In Action: Example

This follows on from Strapless.

In the previous pages we marked contouring information on the Bodice block, but what do we do with this information, how do we use it?

Contouring marks indicate where gaping will occur.   Gaping means that a dart is required, so the solution is to put in a dart.

In the example in Figure 1, the design line crosses one of the gape dart lines, so a dart is required.  This does not mean putting a dart in the neckline** – the gape dart needs to be incorporated into the design.   In this case, it will be moved into the side seam dart.

Moving darts to difference places in the Bodice Block is covered in detail in the Manipulating Darts section of the Principles pages, and is a skill you need to learn before attempting to make your own patterns.  Below in an example of how this gape dart information is applied; in this example you can see the difference in the shape of the pattern piece when the gape dart is moved to the side seam dart.

** Note:  You can put a dart in the neckline if the design calls for it, but in this case it doesn’t.

The Gape Dart Moved

In Figures 2 & 3 below, the gape dart has been moved into the side seam dart.

6 Responses

  1. hi
    if the back neck 10 inches or front neck 8 inches deep then how contouring principal work,
    or can u show me how to make the pattern with this neck measurements

  2. Hello Prashant,

    I’m sorry but the information you have given is not sufficient for me to give a valid answer to your question.

    You need to work out the contouring by making yourself a toile, then lowering the neckline and seeing how much gaping occurs. Then you transfer that information (i.e. how much gaping occurs) onto the block. You then pivot that gape dart out of the neckline and into another dart (side seam or waist).

    Contouring amounts are different for each individual, but you could if you wanted just use the standard amounts.

    Please read these pages on my website:


  3. Hi Maria,

    I am working on a pattern for Indian saree blouse. It has deep front and back necks with sleeves . It should fit close to the body. The back neck would be 9-10” deep and front neck is about 6-7” deep.
    How does the contouring principles work?

    I tried contouring on the neck and raised the side seams but the bodice keeps falling off shoulders after the sleeves are attached , please suggest how I can fix this?


  4. Hello Satya

    You can’t have a really deep front neckline and a deep back neckline without encountering the problem you are experiencing. If you have a really deep front neckline, you need the back to be a certain height to keep the dress on your shoulders, and visa versa. One option is to put a strap across the back at the top (as a feature and part of the design). I will upload a photo of an example of what i mean. (This is a dress I made with V neckline in front and back, and the back neckline is lower than the front. I have put a little strap across the back up high to stop the dress falling off my shoulders. If I remade the dress, I would make that strap about double the width as I think a thicker strap would look better).

    First you need to work out the contouring for the front, then after that work out how deep your back neckline can go.

    In order to work out your front contouring (how much gaping occurs with low necklines), I would recommend your work out the front first. Make a toile with the back full length, then cut down the front neckline and widen the shoulders a bit at a time and see how much gaping occurs at each depth. You then mark the gape darts on your block. This is shown in the pages on my website on Contouring.

    With the gape dart sewn on the lowest depth you want, then start cutting down the back neckline and find out how low you can get before it starts falling off your shoulders.


  5. Thank you Maria!
    I figured It out and am able to sew the blouse but I am not sure how to manage the shoulder dart, with my shoulder strap as 2.5” .
    I moved the shoulder dart to armhole, the fit is ok but it doesn’t look nice per the design.
    If I don’t use the dart, there is a bubble of fabric near back armhole.

    Please suggest.

  6. Hello again Satya

    If the fit is better with the shoulder dart and you really need it, one option is moving into the neckline. That does mean there is a dartline in the neckline, but at some point you need to choose between a certain design that might not work for your body, and what suits your figure.

    Generally when there the shoulder dart is not used in the deisgn and you need it, you try and incorporate it into the design – for example putting in a yoke or using a armhole princess line; in both of these cases the dart is moved to and incorporated into the design line.

    When you say ‘as per the design’; are you working from a picture? Generally if you are drafting your own patterns for yourself you may need to make changes so that it works for you. Not every design will work for every figure.

    Women with a rounded upper back (quite common with large bust) really need the shoulder dart incorporated into the design somehow, or they will get a gape in the back armhole of sleeveless garments, or too much fabric in the back armhole with a sleeved garment.

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