The items in the Contouring Menu follow on from each other in the menu order: i.e. it is best to read through these articles in the order they appear on the menu.

The basic Bodice Block Set is for creating garments with sleeves and a fairly high neckline.  If you use this block and try to create a garment with a low neckline, and/or a garment with cutaway arms, it will not work so well.  Depending on your body (bust-cup size and other considerations), the resulting garment may be unwearable.  For those with a standard figure and a small bust-cup, it may not be too bad, but chances are it will not be ideal.

The reason that the basic Bodice Block does not work well for garments with low necklines and cutaway arms, is that it does not follow the contours of the body; it falls in a straight line from the neck, over the bust and down to the waist.  There is usually some space between the garment and the chest underneath, and often underneath the bust.

The basic Bodice Block is also created to be used with Sleeves, therefore it has more ease at the underarm level than is needed for a sleeveless garment.  This results in gaping in the armhole.


The result of using the basic Bodice Block to create garments with low necklines or cutaway armholes, will be gaping in those areas.

There are four parts to this issue, which are covered in detail on the relevant pages.  (These are covered in the pages listed in the Contouring Menu.)

  1. Understanding the need for Contouring (that gaping will occur).
  2. Knowing (determining) where the gaping will occur so that the problem can be fixed during the patternmaking process.
  3. Placing this information on the block (in the form of gape darts).
  4. Solving the problem (fix the gaping, or closing the gape darts).

This is not just limited to necklines and armholes; if you want to create an Empire Line dress, you usually need to reduce the amount of fabric at the under-bust level.  This Empire Line contouring is also marked on the block with other contouring information.

You can put all this information onto the Bodice Block, or you may also want to create a Sleeveless Block. In a Sleeveless Block, two of the contouring items - the block ease and the armhole ease are incorportated into the block and therefore do not have to be redone with each pattern.

Bust Mound Radius

In order to place contouring marks on your Bodice Front, you need to draw the Bust Circle . You will need a compass to draw a perfect circle.

The radius of the circle is the Bust Mound; from the Bust Apex (the nipple), down under the bust where it ends at the ribs.  See Figure 2, which shows the Bust Mound Radius on the body and on the block.  The circle is drawn on the Bodice Front; the centre point is the Bust Point.

For Standard Blocks (used to make garments for the fashion industry), this Bust Mound and the Contour Markings are set amounts. The Bust Mound Radius increases with size, but the other markings are set amounts that are the same for all sizes.  The specifics are covered in detail in later pages on Contouring.

Note for Figure 2: The block shown is the standard block with standard markings, not my block with my contour markings.


Continued in The Need for Contouring (an Example).

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is an extraordinarily clear explanation, well illustrated. Thank you so much. The website as a whole is brilliant and must be a labour of love

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Thank you for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.


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