(Drafting) Top Pattern #1B: Step-by-Step Instructions

This top has only 3 pattern pieces:

  1. Bodice Front
  2. Bodice Back
  3. Button Placket Interfacing

The instructions are very similar to the instructions for Top-001A; I actually just made modifications to Top-001A when created the pattern for me, but in these instructions I will go through them from the beginning with the Torso Block.  This means that Figures 1-4 are the same as Top A except for the length.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 1

Bodice Front – Draw the Neckline & Armhole

  • Mark the depth of the neckline. The  is 2.95 inches | 7.5 cm.  This depth does not require a gape dart for me.
  • Mark in from the neck-point out on the shoulder line for 1.58 inches | 5 cm.
  • Measure the width of the shoulder strap: 2 inches | 5 cm.
  • Draw the neckline and the armhole, using a French curve. You may need to move the french curve and draw a couple of lines then blend them together.
  • When drawing the neckline, make sure you consider the flow-through for the whole-block (shown by the line on the transparent block)
  • Note that the length of the top is shorter than the Torso Block, it stops at 17cm below the waist.


  • The lines I am drawing on my blocks are thick and red for the purposes of illustration.  You should draw your lines in pencil; you can then erase them, or leave them there for reference.
  • If you prefer to keep your blocks clean, you could just trace the blocks onto paper and then draw the neckline on the paper.  Remember that you somehow need to check the flow through at the shoulders (see Image 2).

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 2

Bodice Back – Draw the Neckline & Armhole

Using the Bodice Front (lining it up against the shoulder of the Bodice Back)

  • Using the front block as a guide, mark the placement of the shoulders on the back block.
  • Draw the neckline and shoulder line, making sure there is a smooth flow-through from front to back.
  • Make sure the Back neckline will flow through the whole-block. (No dips or valleys at the CB; unless that’s the style you are aiming for!).

Again, you will need to use a French Curve to get a nice curve, and you may have to draw a couple of lines and blend them together.

Note that you may have to adjust your front neckline curve at this stage.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 3

Trace the Blocks and the Markings

  • Trace around the Bodice Front and Back onto paper, making sure you have/leave enough room to add seam allowance.
  • Make sure you have enough room to add the button extension to the CF (2.15 inches | 5.5cm)
  • Mark the side seam dart and dart points (you should have holes in the block at the Bust, Dart points, etc, so you can put a pencil in to mark the paper  underneath).
  • Mark the notch point on the Back side seam (matches the side seam dart on the front)
  • You will of course have to draw the curves of the armholes and necklines, and the hemline, after you remove the blocks.
  • The top length is shorter than the block: 176.68 inches | 17cm down from the waist

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 4

Fill in the details

  • Draw the side seam dart and waist dart legs
  • Draw the necklines and armholes with a French curve, using the same section as you did when you drew them on the block (you can check it against the design lines on the block).  Note that you could also have used a tracing wheel to trace the design line before moving the block; using a tracing wheel will weaken the block.
  • Mark the grainlines parallel to CF & CB

Instructions Top 001b – Figures 5a & 5b

Turning one waist dart into extra ease

Although in the step above I drew in the two waist darts, I have crossed out the smaller waist dart.  There are some notes about this further down the page.  Note that it is a better to draw in the dart, then cross it out, to remind yourself that you did consider it, but you decided to leave it out.

Adding the ease to the hemline

  • Mark out 1 inch | 2.5 cm from the hip-line at both front and back side-seams. (Figure 5a)

Redraw the side seam line by using your block

The block is shown semi-transparent in the image

  • First line the block up to the pattern so it matches at key points (not shown in the image)
  • Pivot the block from the side seam dart bottom leg (Front) and the side seam notch (Back), to touch the hem mark
  • Draw the new side seam using the edge of the block


You may have some questions about the following:

  • Why did I add ease in the hip, when doing it so exacerbated the problem of the measurement difference between the hips/waist?
  • Why did I leave out the second dart? (Short answer: the design calls for one dart, and putting all the excess into one dart is unfeasible in my case)
  • Why did I add the ease at the waist when I added the ease in the hip?

There are notes down the bottom of the page explaining this and other issues of this design and my figure. 

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 6

Button Extension

The with of the button extension is:   1.5cm (extension) + 3cm (to fold back under the extension and 1.5cm past the CF towards the side seam) + 1cm seam allowance = 5.5 cm

  • Measure out for 5.5cm from both the top and the bottom of the CF line (red arrows in the image).
  • Marking the key points – the extension at 1.5cm from CF (green arrow), and  the seam allowance at 4.5cm from CF (purple arrow).  Mark these on the bottom and at the top
  • See the next figure for a close up of these key points.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 7

This is just a close up of the Placket Extension measurements.

  • The green shaded area turns under, and the purple shaded area turns under again as the seam allowance.
  • The shaded dotted area shows you where the turned under section (green shaded) will end up when sewn.  The buttons will be sewn on the CF line.
  • The top of the button extension should theoretically have that small curve to the top shown by the double ended black arrows.  However, given that this will end up covered by the bias binding and will be trimmed back, it doesn’t matter.  I will just draw the button extension straight across.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 8

Add seam allowance to Pattern Piece #1 (Bodice Front) and PP#2 (Bodice Back)

  • Seam allowance has already been added to the Button Placket  (Figure 6)
  • Add 0.58 inch | 1.5cm seam allowance to the shoulder, the side seam and the hem. (I plan on overlocking (serging) the hem and turning it up 0.58 inch | 1.5cm; you could increase this to whatever hem depth you want).
  • DO NOT add any seam allowance to the neckline or armholes; they will be finished off with bias binding.
  • You can mark where the seam-line is for the neckline and armholes by drawing the stitching line 1cm in from the edge (shown by the blue dashed line on the Bodice Front), or just write something like ‘bias’ on the neckline and armhole edge to remind you. (So that you don’t decide to do something like add a facing instead, forgetting that there is no seam allowance for that.  This is the kind of trap you might fall into when making your own patterns).

The yellow shaded area is the original pattern, before adding seam allowance; you can see no seam allowance has been added to the neckline and armhole.   If this is not clear, see underneath Figure 7 for an photo of a garment finished off with bias binding, where the bias shows on the outside of the garment.  The width at the shoulder is 2 inches | 5cm, but that 2 inches INCLUDES the bias binding.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 9

Interfacing for the button placket.

  • This is just a rectangle piece that is 2.16 inches | 5.5cm wide (the button placket width) and  the length of the top, minus the hem. (I don’t want the extra bulk of the interfacing on the hem).
  • (Note that I often make it a little narrower – e.g. 1.96 inches | 5cm wide, to make sure it doesn’t peep past the placket).
  • I don’t create my interfacing pattern pieces out of paper or vilene; I use scraps of fabric.  See the explanation and an example in the Plan of Action.
  • On this rectangular piece of interfacing, which in my case is extremely lightweight, I will not bother to notch it.

Instructions Top 001b – Figure 10

The pattern is now finished; only 3 pieces

  • Make sure you mark the grainline.
  • Mark cutting instructions; Cut on Fold for Back, Cut 2 for the Front.. Cut 2 for interfacing.
  • Label and notch.
  • Cut out the pattern pieces.
  • After cutting out, make sure you walk the Front & Back pieces at the side seams and the shoulders; make any adjustments necessary. (e.g. if one side seam is slightly longer than the other, split the difference, etc).

Instructions Top 001b – Notes

This figure is just an explanation about the extra ease and overall silhouette of this garment.  Keep in mind I am making this to suit and fit my figure: there is a 13-inch difference between my hips and waist, and a difference of 8 inches between my Upper Bust and Hips.

Referring to Figures 5a & 5b:

  • When redrawing the side seam, more ease was added into the waist
  • I have also crossed out the second dart in Figures 5a and 5b.

The design of this garment has one dart in the waist.  If I add the small dart into the large dart I am going to have a dart that is just too large.  If I then also add the extra ease I gained adding to the side seam I am going to have an bigger (ridiculously big) dart (see B in Figure 6).   Drawing the side seam so there is no extra ease added is also not a good idea (A in Figure 6).

If I want a fitting garment, this style is not really going to do it for me without some distortion. I am better off creating designs with princess seams and/or empire lines; styles where the dart is incorporated into a design line.  Princess Line and Empire line designs are better for a closer fit for curvier figures.

This style – one dart in the side seam and one dart in the waist – works for me only as a loose fitting garment.  (I could also make it with two darts, but I’m still going to have a few problems, and the point of the exercise was to make a garment with one dart in the waist to explore the kind of issues you are going to face when making garments for individual figures).

You may then ask… why did I add 4 inches | 10cm ease to the hip?  If I already have large hips, why add more ease? That also meant I had to add that extra ease to the waist in Figure 5b.   There are a number of reasons, and they all tie into each other:

  • The minimal amount of ease in the block at the hips (2 inches) is fine if I’m standing up, when I sit down I find that ease insufficient.  The ‘spread’ that happens when I sit down with a top that’s close fitting at the base means the top rides up a bit and bunches up around the waist.
  • If I have minimal ease in the hips, I still have that large amount in the waist (even without that extra added in Figure 5b).  The result of that is lots of ease in the waist, little ease in the hip, ending up with a unflattering and unappealing look.
  • Given that I have a small upper bust, if I have minimal ease in the hips and a large amount in the waist, the overall look is an unflattering triangular effect.
  • Given all the reasons above, adding the extra ease in the hips with a slight flare out (a slightly peplum look without the waist design line ) is more flattering and comfortable for me.

Of course, for people with different figures (larger waist, smaller hips), they should make different decisions to suit their figures.

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