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(Drafting) Dress Pattern #3: 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.


  • Sleeveless Princess line dress
  • Flared skirt
  • Boat neckline with neckline pleat
  • Below the knee length

To see what this dress looked like in real life, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Flat & Details

  • Princess line running from armhole to hem.
  • Pleat darts in front neckline.
  • Side pieces (front and back) with high waistline seam.
  • Standard all-in-one facing on Bodice Front and Bodice Back.
  • Flare added to hem of each pattern piece. Total hem is 46 inches (117 cm)
  • Invisible zip in CB.

Block/s Used

This dress has a princess line seam running from armhole to hem, therefore I had planned on using the Extended Line Dress block.  However in the end I decided to use just the (Sleeveless) Bodice Block (i.e. I don’t need to use the Skirt Block).

I am using my personalized blocks in the instructions rather than the standard size 14 that I use for general instructions (e.g. in the Principles and Elements pages); since I am creating the garment for myself, I am using my blocks.  The Sleeveless block I use has my contour markings noted, although I only show the ones relevant to the pattern.

For instructions on how to create a personalized Bodice block to fit your individual figure, see the relevant pages under the Making Block Menu –  Making the Bodice 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 principles 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 certain pattern pieces, 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)
  • if you are using any ready-to-wear clothing for a reference, measuring and noting the measurements

I will write a list of the pattern pieces, but I won’t necessarily write notes on each and every pattern piece. For example;  if I am creating facing and it is standard facing, I don’t need to write any notes.  If you are just starting though, you may need to note the width of the facing at the side seam and CF/CB.  As you make more patterns, is is likely you will write less notes as you will have the information in your head.

In this case, I am using a ready-to-wear dress that I have with a princess line seam to refer to for the hem area.  The dress I am referring to is above-knee length, and my design is for a below-the-knee length, but I decided to use the same hem area because I find the reference-dress too full at the above-knee.  I think that fullness will work better at the below-knee level of the dress I am making.

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 8 Pattern Pieces for Dress 003; six main pieces and two internal pieces; both the front and back have all-in-one facing.

  1. Dress Center Front
  2. Bodice Side Front
  3. Side Skirt Front
  4. Dress Center Back
  5. Bodice Side Back
  6. Side Skirt Back
  7. Bodice Front Facing (and interfacing)
  8. Bodice Back Facing (and interfacing)

Notes/Plan of Action for creating Pattern Pieces

As mentioned at the beginning, I am referencing a ready-to-wear dress with a princess seam that has a flared skirt,  to get the hem area for my pattern.  I will not be replicating it exactly – I will be using it as a guide.

Dress Center Front (PP #1)

  • Note – don’t draw the Princess Line until after the dart manipulation!
  • Pivot some of the side seam dart into the neckline to create the neckline tuck dart.
  • Draw the princess line (after that the dart manipulation is done)
  • Dress length to be 24.25 inches (61 cm cm) below the knee
  • Hem area of this pattern piece:  8.25 inches (21 cm) – see the image Plan of Action Sketch.

I drew a rough sketch by hand of the design, something like in this image.  I then measured the hem area of the CF, Front Side, CB and Back Side of my reference garment, and wrote those measurements on my drawing.

At this stage, I decided that I would use the back measurements (of the reference garment), for both the front and back of my pattern. I also made other notes that related to other pattern pieces.

Dress Center Back (PP#4)

  • Referencing the ready-to-wear dress, I decided I want to go with the same CB width at the waist, which is 20cm, or 10cm for the half block. This means I have to move my back dart – see the image Plan of Action Back Dart.
  • Hem Area 16.5 inches (21 cm) (as per the details under the Center Front PP).

The image below is is to show why I want to move the back dart.  Important: this is for me, my block, my figure.  You may not need or want to move the back dart on your block.

The drawing to the left is what I want the dress to look like, the drawing to the right shows what the stylelines look like if I left my dart in it’s current place – though it is exaggerated to some extent to show the point.  I know this just from experience; the placement of the back dart (on my block) that works for waisted dresses (for me) doesn’t work so well for the Princess Line (for me).  See image 3 for how this is obvious on the block.

Bodice Side Front  & Bodice Side Back

  • The (waist) style line is 1.5-inches (4 cm) above the actual waist line.

Skirt Side Front & Skirt Side Back

  • Skirt length is 24.25 inches (61.75 cm) below the knee, but remember that the bodice piece begins 1.5-inches (4 cm) above the waist.
  • Skirt flare to begin at waist level.  I want the 1.5-inches (4cm) at the top of the skirt (which is a part of the bodice attached to the skirt) to go straight down.

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.


The fabric I used for this dress was viscose, and I had never sewn with viscose before this. I found that the dress was far looser than I expected.  The dress the very comfortable and lightweight and great for summer (despite being black).  With this viscose I didn’t need the lining that I do with the lightweight cottons I love (they are far too see-through!).

If making it again with viscose I would reduce the ease in the bust and waist, and I would also lower the neckline. Although it is lightweight, cool and comfortable, I feel that it is a bit frumpy.  It would definitely be better with a lower neckline and with a shorter length – just above the knee – but my problem is that at the moment I have swollen knees due to inflammatory arthritis, so I need that longer length.

This dress was based on a shop purchased garment that I liked, however that one was a winter dress made out of a heavier fabric.  I would try this again with a light winter wool but make it shorter to wear with tights and knee length boot.  (With tights my swollen knees are not so obvious).

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

Irina Bogolapova from 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright: kiraliffe / 123RF Stock Photo

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