Instructions: Bodice Front - 2-Dart Block

These are the step-by-step instructions for the Bodice Front. These instructions create a Two-Dart Bodice Front block: one dart in the side seam and one in the waist. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the downloadable PDF booklet.

There is also an option to create a One-Dart Bodice Front - see the menu.  It is unnecessary to create both from scratch.  See the article: 1-Dart or 2-Dart Bodice Front?  for more information.

bodice-front

Example - Finished Bodice Front

This first image is what the block looks like at the end of the step-by-step instructions below, using the measurements specified in the Example Measurements page - see the Bodice Block Instructions menu.

The shape of yours may end up looking quite different.  See below for how my block differs in shape to this standard block.

marias-bodice-front

Comparison: My Bodice Block Front

This is what my block, using my personal measurements, looks like.   This is to show you that if the shape of your block ends up looking quite different to the one I am making, it doesn't matter (as long as you are using your correct measurements, of course!). 

This is the point of making your own block: it will reflect what your body looks like.

Bodice Front Figure 1

Draw a rectangle:

  1. Height of rectangle: From A up to B = Full Length Front.
  2. Width of rectangle: From B across to C = (Upper Bust ? 4) + 1.5 inches ease.
  3. Complete the rectangle - making sure all angles are squared.
  4. Label the points A, B, C & D as shown.

(For this example: Height = 17.5 inches, Width = 8.5 + 1.5 = 10 inches)

instructions-bodice-front-01

Bodice Front Figure 2

  1. Draw a line to the left of the rectangle, parallel to the line D to C:
    • A-Bust-Cup: 0.63 inches from the line D~C (between 0.63 & 0.87)
    • B-Bust-Cup: 1.25 inches from the line D~C
    • C-Bust-Cup: 1.88 inches from the line D~C
    • D-Bust-Cup: 2.5 inches from the line D~C
    • DD-Bust-Cup: 3.14 inches from the line D~C
  2. Label this line E as shown.

Important: Make sure you use the Bust Cup Sizes as they relate to patternmaking, not your bra size.

(For these instructions I will use the B-Cup line, so you will not see the other lines in the images from Step 3. However, YOU use the line relevant to your Bust Cup.  You will end up with a bigger or smaller dart.)

instructions bodice front 02

Bodice Front Figure 3

  1. Centre Front Length: From A, on the A~B line, measure and mark the Centre Front Length measurement.  At this point, draw a line (about 3 inches) inwards.  Label this line F.
  2. Across Shoulder: From B, on the B~C line, mark the Across Shoulder measurement.  At this point draw a line (about 4 inches) down.   Label this line G.

(For this example, the measurements are: Centre Front Length = 14.52 inches, Across Shoulder = 7.63 inches).

bodice block front instructions step 3

Bodice Front Figure 4

  1. Shoulder Slope Measurement: Draw a line, measuring up from A to the line marked G. Label this point H.
  2. Shoulder Length: Draw a line, measuring up from point H to meet the line B~C.  Label this point I.
  3. Neckline Guide: Draw a line from point I to meet the line F.  Make sure the line is at right angles (squared) to the Shoulder Length Line.
  4. Write CF on the Centre Front line.

(For this example, the measurements are: Shoulder Slope = 17.31 inches, Shoulder Length = 5.08 inches).

bodice block front instructions step 4

Bodice Front Figure 5

  1. Front Armhole Depth Measurement: Measure down from C on the C~D line. Label this point J.
  2. Side Length Measurement: Draw a line, measuring from point J to meet the line E.  Label this point K. 
  3. Armhole Guide: Draw a line at right angles to the J~K line at the J~K intersection - about 2 or 3 inches long.

(For this example, the measurements are: Front Armhole Depth = 8.33 inches, Side Length = 8.06 inches).

bodice block front instructions step 5

Bodice Front Figure 6

  1. Bust Depth Measurement: Measure down from H on the Shoulder Slope Line (H~A) and mark this point with a cross or a dot.
  2. Bust Span Measurement: Measure the Bust Span from the Centre Front Line (A~B) at the level of the Bust Depth Point you just made.  It may pass beyond the H~A line.  This is the Bust Point; mark it with a circle.  (You will pierce a hole through the cardboard at this Bust Point circle).   You can also label it with BP if you wish.

(For this example, the measurements are: Bust Depth = 10.25 inches, Bust Span = 3.75 inches).

bodice block front instructions step 6

Bodice Front Figure 7

  1. Across Chest Placement: Measure the distance from the line F down to the BP line and divide this measurement by 3.  Using this total, measure down from F and label the point L.
  2. Across Chest Measurement: Add 0.25 in to the Across Chest Measurement.  Measuring across from L, at right angles to the CF line, and label the end point M.

(For this example, the measurements are: Across Chest Placement Point: @ 2.38 inches down from F, Across Chest = 6.76 + 0.25 = 7.01 inches).

bodice block front instructions step 7

Bodice Front Figure 8

  1. Draw the Neckline: Using a French Curve, draw a line from Point I to meet the line F at the CF line.  The curve should go inwards about 1/8 inch from the straight line.
  2. Draw the Armhole: Using a French Curve, draw a line from H to J, touching at point M.  You may need to move the French Curve and draw two lines, blending them together.
  3. Side Seam Dart Placement: Measure down from J and label the placement point N. 
  4. Draw a line from N to the Bust Point.

(For this example, the measurements is: Side Seam Placement = 2.36 inches.  See the Preliminary Information pages for details of where to place your side seam dart ).

bodice block front instructions step 8

Bodice Front Figure 9

We are going to open up the side seam dart now, and for that, you need either (a) some tracing paper, or (b) a small piece of cardboard that will fit under the triangle shown.  The image shows the tracing option and the tracing paper is yellow so it can be seen more easily.

  1. Tracing: Mark the points N, K & BP on the tracing paper, then (you can take the tracing paper off) use a ruler to draw the lines BP to N and N to K.  Once you have drawn the lines, put the tracing paper back on and double-check that is is correct.  On the tracing paper, label the point N as O and label the point K as P.
  2. Cardboard: Place a piece of cardboard underneath the block cardboard - so that is under the N ~ K ~ BP triangle.  Using an awl, pierce through these three points to the cardboard below.  Remove the cardboard and draw the triangle shown by the three puncture points.  Cut out the triangle (being very accurate), and use this cardboard triangle instead of the tracing paper in the next step.

bodice block front instructions step 9

Bodice Front Figure 10

  1. Draw a line: underneath the D ~ A line,  3/16 inches underneath and parallel to it. This is indicated by a dashed blue line in the image. Label this line Q.
  2. Pivot the triangle: Using an awl or something sharp (so that it is held firmly), hold down the tracing paper at the Bust Point, and pivot the paper/triangle, until the bottom of the triangle - Point P - touches the line Q.
  3. Pierce Holes: Holding the paper firmly in place, move the awl and pierce holes through the tracing paper at points O & P.

instructions-bodice-front-10

Bodice Front Figure 11

  1. Remove the tracing paper.
  2. Draw lines from the BP and the (hole punched by the awl) point O.  Label O on the cardboard (it was previously marked on the tracing paper, which has been taken off).
  3. Draw a line from Point N to the (hole punched by awl) point P.   Label P on the cardboard.
  4. Draw a line straight down from the BP to the line Q. This mid-waist dart line should be at right angles to the line Q.  Label the end of the mid-dart line R.
  5. Measure from CF on the line Q across to the point P.  We need this measurement to work out the different between what we need for the block (waist measurement + ease) and what is there at the moment.  THe superfluous amount will be removed either in a waist dart, or, if you have a small waist, most in the waist dart and the rest of the side seam.

bodice block front instructions step 11

Bodice Front Figure 12

  1. Work out the waist measurement needed for the block:  (Waist Measurement + 1 inch ease) ÷ 4.   In our example: ( 28 + 1) ÷ 4 = 7.25 inches.
  2. Measure from Q to P on the Q line.  In our example: 9.85 inches.
  3. Calculate what is superfluous:  9.85 - 7.25 = 2.6 inches. 

If the amount left over is 1.75 inches or less, it is taken out in the waist dart.  If it is more, then the waist dart should be 1.75 inches, and the rest is taken off the side seam.

In our example, because the remainder is 2.6 inches, the waist dart is 1.75 inches and the remainder, .85 inch, is taken off the side seam. 

(For this example, the measurements are:  Waist = 28 inches, Waist Arc = 7.25 inches, [a] to O = 9.85 inches, superfluous = 2.6 inches. ).

bodice block front instructions step 11

Bodice Front Figure 13

  1. Label the Waist Dart points S & T on the line Q.
  2. Draw lines from the BP to S and the Bust Point to T. (The lines need to end on the Q line, not the A~D line).
  3. If you need to take some off the side seam, measure across from P on the line Q and label the point U.  If you do not need to take any off the side seam, you can move to Figure 14.  You will not need to mark points U or V on your block, you will continue labeling from point W.
  4. Draw a line from the new side seam from point U to O.  This new line from U to O will be longer than the original P ~ O line. The original P ~O line is part of the side seam and it is the correct length, so we need to make an adjustment to the new time so that the side seam length stays true.
  5. Measure the original line P to O.  Using this measurement, measure up on the U ~ O line and mark.  It should fall a little short of O.  Label this new point V.

bodice block front instructions step 12

Bodice Front Figure 14

  1. Redraw the line from the BP to V, making it the same length as BP to N.
  2. Measure the distance between the dart-width points N and O, and label the mid-point W.
  3. Draw a (dashed) line from BP through the point W and extend it out until it reaches the original side seam line (J to K).
  4. Draw the outline of the block:
    • the centre front length A to the line F
    • the neckline curve from F to I
    • the shoulder length from I to H
    • the armhole curve H to J
    • the side seam from J to U through N and W and either O or V
    • the waist curve from U to A through T, R & S.

For details on the drawing the waist curve, see the page Waist Curve.

bodice block front instructions step 12

Bodice Front Figure 15

The darts need to end some distance before the Bust Point.  Referring to the table Placement of Dart Point from Bust Point (see the menu to the right):

  1. Measure from the Bust Point along the side seam mid-dart line (BP to W), and mark the Dart Point X.  In this example, X is 0.88 inches from the BP.
  2. Draw the dart legs from X to N and X to V (or O if you did not need to take some off the side seam).
  3. Measure from the Bust Point, along the waist mid-dart line (BP to R), and label the Dart Point Y. In this example, Y is .75 inch from BP.
  4. Draw the dart legs from Y to S and from Y to T.  Note that these two dart legs need te be the same length.  If the line from the BP to the mid-dart point R is at right angles to the waistline, they should be identical.  Check that they are the same.

instructions-bodice-front-15

Figure 16: Your Bodice Front is finished!

Your block is now finished.  You can now:

  1. Label the block (e.g. Bodice Front, Size, Name, etc..).
  2. Cut out the block shape from the cardboard.
  3. Punch a hole through the cardboard at the Bust Point and both Dart Points, using an awl or another sharp implement.
  4. Notch the dart legs at both the waist and side seam.
  5. Mark the grainline.
  6. Mark the CF.

Note that the armhole notch will be marked after the sleeve is made: the notch point is made when creating the sleeve and is transferred to the bodice.

instructions-bodice-front-16-final

Important!

  • Now create your Bodice Back.
  • After you have made both Front & Back, check that the side seam and shoulder lengths match.
  • You will also need to true the armhole and necklines curves: this is checking the flow through curves are smooth.  See Terminology > Truing for an example.
  • This Bodice Block is for garments with sleeves.  Note that when making sleeveless garments, garments with cutaway armholes or low necklines, you will need to make adjustments. See the section on Contouring; if you have already marked the Bodice Block with contour markings, you can just transfer them to this block.

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  1. Comments (9)

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi is there a formula to calculate the Bust-Cup?

I am trying to figure out how much you would need to add to the line you draw parallel to A-B line for larger cups than those listed. I am actually a M cup... Yes M...yes bras go up that big..yes...

Hi is there a formula to calculate the Bust-Cup?

I am trying to figure out how much you would need to add to the line you draw parallel to A-B line for larger cups than those listed. I am actually a M cup... Yes M...yes bras go up that big..yes naturally no implants. I am assuming 8.18 inches. I worked this out by adding .63 inches to each bra cup size (DDD,G,H,I...M) until i got to M. Do you think this is accurate?

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BajanGal
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Hi there,

Don't use your bra cup size. Bra cup sizes are determined by the difference between your under-bust and your bust measurements. For patternmaking it is the difference between your Upper Bust and your Bust. To give an example: My...

Hi there,

Don't use your bra cup size. Bra cup sizes are determined by the difference between your under-bust and your bust measurements. For patternmaking it is the difference between your Upper Bust and your Bust. To give an example: My bra cup size is DD/E (or sometimes DDD/F) cup when buying bras (5-6 inches difference between my underbust and bust) , but for patternmaking it is D because the difference between my Upper Bust and Bust is only 4 inches. (When I put on weight and my bust increases, my upper bust increases minimally but not proportionally).

So in answer to your question - you do add .63 inches per 'cup size', BUT.... this is patternmaking cup size, and is quite different to bra cup size.

Could you tell me the difference between your Upper Bust and Bust measurements? Then I'll confirm where you draw the line parallel to the A~B line.

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Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Maria Maria
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This is so interesting. I have a large bust (difference between upper and full bust at the moment around 10cm). I have tried so many sloper making instructions, but they all ended up with a huge armhole and far from fitting. In the end I had...

This is so interesting. I have a large bust (difference between upper and full bust at the moment around 10cm). I have tried so many sloper making instructions, but they all ended up with a huge armhole and far from fitting. In the end I had concluded that I probably should just make a sloper with using my upper bust measurements as a full bust and then do an FBA. But I never got around to it, I was so burned out with trying to make a pattern. Yours are the first instructions that do not assume one has a B cup bust and actually show drafting for various cups sizes right away. I will have to give this a try.

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Natalija
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Hi there. This may sound funny, but I am glad I am not the only one who had the same problem. I felt sure there must be others that had the same difficulty as I did. I tried instructions after instructions (Aldrich, Joseph-Armstrong, Gilewska,...

Hi there. This may sound funny, but I am glad I am not the only one who had the same problem. I felt sure there must be others that had the same difficulty as I did. I tried instructions after instructions (Aldrich, Joseph-Armstrong, Gilewska, Knowles, Community College class....) and kept on getting that large armhole problem, or a variety of other issues. (The whole story, which is very long, is in the About Me section of my website). I so understand your comment about getting burned out. I got so frustrated and felt like giving up so many times. I also have very square shoulders and a bit of a rounded back which complicated things further.

You say that you came to the conclusion that you should "make a sloper with [your] upper bust measurements as a full bust and then do a FBA". I also came to that conclusion.... If you want to see that my method is exactly the same as doing this, except doing it in one step instead of two, see this article:

https://www.dresspatternmaking.com/blog/large-bust-adjustment

I hope you do end up making a block that fits. I am so happy I persevered and can now make tops and dresses that fit well. I still get a thrill out of putting on a top/dress with a well fitting armhole and that fits properly across the bust and the shoulders.
Please let me know how you go.

PS: After drafting this email and I looked at the Large Bust Adjustment article, I see that the explanations are not clear and it needs rewriting. Maybe hang off reading it for a week or two until I I have time to redo the article.

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Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Maria Maria
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I am very interested in communicating further. I am working at the moment on adjusting a McCalls "sloper pattern" and I am not very far of, but still am not there. I can not buy most RTW (at least not so they fit nicely) because of the large bust...

I am very interested in communicating further. I am working at the moment on adjusting a McCalls "sloper pattern" and I am not very far of, but still am not there. I can not buy most RTW (at least not so they fit nicely) because of the large bust and also I really do not have money to invest in more patterns, so I very much want to have a basic sloper that I could morph into fitting garments (at the moment I really just want to focus on a fit and flare summer dress - once I get the bodice to fit, I would love to have both darted and princess lined one - then I know I can make variations for skirts - that is the easier part). Thank you again for all this work.

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Comment was last edited about 2 months ago by Natalija Natalija
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Hi! This is a WONDERFUL resource! I’m having trouble finding the side dart placement information. The guide says to refer to page iii but there’s no page iii in the book.

Thanks in advance!

Rae
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi there,

Yes, I see I have neglected to include that information in the booklet. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I will fix that when I can but it probably won't get to it for another week or two. In the meantime, that information is on...

Hi there,

Yes, I see I have neglected to include that information in the booklet. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I will fix that when I can but it probably won't get to it for another week or two. In the meantime, that information is on the website. If you look at the menu at the top of this page under 'Preliminary Information', see the link to 'Side Seam Dart Placement'. Remember it is only a guide - a place to start.

Maria

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Comment was last edited about 1 month ago by Maria Maria
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is a great site and vey helpful for beginners in pattern making.
Thank you

Abeer
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi there,
I am glad you find it useful. I would appreciate it if you could share with others who might be interested.

Maria
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