Today I was thinking about ways in which I could simplify the making of the bodice. Now, I have a bodice that I’ve made following the instructions in Helen Joseph Armstrong’s book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design and another from Sarai Mitnick’s book, The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress but I wanted to see how I could make one fast and easy, if, let’s say I am too lazy to look for them 🙂
And then I found this video with Peggy Sagers who explains pattern-making by draping. I always thought this was difficult to do, but she explains it very clearly.
One point she makes about the bust darts is that they always have to reach to the bust point (the nipple) and that they have to end somewhere within the bust circle, which is a 3in radius circle, with the centre at the bust point. If a dart does that, then it can be safely positioned in a multitude of ways, either vertically or horizontally.
See how to draft the bust circle below:
Another point that’s actually something I wish I had understood sooner is that the bodice always stops at the real waist. So if you want to make a blouse, you should add as much length to your bodice as you need (maybe you want it to only touch the hipline or to pass it completely, you always need to add that length). It’s funny now because when I first created my bodice following Helen Armstrong’s instructions, I had commented that the bodice fitted me more or less well, but it was way to short.
Measuring the body takes much longer than draping the body, she says. It’s true, how come I didn’t think of that before?
How does she drape? She pins the square piece to the mannequin (my recent madness about owning a body form is bubbling up here, but let’s put a lid on it for now), marks the neck points and the shoulder, then she drapes the paper at the bust point, horizontally, creating a bust dart. She then repeats from the bust point to the waistline, vertically, creating a waist dart.
Another quote that sounds a bit funny in the beginning, but makes a lot of sense: an armhole is created the same way as a neckline: down and out.
She sews the darts starting from the bust point down, arguing that it’s easier to get that first part right, like that, and that if you get wrong the foot of the dart, then that’s going to be encased in a seam anyway. Plus, she sews darts with an overlocker!
A french dart is a combination of the bust dart and the waist dart: you start with your basic bodice with the two bust and waist dart. You then mark the new french dart starting with a few inches up from the side and drag it to the bust circle. Slash open and close the old darts:
Would love to know your thoughts on this technique!
4 thoughts on “How to make a dress or blouse bodice: the easy way”
She sews her dart with an overlock/serger? What?? How!?
Yes, she does. It’s at the end of the video, min 22!
wow, this is great info. Thanks for sharing it. I have been tinkering with pattern making for a while now and taken some classes. It’s always great to see the teachers at work and cutting into fabric with such gusto and limitless fear : ).
Yes, like they know exactly where to cut and twist and bend and there’s no way to fail!