Standard Contouring Amounts

This follows on from Sleeveless Block. The standard contouring amounts (i.e. for the Standard Figure) are as shown in the images below, for the front and the back.

Bodice Front

Front Figure 1:  Reduction in block width

The reduction is 0.5-inch. When creating the Bodice Block, the amount of ease added to the body measurement, at the underarm level, was 5 inches.  This is ideal for garments with sleeves.  This reduction of  0.5-inch on the half-blocks front and back will reduce the total amount of ease to 3 inches for the fitted sleeveless garment.  (Half inch x 2 front, half inch x 2 back = 2 inches).

Front Figure 2:  Reduction in armhole ease

The reduction is 0.25-inch. The curve of the armhole is closer to the body without a sleeve.  When this excess amount is removed it reduces the armhole measurement and also raises the armhole.

Front Figure 3:  Cutaway armhole

Reduction of 0.5-inch at bust circle, tapering to zero at both the shoulder and the Bust Point. A cutaway arm will cause gaping between the shoulder and the bust mound.  As this line will be on the bias stretch, the gape dart amount is more than the actual gape.

Front Figure 4: Shoulder line shaping

Reduction of 0.13-inch at mid-shoulder. The shoulder usually dips a little in the middle.  (See the Examples for an application of using this guideline).

Front Figure 5:  Low neckline guide

Reduction of 0.25-inch at the bust circle, tapering to zero at both the neckline and the Bust Point. The lower the neckline, the more the gape.  Note that when the neckline dips to near or below the Bust Point, contouring line No.6. applies in addition to this one.

Front Figure 6:  Low neckline

Very near and below the Bust Point; 0.75 inch total at Centre Front. Necklines that dip to the Bust Poin and below need even more contouring.

Front Figure 7: Empire Line Guides

The dart width increases 0.75-inch at the bust circle. The Empire Line style ends beneath the bust, therefore the dart ends at the bust circle rather than extending to the waist. The dart needs to be wider for the garment to return to the body under the bust.   See Figure 7b if you do not understand this.

Front Figure 7b: The Empire Line return

The Empire Line returns to the body under the bust, rather than falling from the bust to the waist.

Bodice Back

Back Figure 1: Reduction in block width

The reduction is 0.5-inch. When creating the Bodice Block, the amount of ease added to the body measurement, at the underarm level, was 6 inches.  This is ideal for garments with sleeves.  This reduction of 0.5-inch on the half-blocks front and back will the total amount of ease to 4 inches for the fitted sleeveless garment.

Back Figure 2: Shoulder line shaping

Reduction of 0.13-inch at mid-shoulder. The shoulder usually dips a little in the middle.  (See the Examples for an application of using this guideline).

Back Figure 3:  Increase height of waist dart

Increase the height of the waist dart by extending the dart point up to the Across Back line. The placement of the Across-Back line is 1/4 of the CB measurement – down from the CB neck point.  This line is drawn at right angles to the CB line.

Back Figure 4:  Increase of dart

The dart, which was previously at the waist level, is now under the bust. The width increases 0.75-inch at Empire Line level. The placement of the Empire Line is another matter – it is based on the Bodice Front Empire Line.  See the page  Empire Line Styling in the Elements Menu.

Continued in Individual Contouring.

6 Responses

  1. Hello Maria,

    Thank you again for such a helpful resource. I’m drafting a pattern for a wedding dress. It has a low neckline for which I will use standard contouring. The question I have is how can I calculate the distance of the bust circle from the bust point? If you explained that on one of your contouring pages, I missed it.

    Best regards,

  2. Hello Wonnie

    You could, but the contouring would be different than for the Block With Ease. This is OK if you work it out for yourself on the moulage. That is – you would work out the contouring for the moulage separately to the contouring for your block.

    I would also wonder…. why? When you add ease, those contouring amounts would no longer be correct.

    I cannot see that the Standard Contouring amounts would work; they are based on a block with ease.

    I have had some people say that they think that ease is unnecessary. For those people make a clothing from a moulage and they find the clothing comfortable and allows a full range of movement, then those people were mistaken in their body measurement. (Of course I am talking about woven fabric here – not stretch). You do need some ease.

    But whatever bock you are using to make your clothing from, you need to work out the contouring for/with that block.

  3. Hi Maria,
    I thought I had left a comment before but maybe I didn’t (or my question was too badly phrased).
    I followed your tutorials on drafting a stretchwoven from torso block and knit from stretch woven block, but I wanted to keep the darts in so I graded everything horizontally by a percentage for different stretch ratios. I’ve run up some samples in various stretch fabrics and they work great for a standard neck, sleeved design, now I’m wondering how to apply the contouring to the one with the most stretch for a lycra based, low neck, sleeveless, empire line design.
    I can see in a previous comment you’ve said that these standard contouring amounts are for a block with ease; would it simply be a case of reducing them by the same percentage as the stretch ratio for the stretch knit block? Or are there standard contouring amounts for a block with negative ease?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hello Florie

      Starting first with just stretch (not stretchwoven): The standard theory says you remove darts to create the stretch blocks. If there are no darts, then you cannot do any contouring .(As contouring creates gape darts which are moved into existing darts. If there are no darts and you created a gape-dart, you would then have a dart. Having said that, if there is gaping and you want to create a dart, you can. But as there is no industry standard, I can’t tell you what you use – you would have to determine what you need. Generally I would think that if you have the shape of your block correct you shouldn’t have any gaping as the reduction in ease together with the fabric stretch would negate the need for that.

      Regarding the stretchwoven, I would — in my opinion as I haven’t seen it specifically mentioned in any of my textbooks – you would use the same contouring as you would for your normal block. This is because the stretchwoven just has the additional ease removed at the side seam; the contours of your body remain the same and you’ll still have gape darts which can be moved into an existing dart. As I said, this is my opinion, but I would think that for a better fit you would use the same contouring for stretchwoven as per the normal block but this is definitely premised on taking the block down to the body measurements, not down further to negative ease.

      But you can do what you want depending on your individual body.

      1. Hi Leonard,
        Thanks for your input =) I know that normally all darts are removed in stretch blocks, but I want a better fit for curvier figures which I’m finding more achievable by incorporating darts into style lines rather than just taking everything out of the side seams and hoping the fabric stretches across nicely – especially in areas where the difference between two horizontal measurements in close proximity are so large (i.e. a corseted waist and a full hip) or where there is a large difference that is disproportionate between front and back body (i.e. point of bust to under bust).
        I assumed there was no industry standards as I know companies will work from dartless blocks, but I wondered if my theory of applying the same percentage of reduction to the standard contouring amounts had any credit? My research so far hasn’t found any answers so I’m guessing it’s just going to be a case of “try it and see”.

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