0 cm).
  • Label the pattern pieces (Bodice Front/Bodice Back).
  • Draw the grainline.
  • Note the cutting instructions.
  • Number the pattern pieces.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 6

  • Trace the interfacing pieces from the Bodice Front and Bodice Back.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 7

To create the waistband you need to measure your under-bust and add some ease.

Note: you could measure the Front & Back Bodice Blocks along the under-bust lines and add them together, etc  – if you do this, remember to use your original EL markings with the wider dart.   You could also create the F&B Waistbands separately based on the measurements on the under-bust of the block, but I am not going to do that.  For me it won’t make that much difference.

  • Measure your under-bust.
  • Add however much ease you prefer – I added 1.5 inches.
  • Divide the total by 4.
This final total is the length of the waistband for both the F&B Waistbands.  The reason why we separate pieces although they are the same measurement is that the Back Waistband will have seam allowance on all sides (seam allowance at CB), but the Front Waistband will not have seam allowance at the CF – it will be cut on the fold. My calculation is:  32.25 + 1.5 in ease = 33.75 inches.  Divided by 4 = 8.5 inches.   Both my F&B Waistbands will be 8.5 inches long and 3.13 inches wide.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 8

The waistbands are just a rectangle with seam allowance added.  My waistband is 8.5 inches long and 3 inches wide.
  • Seam allowance is added to all side of the Back Waistband.
  • Seam allowance is not added to the CF of the Front Waistband.
  • Mark cutting instructions, grainline, label and number pattern pieces, etc.
If you want the straight grain to go the length of the waistband, you may have to create one piece instead of cutting on the fold. (This will depend on how you fold you fabric of course).

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 9

I will use the 2-Dart Skirt and cut and spread to get the hem I want – which is 110 inches (give or take, as I am making the dress for myself I don’t have to be exact).  Given how much ease there is in this skirt, I will use the Front Skirt Block to create the pattern piece for both front and back.  Like the waistband, the only difference between the Skirt Front and Skirt Back will be that the back needs a seam, whereas the front is cut on the fold. You may need to look at the Flared Skirt under the Elements/Skirts Menu for the details on on how to create a flared skirt with your 2-Dart Block.  A basic summary is: trace your two dart block, divide it in three as per the darts, and have the pieces ready to cut and spread.
  • Draw a vertical line from A to B and a horizontal line from B to C.
  • Place your Skirt with the darts closed so that the skirt waist touches both the vertical line and the horizontal line ( from D to E in the image, indicated by the blue arrow).

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 10

The waist will need to be made larger to fit the waistband.
  • Using a curved ruler, redraw the waist curve a little lower (F to G) than the original curve (D to E), measuring to make it the same length as the waistband.  (In my case 8.5 inches).

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 11

  • From F, measure down the vertical line for the length of the skirt including the hem.  (The length of my skirt including the hem is 25 inches).
  • Draw another line from the waist point G, the length of the skirt + hem, so that you get the required skirt hem sweep – i.e. quarter of the total of the hem.  In my case, 27.5 inches.
  • Draw the shape of the skirt (shown in green shading).

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 12

  • The final skirt shape (for both front and back) is shown in green, the yellow shape on top is the lining.  See Figure 13 for the four pattern pieces.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 13

  • The Skirt Front and Lining Front are cut on the fold and so do not need seam allowance on the CF.
  • The Skirt Back and Lining Back need seam allowance for the back seam with zip.

Instructions Dress 001 – Figure 14

Here are our final ten pattern pieces.

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