Dress Pattern #1

The information on Dress Pattern 1 that used to be on a number of pages are now consolidated in this one page.  This first section contains general information.

Click on the link to go directly to the other sections:

General Information

Third Scale Blocks for Practice

You can follow along and practice patternmaking using free Third Scale Blocks, or you can draft the pattern full size for yourself.

Making Your Own Custom Block

If you do not have a custom block, you can find video instructions for how to draft them here: Drafting Blocks.   How to take measurements are covered in the videos.   You can buy the accompanying booklet from my Books Ko-Fi Shop.

Buying (Standard) Blocks

If you would prefer to buy a set of Standard Blocks or Slopers, you can buy them from my Blocks Ko-Fi Shop Bodice Blocks are $12, Skirt Blocks are $5, Pants Blocks $8 and a Complete Set costs $20.00.  These blocks come in sizes 6 – 22, and you can find a comprehensive list of the measurements for each size in the Measurements for Downloadable Blocks page.

Important! I recommend you buy the standard blocks ONLY if your measurements match the measurements given CLOSELY.  I do not give assistance on adjusting blocks. If you have a non-standard body I recommend you draft your own block with your own measurements.

My Ko-Fi Shops

I have 2 Ko-Fi shops; from one I sell my Downloadable PDF Booklets, and from the other I sell the Standard Blocks.

Description: Dress 1

  • Sleeveless dress with sweetheart neckline.
  • Empire line* with 8cm waistband under bust.
  • Flared skirt.
  • Fully lined.

To see what this dress looked like in real life, see Outcome & Notes further down the page

* This dress is a Empire Line as it has a cut just under the bust, but it is not the Classic Empire Line; the waistband is not fitting and it does not have a slope from front to back.

Flat & Details

  • The full dart value on the Bodice Front is in the waist, converted to gathers.
  • The Bodice Back waist dart value is also converted to gathers.
  • Front neckline depth is  5-in (13cm).
  • The back has a boat neckline with a depth of 3-in (8cm).
  • Wide waistband –  3 in (8 cm).
  • Waistband is square (same width at bodice edge and skirt edge), making the dress loose in the waist.
  • Invisible zip in CB; 20 inches (50cm) long.
  • Flared skirt; the hem width = 110 inches (280 cm).
  • Fully lined.
  • Interfacing on the lining of the waistband, front and back bodice.

Blocks Used

I am using the Sleeveless Bodice Blocks (1-Dart Block Front), instead of the standard Bodice Blocks because they have the width of the block reduced, the armhole raised a little, and the back shoulder dart removed.  I am using the 2-Dart Skirt Block to make the flared skirt.

My Sleeveless Bodice Blocks also already have the Empire Line markings noted.  Instructions on how to do this are found under the Elements Menu > Stylelines pages, click on this link to go to the Empire Line page.

I am showing my personalized blocks rather than the standard size 14 that I use for general instructions; this is the actual block I used to create my pattern, as I am creating the dress for myself (as with all my patterns).

For instructions on how to create personalized blocks to fit your individual figures, see the relevant pages under the Making Block Menu –  Making the Bodice Block Set and Making the Skirt Block Set.

Third Scale Blocks are available for download, so you can follow along and practice patternmaking theory without making the pattern full-size. Click on the link provided to be taken to the Third Scale Blocks page.  Before trying to make these patterns, even third scale, you should have a good understanding of the theory in the Principles Pages on this website.

Plan of Action

If you are just starting out making your own patterns, it helps to first outline a Plan of Action rather than just diving in.  The plan of action consists of looking at the Flat and any specification and making notes about what needs to be done, such as:

  • determining many pattern pieces the design requires
  • listing the pattern pieces
  • making notes on what needs to be done for each pattern piece, or groups of pattern pieces (where relevant)
  • doing any necessary calculations (e.g. how much needs to be added onto each pattern piece at the hem area)

Basically, you want to make sure you study the design and have everything you need to do laid out so that you don’t overlook or forget anything.

You then refer to these notes when creating the pattern pieces.

My plan of action may be helpful if you are following along; you can see an overview of what I am planning to do.

How many pattern pieces?

The Flat gives the necessary information for the external pieces, but you also need to think about the  internal pieces such as lining,  facing, interfacing etc.

There are 10 Pattern Pieces for Dress 001.  As it is fully lined, some pieces are the same for the fabric and the lining, and in the case of the waistband, the same for the fabric, lining and interfacing.   The skirts lining is the same as the fabric with one difference; the lining is about 3 inches shorter than the fabric.  For this reason I’m making separate pattern pieces for that lining.

  1. Bodice Front
  2. Waistband Front (also for lining & interfacing)
  3. Skirt Front
  4. Bodice Back
  5. Waistband Back (also for lining and interfacing)
  6. Skirt Back
  7. Skirt Lining Front
  8. Skirt Lining Back
  9. Bodice Front Interfacing
  10. Bodice Back Interfacing

Notes/Plan of Action for creating Pattern Pieces

Now in this section keep in mind that I’m walking through my thinking process.  Although I am showing you images; these actions generally haven’t happened – they are just in my head at the moment. I’m showing you  the images so that the points make sense.


Although the is an Empire Line on this dress, it is not the standard Empire for which I have markings on the block; I will have to make some changes.

In the image for the POA Bodice I have removed the contour markings that aren’t relevant so that it is easier to see the essential information.

First I will make my notes of what I need to change, then below I will go through how I’ve indicated this on the image.

  • Make changes to the Empire Line markings to attach square waistband (rather than shaped midriff).
  • The low front neck requires contouring.
  • Sleeveless: if using basic Bodice Block, need to make adjustments. (Not relevant for me but if you were using your basic Bodice Block you would need to make these adjustments also).

Refer to the image:

  • The green lines in the blocks at the top of the image show the standard empire line marks.
  • The red lines in the blocks at the bottom show the changed EL markings, to attach a square waistband rather than the sloping and close fitting Empire Line midriff.
  • The blue shaded portions on the bottom blocks shows the gape darts that needs to be moved into the waist dart.

Now you may be wondering why I have two different circles indicating my bust mound on my block.  The larger circle is my actual bust mound and I use this for a loose fitting garment.  The smaller one results in a higher tighter EL style.  I decided to go for a closer fit with this dress, and my using the smaller circle.


The waistband is square, i.e. the same width at the waist level as it is at the under-bust level.  It  is 3 inches (8cm) wide.

  • Need to measure the block at the under-bust/Empire Line level and add some ease to get the width of the waistband.
  • Will need to make an adjustment to my skirt to increase the waist measurement so that it is the same measurement as the waistband.


  • Need to increase the waist measurement to match the waistband measurement.
  • Need to create a flared skirt from my skirt block, with a hem area of 110 inches (280 cm).
  • The lining is the same as the skirt but shorter – as shown by the orange shading in the Pattern Pieces image at the top of the page.


I do not want (or need) interfacing on the whole Bodice Front and Bodice Back lining pieces – I will create the interfacing pattern pieces as I would facing, as shown by the orange shading in the Pattern Pieces image at the top of the page.

Outcome & Notes

This shows the original concept drawing, plus the final garment.  If you scroll down further, there are also some notes on how I would make this dress differently if I were to remake it.

Credit for the Stock Photo I used to create the Vector Croquis on this page:

Andersonrise from 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright: andersonrise / 123RF Stock Photo

Step-by-Step Instructions: Dress 1

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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