August 25, 2017

How to Draft a Sweetheart Neckline Bodice Pattern (Pattern Drafting)

So I have been trying to explain how I draft my own patterns for the past few months, with what I would call varying success because I actually find it hard to describe pattern drafting in a way that isn't confusing! While I keep working on how exactly to translate my skills into tutorials, I thought today I would give you an example of how I take my standard bodice pattern and change it up for different designs.

I recently made a rose print dress and decided to make it with a sweetheart shaped neckline with a separate section at the shoulder with gathering. This is an easy pattern modification to make if you have a standard 2 dart bodice pattern already, so here is how I made the bodice pattern for this dress!

Of course, first you want to trace your bodice pattern onto some nice clean paper. I recommend doing all pattern drafting in pencil of course, but I'm using bright markers so you guys can see what I'm doing.

So now that you have a fresh copy of your bodice pattern, draw on the neckline shape that you would like to have. Seen in green above. Remember if you mark your standard bodice pattern with some neckline guides for how low or wide you usually like your necklines, drawing new styles later will be easier to get right. For example I know that I wan't my necklines to always be at least 3 inches above the level of the apex mark on my pattern. You can see above on my pattern the green cross mark of my apex and I marked the same level on the center front line so I could keep that in mind when drawing the neckline.

After you have the sweetheart shape neckline drawn on your pattern, you can draw a line straight from the angle of the neckline to the armscye area. This can be any angle from the neckline, but a 90 degree angle is probably the easiest to sew later. See my line in red above.

Take the time now to cut out your pattern so you can move onto the next steps!

Slice off that shoulder area piece!

And then label it a lot so you don't get confused later.

Above you can see the next step is to create the gathers along this seam line we just created. To do this, I am going to move the side dart of the bodice to the new seam we made. We do this with the slash and spread method of moving darts around. To start, draw a line from one of the side dart legs to the apex, and then from the apex to the place where you want to move the dart. See above in red.

Then cut through these lines right up to, but not totally through, the apex mark. Now you have this corner of the pattern you can swing around.

"Close" the side dart by overlapping the paper along the dart legs and taping it down. Doing this will open a new dart where you had also cut into the pattern to the apex.

Fill in that empty dart/triangle of space with some scrap paper as above.

Almost done now! Add seam allowance to both the edges where you cut off of the shouldery bit from the pattern earlier and the other side where you just moved the dart. (See above!) You are going to gather the fullness you just added to the seam (via moving the dart there) that we made at the start when you sew these pieces together later. For the back of the pattern, just make sure that you redraw the back neckline to match at the shoulder seam with the new front neckline potentially being narrower now after you changed it. That's the pattern finished! So you will just gather the excess fullness (see the wiggly red line above) to fit the other piece we cut off at the start. See the finished dress of mine at the start of this post to see how it looks when it's all sewn together!

I hope this gives a bit of insight into how I modify my standard bodice pattern for different designs and projects. Doing a pattern modification like this is super simple and because I know my standard bodice pattern fits, I don't have to worry at all that the new changed bodice won't fit. Everything drafted from a sloper or standard bodice pattern that fits you is still going to fit you even if you move a dart or make a change as long as you don't forget to add seam allowances back on or something silly like that. (Which I did all the time when I first started, no worries)

I have another bodice style to draft this weekend, so I'll try and document that process too!  I have two last summer projects to finish and wear before fall truly beings! I love fall so I can't wait to start on some more autumn inspired projects, but I have to finish these other projects first! Have a good weekend everyone!


  1. Huh I like that dart shift! I don't know as I would have thought to do that. it looks nice, and that's very simple to adjust. I know what I'm gonna have to try!


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