Drafting the Bodice Block
Pattern Cutting - How to cut your own sewing patterns. Although it is much easier to download sewing patterns drafted to your own measurements, many sewers like to learn how to do it from scratch. Here are my In-Depth Pattern Cutting Videos to get you started
The Pattern Cutting eBook Series is available to Members or can be purchased separately. I am including the Transcript for the Pattern Cutting Series. Members can download these videos to keep.
Part 1 - Equipment, Measurements & Plan
Pattern Cutting - The Variables
The Back Bodice
Find O: Measuring down from Top Line to mark O - 1", for over 38" bust 1½".
Find Bust Line: Measuring down from O for Bust Line: 8½" for Bust 36/38". Add or subtract ¼" for every 2" larger or smaller.
Find Neck Width: 2½" + ⅛" for Bust 36. Add or subtract ⅛" for each size larger or smaller.
Back Bust Line - Add 2" to Half Back Width for average sizes. A little less for smaller sizes. For larger sizes add up to 2¾".
Back Hip Point - For larger sizes make HP ½" or so less than ¼ hip measurement for CB.
The Front Bodice
Find the Shoulder Line: Measure down from O 1¾", for Bust 42" and over 1½".
Find the Base of Neckline: Measure down from O 3". This can be increased to 3¼" - 3½" for larger sizes.
Find the Shoulder Dart Width: For Bust 36" the dart width along the Shoulder is 3". Add or subtract ¼" for sizes larger or smaller.
Front Hip Line - For larger sizes make HP more than ¼ hip + 1½" to 2" from CF. Look for balance in the side seam between the back and front at Hip Level.
Find the True Waist: For larger sizes drop the Centre Front Waist Point up to 1" an up to ½" at the side seam.
Pattern Cutting - The Transcript
This is all the equipment you need to draft a block from your measurements. A sharp pair of scissors. A tape measure. A metre rule or a Yard Stick as we used to call it. Sharp Pencils, Rubber, and most importantly, a nice large Set Square. A normal ruler is handy. A ruler like this is quite popular but not by any means essential.
I buy my pattern paper on a big fat roll. It lasts a very long time if you are serious about drafting your own patterns, but you can buy sheets by the pack. It can be marked off in inches or every 2½cm. I prefer plain paper. Brown paper will do. Some people use newspaper although I wouldn't recommend it.
Here are the measurements you need for the Basic Bodice Block. I'm purposely not using a standard size as this is the whole point of drafting a block to fit.
So first of all you need the measurement around the fullest part of the Bust. This rises a little at the back. This measurement will also be used to determine some of the variables.
The true Waist - not too tight.
The hip measurement is usually taken about 8 or 9" below the waist, but it must be where the widest measurement is and take a note of how far down from the waist it is.
The Back Waist Length. From the bone at the nape of the neck to the waist. Being a petite person myself, I have always appreciated how important this measurement is. Getting it right will solve so many fitting problems.
Then Chest Width. Now this measurement will make or break your block and you may need to experiment if you get it wrong first time. It is taken from about 4½ - 5" from base of neckline standing nice and straight.
The Back Width. This measurement is taken 4 - 4½" from the nape of the neck - don't stand quite so erect as you want to allow for a certain amount of stooping with comfort.
Shoulder Length. From neck to the edge of the bone on the shoulder.
Around Upper Arm. Around the fullest part of the arm with the tape measure in the armpit.
Print off my PDF sheet (Member's eBook Download) and fill in your measurements. If you have doubts about any measurements, use the one closest to the standard size for your bust and hips.
My PDF guide contains details of variables that are dependent on size (or see details above).
So cut a piece of paper 30" long and half hips (or bust, which ever is larger) wide + 3" or so.
Rule a line along the length 1" or so from the left edge. This is centre back.
Square off a line across the top of the page. This is the Top Line. Label Centre Back line CB.
For our Centre Front line you want to measure at least half bust plus 2-3" or half hips plus 1½", which ever is the larger but you can draft this line further away if you like.
The important thing is that you want to avoid the back and front bodice overlapping.
So label this line CF for Centre Front.
So here I show an initial rectangle of half hips plus 3" wide and at least as long as Back Waist Length plus 10", which will be a bit longer than the final block. This gives a good bit of room.
Mark down 1" from the Top Line. This increases to 1.5" for sizes over Bust 38". Check for variables in my PDF guide. Draw this about a 3rd of the way across. Call this O.
Using your own Back Waist measurement, mark down from O for the Waist Line and square across to the CF Line. This is the provisional waist position. Label WP. Then measure 8.25" from O for the Bust Line, which is also the bottom of the Armhole. This figure varies depending on Bust by 1/4" for every 2" size outside the 34-36" range. So bust 36" would be 8.5" down, A 38" bust line would be 8 3/4" down from O. Again check the PDF Guide for variables.
Continue this line across to CF. Then mark half this measurement down for the Back Line and rule less than half way across. Label BL for the Bust Line and label the Back Line.
The shoulder line is 1.5" below O. This is the same for all sizes. Square across and label the Shoulder Line SL.