Top Pattern #1B

The information on Top 01a 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 Top #1b

  • Sleeveless top
  • Front dart in side seam and waist
  • Back waist darts
  • Center Front button placket with 5 buttons
  • Neckline and armholes finished with bias binding

Flat & Details

  • Bodice front has side seam darts and waist darts
  • Front neckline depth 275-in (7cm).
  • Back has a boat neckline with a depth of 1.75-in (4.5cm).
  • Button placket with 5 buttons
  • Hem at hip-line has 4.75 inches (12cm) ease added (to the block)
  • Neckline and armholes finished with bias binding (self fabric)

Plan of Action

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.

Although you can make all these decisions on the fly while making the pattern; but this can lead to some oversights and mistakes. Even when there are minimal pattern pieces.   Especially when you’re starting out, it is a very good practice to get into.

How many pattern pieces?

There are only three pattern pieces; the Bodice Front, Bodice Back, and the interfacing for the Button Placket. The button placket itself is an extension of the Bodice Front.

  1. Bodice Front
  2. Bodice Back
  3. Placket interfacing

Notes/Plan of Action for creating Pattern Pieces

Please be aware that the notes that I would create (and you for your project) would just be jotted points.  I wouldn’t put this descriptive detail for myself.  I am putting full explanations for people new to sewing and/or patternmaking who may not understand (“don’t add seam allowance neckline & armholes – bias binding,” or “gape dart neckline?”)

Note that although there are only three pattern pieces, the neckline and the armholes are finished off with bias tape.   I do NOT create a pattern piece and then pin that onto the fabric and cut it out.  I create as many strips of bias as I can from a square of fabric, then sew them together and cut them to the length required. (I use leftovers for other projects).

Things I need to keep in mind, decisions I need to make before drafting the top:

  • I need to determine whether the neckline depth means there will be a gape dart which needs to be moved into the side seam dart.
  • How much do I want to add to the circumference at the hemline?  This top is A-line rather than square, but the hem (accordingly to my flat) isn’t that wide…
  • I need to determine the width of the bias tape (actually, I always use the same, but again, this is for the purposes of illustrating the point.)
  • I need to remember that I don’t need to add seam allowance to the neckline and armholes, due to the use of bias tape on the outside of the garment. (If it was bias binding used just to finish off the seam, not part of the garment details, it would be only on the inside and that would require adding seam allowance).  See the image below for an example of this.

Image – Finishing off with Bias Binding

The top on the left has the bias tape on the inside only.  The top on the right has the bias tape as part of the garment.


  • The neckline does not require contouring (for me!)
  • The bias tape will be made of the self fabric, showing on the outside and be 0.38inch | 1cm wide.  The seam allowance will also be 0.38 inch | 1cm, therefore the bias tape need to be (twice the width of the bias + twice the width of the seam allowance) = 1.57-inch | 4cm. (Having said that I usually cut my bias 2 inches | 5cm wide  and it ends up being a tiny bit wider… Given I’m making this for myself and these decisions are purely my own, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not my shoulder width is a tiny fraction more than the original plan).
  • I will add at total of 4 inches | 10cm to the circumference at the hemline, distributed evenly between front and back.  This means 1 inch | 2.5cm each to the Front Bodice and the Back Bodice.

Pattern Pieces for interfacing

II make most of my patterns out of vilene rather than paper, as it is much easier to pin to fabric, especially if the fabric is a sheer or a bit difficult to work with (i.e. viscose).  However, I don’t even use vilene to make pattern pieces to cut out interfacing; I use scraps of fabric.

Especially in a top like this, where my interfacing is very thin and unstable, it is so much easier to cut it out with a piece of fabric.  I also use another piece of fabric underneath to really stablize it.  This means the interfacing is sandwiched between 2 layers of fabric, making it very stable.  It’s easier to draw the pattern piece onto calico or other non-print fabric, but you can use any fabric piece is you can see the lines you have drawn.  When I draw the pattern pieces onto fabric, I use a thin marking pen.

Don’t cut the pattern piece out of the fabric before laying it on the interfacing; leave some fabric around the lines of the pattern; this makes it much easier to cut (i.e. further stability, you are cutting through 2 layers of fabric and the interfacing).    Here is an image showing what I mean. This is actually the pattern piece for the button placket interfacing  for this pattern.  I never cut-on-fold with interfacing, so I have drawn both of the pattern pieces; the line down the middle is the separating line.


Outcome & Notes

This shows the original concept drawing and a photo of me wearing the garment.  Scroll down for some notes.


I don’t really have much to say about this except that it is a really good basic sleeveless top for me.  I like how loose it is in the hips, waist and under bust; it’s very comfortable to sit down in. (A lot of ready to wear clothing bunches around my hips and ride up).

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

Andersonrise from 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright of original (photo) image: andersonrise / 123RF Stock Photo

Step-by-Step Instructions: Top #1b

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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