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Learning how to make a bodice pattern is crucial if you want to make clothing that’s tailored to perfectly fit your unique body size.
Unfortunately, most sewists avoid this drafting process as they perceive it to be confusing and complicated. Majority of them believe that this is a thing for the professionals only.
By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll discover how easy and fast it is to make a bodice pattern as a newbie.
Let’s do this:
What’s a Bodice?
For those who might not have heard the word bodice before, it refers to a top that you wear on your upper body part. Making a draft pattern, therefore, involves designing a top.
Learning to make bodice patterns is like unlocking your secret to clothing design in the sense that you’ll be able to easily design just any kind of t-shirt, blouse, and all the other tops you can imagine.
Our guide below is focused on teaching someone who has never done it before on how to come up with a bodice pattern, so we’ll make it simple and easy to understand.
BEFORE you start this process, you should have all your necessary body measurements by your side.
- Across shoulder measurement
- Shoulder to center waist measurement (front)
- Shoulder to center waist measurement (back), and
- Armpit to waist measurement
You’ll also need the drafting paper, a pen, and a ruler system.
For easy comprehension, we’ll divide the pattern making process into 2 main parts…
Part I: Making the Front Bodice.
1. Draw a long vertical line using your ruler, and mark off the center back length on the line. And at the top of this line, measure out (at 90-degree angle) ½ across shoulder width.
2. Starting from the corner, horizontally measure 1/5 of neck measurement plus ½-in. Also, measure down 1/5 of neck measurement plus ¼-in. Connect these two points using a curved line.
3. Now draw a diagonal line that starts from the center front bottom all the way to the point of across shoulder line. On this line, measure the amount of shoulder to center waist and mark it.
4. connect the two points to make your front bodice shoulder line. Then, measure down from the new shoulder point to bust point.
5. From the above bust point, you’ll need to determine your dart.
To do this, you simply subtract your high bust from your full bust measurements. You can then line up the point of dart with bust point and trace your dart size. If the difference you get after subtraction is ½-in, then trace your dart between the two lines.
6. Extend your vertical dart line so that it meets the waistline and then measure it. consider measuring the other dart leg to confirm that it’s the same length.
7. From the 2nd dart leg, draw a 90-degree line that extends out towards the side seam.
8. Take ½ of the front burst plus ¼-in measurement from the center front. Make a vertical line at this point to act as the guideline.
9. Draw a line (the length of armpit to waist measurement) to touch the corner of your bodice bottom and the vertical guideline you’ve made in the previous step.
10. Now draw a horizontal guideline where the side seam connects with the vertical guideline. Along this horizontal guideline, measure from center front ¼ of high burst measurement and mark it.
11. Finally, you’ll need to draw the armscye curve (keeping in mind that the fuller your burst the deeper the curve gets). This curve should touch the guidelines from the above step before it curves up toward the shoulder. Ensure the curve starts and ends at 90-degree angle to the shoulder and sidelines.
Congrats! You’ve successfully made your front bodice.
And now you can proceed to make the back bodice…
Part II: Making the Back Bodice.
1. Just like in the front bodice, you’ll need to start by drawing a vertical line for your back bodice. Mark off the center back length on this line plus ½-in. At the top line, measure out (at 90-degree angle) ½ the across shoulder width.
2. Starting from the corner, measure 1/5 of neck measurement minus 1/8-in horizontally. Measure down 3/8-in. Draw a curved line that connects the two in the neckline. And from the neckline bottom, measure down 1/5 of armscye depth plus ¼-in and mark it. Draw a line (horizontal guideline) at this level.
3. From center back, measure ½ of back burst plus ¼-in horizontally and draw a vertical guideline. And at the bottom of your center back line, draw a horizontal line (at 90 degrees) that’s ¼ of waist measurement plus 1-in (for the dart) plus ¼-in.
4. Mark a line, the length of armpit to waist measurement, so that it touches the guideline from the above step and the waistline.
NOTE: this line can be angled, angled out, or even vertical, depending on your back burst measurement.
5. Time to draw in the back armscye curve. This will likely become shallower than what you got in the front bodice (unless you’ve got a narrow back waist and a very broad upper back).
6. Now measure the shoulder seam by making a mark at the halfway point, and then drawing a vertical guideline from that point all the way straight down to touch the waistline. Draw in a 1-in dart that begins at this line and goes all the way up to touch the guideline even with armscye.
7. Take your front and back bodices and compare them at the shoulder. If you find the back shoulder being longer than the front one, you’ll then need to add a small dart to your back shoulder. Get the difference between the two.
If you need the shoulder dart, you can get it by making a 3-in long dart at the center point of shoulder that’s the width of the difference.
And you’ve now completed the back bodice!
PRO TIP: If you’d like to sew the bodice up to test, add seam allowances to the center back, shoulder seams, and the side seams. Baste in a zipper and sew your darts, side seams, and shoulder.
If you prefer learning by visuals, watch the detailed video below on how to make a bodice pattern from start to finish.
That’s how easy it is to make a bodice pattern as a complete newbie. Remember that by learning how to make a bodice pattern, you’ll open up a floodgate of opportunities in cloth designing as you’ll be able to easily design any top you can imagine—from t-shirts, blouses, and so on. Not to forget that you’ll be able to tailor tops that perfectly fit your unique body shape.