Block Paper Scissors is a patternmaking series featuring easy-to-follow tutorials—no experience necessary to join in! Each time we’ll start with a basic bodice pattern (also called a block or a sloper) with an underarm bust dart and a waist dart. We’ll use that as a jumping off point to create a different bodice design each time.
You can use nearly any basic bodice pattern for this, even if it doesn’t look exactly like the one in the illustrations; the principles will be the same. Make sure you do any and all fit adjustments to the pattern first.
Usually, flat patternmaking is done before the seam allowances are added in. Since most of us are using pattern pieces that have the seam allowances included already, we won’t worry about them unless they interact with our design.
This design is a nod to the breast pocket on a man’s suit jacket. The diagonal seam above the bust is fun to color block, and a little bit of topstitching helps mimic the jacket pocket outline. Tuck a demure Don Draper-esque pocket square inside, and you’ll be ready for an Old Fashioned at your nearest swanky watering hole.
Step | 01
Mark your bust apex on your front pattern piece by placing the pattern piece over your body and aligning the center front and side seam. Mark the fullest point. Draw lines from the end of both sets of dart legs to the bust point.
Step | 02
Cut along the lines to but not through the bust point. Remove wedges.
Step | 03
Rotate the pattern piece to close the bust dart and tape.
Step | 04
Trace the pattern piece, then flip over the center front to the mirror and trace the other side. (You’re basically combining the right and left bodice halves to create one bodice pattern piece.) Cut out a new pattern piece. Mark the grainline parallel to the center front.
Step | 05
Draw a diagonal style line from the left armscye down to right side seam just under the armscye.
Step | 06
Draw the pocket shape over the left bust point. Make the top opening 3” wide (or whatever suits your taste) and keep the pocket sides parallel to the grainline. Round the bottom corners.
Step | 07
Cut along the line and pocket, cutting so that pocket remains attached to the top half of bodice.
Step | 08
Flip the upper piece down over the lower piece, aligning cut diagonal edge. Place the paper behind the lower bodice piece and tape. Trace the pocket shape of the upper bodice piece onto paper.
Step | 09
Cut around the pocket tracing.
Step | 10
Add seam allowances to the upper and lower new bodice edges.
To sew, place the upper and lower halves right sides together and sew across and around the pocket in one swoop, pivoting at the upper corners of the pocket. Snip into the upper corners of the pocket from the raw edge toward stitching. Finish and press the pocket and seam allowance down toward waist. With the pocket smooth and flat, topstitch from the outside ¾” down from each corner of the pocket opening through all layers, as shown.
Continue sewing the darts and constructing garment according to your pattern.