Patternmaking: Draft Your Own Bodice

Hello sewers!

Today’s post is something I’ve been dying to have as a beginner sewer. Back then I’ve been up and down, plowing the internet, for the one tutorial that could explain to me how do I make that connection between the shape of whatever garment I wanted, and my physical body measurements. I could always replicate a piece of clothing I owned, but I wanted to make something of my own, to have the ability to invent a design and make it a reality.

This tutorial is meant for you who share the same frustration.
In this tutorial I will try my best to explain this process as simply as possible.
Don’t worry I won’t confuse you with darts or anything too complicated, we’ll keep it beginner level! 🙂

What is a bodice pattern anyway?

A bodice is a pattern you use to draft the most fitted top garment.
Yes, it reaches to your bellybutton :).
In future garments you refer the bodice as a basic guideline, or a template. For other garments, you usually alter the bodice pattern to make it more loose (and of course longer… unless you’re making a crop top), but never tighter, because smaller than this you won’t fit into the garment.

Do you want to sew garments that are tailored for you?? Time to whip out your:

  • measuring tape
  • pen
  • ruler
  • french curve (if you have one; if not, just eyeball it :P)
  • drafting paper (I use a block of recycled newspaper, whatever works)
  • a string or ribbon to mark your waist

and just follow these instructions:

** Here I am drafting only half of the pattern, because the other side is completely identical **

On the left I’ve put a sketch of a body, and on the right is a simulation drafting paper.
Tie string or ribbon to mark your waist. This is the narrowest place on your torso.

Imagine a line starting from the middle of your collar-bone, going all the way down.
From the middle of your collar-bone, measure to the point where your shoulder begins. There’s usually a bone sticking out, right above your armpit.


Find where your neck meets your shoulder. From that point measure to your collar-bone.


Measure from the point of your shoulder to the point your neck meets the shoulder.


Now we’re going to measure the depth of your neckline. You can make it as deep as you please.
Figure where you want your neckline to end on your body, then measure from there to the point your neck meets your shoulder.

Curve it out! This is easier if you have a french curve.


Measure from your shoulder to where your armpit begins.


Do you know how shirts and blouses have seams on their side? Find the point where such a seam would be under your armpit.
From that point measure to the middle of your body.


Curve it out once more! Notice the curve’s going a little bit deeper than its shoulder point.
The reason of that is that this is the opening of the sleeve, and it needs to be really curvy to go around and “hug” your arm.


Again go to that good old “where neck meets the shoulder” point, and measure down to your waist.


Add 7/8″ to that measurement, I’ll explain why later.


Find the place of where a side seam would be on your waist line.
Measure from that point to the middle of your body.


Time to play connect the dots!


Connect these points again, but slightly curve it out toward the bottom.
So why did we need that extra 7/8″ and why did we need to curve it?
Due to the natural shape of women (yes, they have tummies! OMG!), we need to add that extra slight curve to go around the belly. If we had a straight line there, the bodice would pull up.


Copy this pattern to the other side, and add 1″ for ease all around.
Without this ease added, it will be super tight!
And don’t forget to add seam allowance!

Ok, troopers! You’ve finished the front, time for the back!
* For this part you’ll need the help of a friend/mom/spouse, unless you’re super limber haha 😉 *

Copy the point from the front bodice. We’ll need the neckline width point to match.


With the back, it’s easier to find the middle – it’s the spine!
Measure from the spine to the shoulder end.


Measure from the where the neck meets the shoulder down to where the shoulder starts horizontally.
The reason why we’re making different measurements for the back and the front is because what may seem as the same measurement, may change because your back is naturally curved.


Connect the dots!


Figure out where you want your neckline to end on the back. For a basic bodice, it should be high.


Curve it out!


Measure from where the shoulder ends, down to the armpit.


Remember the side seam below the armpit? Measure from there to the spine.


Curve it out! This armhole curve is more subtle than the one in the front. Notice it still goes in a little at the top.


Again use that “where neck meets the shoulder” point, and measure down to your waist.


Subtract 7/8″ from that measurement.


Measure from the spine to the waist side seam.


Connect all the dots!



Copy that pattern, and like with the front part – add 1″ for ease and some more seam allowance.


If you lasted this long, I applaud you 🙂
You can turn this basic pattern to whatever design!
For example – a kimono top:


Good luck,



6 thoughts on “Patternmaking: Draft Your Own Bodice

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