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(Drafting) Dress Pattern #2: Information

Instructions for Drafting This Pattern

The information covering how to draft this sewing pattern is contained on a number of pages – see the menu – these pages these follow on from in each in the menu order. The page you are currently on contains just the description of the garment.

Note on Drafting Patterns

You can follow along and practice patternmaking using free Third Scale Blocks, or you can draft the pattern full size for yourself. If you do not have a custom block, you can find instructions for how to draft them here: Drafting Blocks.   How to take measurements are covered on these pages: Measuring for Blocks. If you would prefer to buy a set of Standard Blocks or Slopers, you can buy them on the Purchasing Blocks pages.  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. Description
  • Sleeveless dress with high scoop neckline.
  • Classic Empire Line; slope from front to back.
  • Pleated flared skirt.
  • Fully lined.
To see what this dress looked like in real life, see at the bottom of the page. Note: This dress may look very similar to Dress 001 in the Concept images, but there are various differences which can be more clearly seen in the Flats and the Pattern Pieces images:
  • different skirts (skirt in dress 001 is more of a circle skirt, dress 002 has pleats in the waist, hem area very different)
  • different waistbands (dress 001 has a square waistband, dress 002 has fitted Empire Line styling)
  • difference in darts/dart equivalents (dress 001 has gathering, all dart value in waist, dress 002 has darts in side seam and waist)
  • obvious difference in neckline

Flat & Details

  • Bodice front has darts in the side seam and under bust (to empire line).
  • Bodice back has dart in waist as per the empire line.
  • Front neckline depth 4-in (10cm).
  • Back has a boat neckline with a depth of 1.75-in (4.5cm).
  • Waistband is an Empire line curve: 4-inches (10cm) wide at CF, 3,13-inches (8cm) at side seam, 2.75-inches (7cm) at CB.
  • Waistband has 2-inches ease.
  • Invisible zip in CB.
  • 3 x 2-inch (5cm) pleats in Skirt Front waistband
  • 3 x 2.75-inch (7cm) pleats in Skirt Back waistband.
  • Total hem: 78 inches (198cm).
  • Fully lined.
  • Interfacing on the lining of the waistband, and part of the front and back lining

Block/s used

I will use the separate Bodice Blocks and Skirt Blocks (rather than a Dress Block, for example). I am actually going to use the Sleeveless Bodice Blocks (2-Dart Block Front), as this block already has 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 personalised 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 personalised 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 there will be
  • listing the pattern pieces
  • making notes on what needs to be done for each pattern piece, or groups of pattern pieces where you need to make a change, i.e. if the facing is standard facing, my POA I would list it as a pattern piece, but no notes would be required.
  • doing any necessary calculations (e.g. how much needs to be added onto each pattern piece at the hem area)
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 and interfacing. There are 10 Pattern Pieces for Dress 002.  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. Midriff Front (also for lining & interfacing)
  3. Skirt Front
  4. Bodice Back
  5. Midriff 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.  These notes are made only for the pattern pieces that require some extra work. Remember I am using my Sleeveless Bodice Blocks.  If you were using your Standard Blocks you would need to reduce the block width and do armhole contouring.

Bodice Front

In the image for the POA Bodice I have removed the label (the block name, etc) and the contour markings that aren’t relevant so that it is easier to see the essential information.

 I will outline first what I will be doing, then indicate these on the image below.

  • As I have very large side seam dart, and this design has a waistline seam, I am going to move a bit of the side seam dart to the waist.
  • Moving some of the side seam dart into the waist will actually make the waist dart at the Empire Line level very large, but as I plan on having 2-inches ease the under-bust level  that will reduce the size of the waist dart.  (Note that if I wanted to keep it close fitting with only 1 inch ease, I would reduce the large waist dart by taking some off the side seam).
  • Although the neckline isn’t low, it will still result in a bit of a gape dart and require contouring.

Image: Bodice

  • (A) is the original block.
  • In (B),  some the side seam dart has been pivoted into the waist.  The yellow is the block after the pivoting has been done; it is superimposed on the original block so you can see the difference.
  • (C)  has the neckline drawn with a dashed blue line. The blue shading shows the gape dart amount that needs to be moved into one of the other darts.  I will be moving it into the waist dart.
  • (D) shows the final shape, after the gape dart is moved into the waist.  The pink lines show the waist dart redrawn to add extra ease into the under-bust line.
Note:  In this image I have done the two dart manipulations (side seam and gape dart) in separate steps, however the pivoting of these two darts could be done in one step.  They are shown separately here for clarity. Note 2: The midriff pattern piece will obviously have to be created to match the Bodice (ie. extra ease in the under-bust line).


  • The Skirt Front has three pleats, 2.5cm wide, requiring 5cm extra width per pleats, total 15cm
  • The Skirt Back has three pleats, 3.5cm wide, requiring 7cm extra width per pleat, total 21cm
In the image below shows the pleats for the Skirt Front. (The Skirt Back is not shown). This second skirt image shows how the the skirt will be created.  The additional width for pleats is the 15cm required, less 4cm dart value  Therefore the extension will be 11cm. A similar calculation is required for the Skirt Back. I will require an extension of 15.5cm for my Skirt Back.


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 shaded green pieces in How Many Pattern Pieces image near the top of the page. If you did not want the dress fully lined, these interfacing pattern pieces could also be used for facing as well as interfacing. This shows the original concept drawing, the final garment on a mannequin, and a photo of me wearing the garment.


The waistband has 2 inches ease, so initially I thought the dress was a bit loose in the waist and that I should have made it more fitting.  However, I find that when wearing it all day and if sitting for a long time, this extra ease is needed. Credit for the Stock Photo I used to create the Vector Croquis on this page: Arturkurjan from 123 RF Stock Photos: Copyright:  arturkurjan / 123RF Stock Photo

2 Responses

  1. Hello Olga

    The only booklets I currently sell as for drafting the Bodice Block and the Pants Block. They are on my Ko-Fi shop:

    I will be publishing some booklets for dresses towards the end of the year (October onwards…) after I finish the video series titled Variations on a Silhouette. I have only made the first video so far (the second one will be out next week).

    You can see the styles of dresses I will be creating booklets for here:


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