How to Draft a Bodice Pattern
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
1. Start by measuring yourself. Read below to see how to get them.
2. To take the across shoulder measurement, measure from the point of one shoulder straight across to the other.
3. Shoulder to center waist measurement
-Measure from the same point of the shoulder across to the center front of the waist (approximately in line with your belly button) and at the center back (in line with your spine).
For front measurement
- Mark the measuring tape where the point of your bust hits – you’ll need to know both the front shoulder to center waist and the shoulder to bust point measurements.
4. Armpit to waist measurement
-Go back to that part where you had the string tied around your waist and the ruler under your arm. Measure from the top of the ruler down your side seam to the waist string.
5. Shoulder to center waist measurement
-Measure from the same point of the shoulder across to the center front of the waist (approximately in line with your belly button)at the center back (in line with your spine).
-For the front measurement, mark the tape where the point of your bust hits. Its important to know both the front shoulder to center waist and the shoulder to bust point measurements.
Tips to draft
Keep a long ruler, at least 18 inches
A large piece of paper
Pattern tracing paper
Exam table paper
Baking parchment paper
Gift wrapping paper
Flexible ruler or French curve ruler
To Start with the Front Bodice
1. On the vertical line, mark off the center back length. At the top of the line, measure out 1/2 the across shoulder width. Make sure this is measured out at a 90 degree angle.
2. From the corner, measure horizontally 1/5 of the neck measurement plus 1/2 inch. Measure down 1/5 the neck measurement plus 1/4 inch. Draw a curved line to connect the two.
3. Draw a line from the center front bottom to the point of the across shoulder line.
4. On that diagonal line, measure up the amount of the shoulder to center waist and make a mark.
5. Connect your two marks to create the shoulder line of your front bodice. Then measure down from your new shoulder point to the bust point. 6. From the bust point, you’re going to need to mark your dart. To determine your dart, subtract your high bust from your full bust measurement. The dart paper size doesn’t matter, just make sure you are printing through Adobe and choosing “actual size” or “100%” or similar instead of anything like “scaling” or “fit to page”. You can check by measuring one of the lines – it should be 4.5 inches or 11.4 cm long). Line the point of the dart up with the bust point and trace the dart for your size. If your difference has a 1/2 inch, you can trace between two lines. 7. Extend the vertical dart line down to meet the waist line, then measure it, then measure the other dart leg to make sure it’s the same length. 8. Draw a 90 degree line from the second dart leg extending out toward the side seam. Measure the two blue lines at the bottom of the bodice – together they should add up to 1/4 of the waist measurement plus 1/4 inch (for ease).
9. Measure out from the center front 1/2 of the front bust measurement (not full bust – this diagram has the wrong wording – sorry!) plus 1/4 inch (this is for ease). Draw a vertical line at this point – this is a guideline.
10. Draw a line that is the length of the armpit to waist measurement that touches the corner of the bottom of the bodice and and the vertical guideline from step 9. 11. This is what the side seam looks like without the words in the way. 12. Where the side seam touches the vertical guide, draw another horizontal guideline. Measure along this guideline from the center front 1/4 of the high bust measurement and make a mark.
13. Draw in the armscye curve. The fuller your bust is, the deeper this curve will be. The curve should come in to touch the guideline from step 12 before curving up toward the shoulder. Make sure the curve starts and ends at a 90 degree angle to the side and shoulder lines. 14. You’re done with the front bodice!
15. To start to back bodice, draw a vertical line. On the vertical line, mark off the center back length plus 1/2 inch. At the top of the line, measure out 1/2 the across shoulder width. Make sure this is measured out at a 90 degree angle.
16. From the corner, measure horizontally 1/5 of the neck measurement minus 1/8 inch. Measure down 3/8 inch. Draw a curved line to connect the two in the neckline. Then, from the bottom of the neckline, measure down 1/5 of the armscye depth plus 1/4 inch (Not minus 1/4 inch as the diagram says – my mistake – I was drawing these late at night) and make a mark. Draw a horizontal guideline at this level.
17. Measure up from the bottom of the center back up toward the guideline the amount of the center back to shoulder measurement. Then draw in a shoulder line from the end of the neckline to this point. 18. From the center back, measure horizontally 1/2 of the back bust plus 1/4 inch (for ease) and draw a vertical guideline. At the bottom of the center back line, draw a horizontal line at 90 degrees that is 1/4 of the waist measurement plus 1 inch (for the dart) and 1/4 for ease. (So 1/4 waist plus 1 1/4 inches).
19. Mark a line that is the length of the armpit to waist measurement that touches the waistline and the guideline from step 18. Depending on your back bust measurement, this line may be very angled, almost vertical, or even angled out.
20. Draw in the back armscye. This curve will likely be shallower than the front bodice, unless you have a very broad upper back and narrow back waist.
21. Measure the shoulder seam. Make a mark at the halfway point, then draw a vertical guideline straight down from that point to touch the waistline. Draw in a 1 inch dart that starts at this line and goes up to touch the guideline that is even with the armscye. 22. Compare the front bodice and back bodice at the shoulder. You may find that the back shoulder is longer than the front. If so, you’ll need to add a small dart to the back shoulder. Measure the difference between the two. 23. If the shoulder dart is needed, make a 3 inch long dart at the center point of the shoulder that is the width of the difference. 24. You’re done with the back bodice!
To sew up a bodice to test, add seam allowances to the side seams, shoulder seams, and center back.
Baste in a zipper and sew the darts, shoulder and side seams.
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