Posts tagged #draft it yourself

How to : Draft a simple summer top

Summer is here for all of you lucky people in the northern hemisphere, and I thought it would be a great time to show you how to draft a quick and easy sleeveless summer top! You may wonder what I'm thinking, as most of you know I am based in Sydney, where it is currently quite chilly (well at least as chilly as it gets here), but I really wanted to start showing you how to turn your bodice block into a functional garment (as who really wants to wear a bodice block?) and I haven't shown you how to draft a sleeve yet, so sleeveless top it is!

This is a really simple tutorial and a great place to start if you are trying your hand at pattern drafting.

Where to start


Trace a copy of your front and back bodice blocks without seam allowance. Be sure to also mark both darts on each piece.

Relocate shoulder darts to the waist

Relocate the shoulder darts on the front and back bodices to the waist, using this method or this method

You won't actually be needing the darts in the waist, so you can redraw the hem with a smooth curve, removing the darts altogether. 

Trace the pattern

Trace the pattern pieces onto a separate piece of pattern paper, leaving enough space in between the pieces for alterations. 


It is likely that you will want to lower the armhole of your top for a more comfortable fit. The bodice block is designed to sit right under your arms, and I'd say for a summer top you will want a bit more breathing room. 

Decide how much you would like to lower the armhole by. Mark this distance on the side seam, measuring down from the armhole. Mark this point on both front and back patterns (this is your new underarm point). This is when it's great to have a toile (muslin) to refer to, so you can see exactly how low you want your armhole to be.

It is a good idea to reduce the length of the shoulder seam too. As it stands, it is a decent sized shoulder seam and for a summer top it is likely that you will want something a little slimmer. Remove some of the length from each side (the end close to the armhole and the end close to the neckline) to keep it balanced.

Work out how much you would like to remove from the shoulder and mark this distance on the shoulder seam, measuring in from the armhole. 

Create the new armholes by joining the points marked on the side seam and shoulder seam with a smooth curve. 

Cut along the new armhole line to remove excess from both front and back armholes (or trace off separate to create a new pattern).


For the same reason I suggested lowering the armholes, I suggest also lowering the neckline. Use the same method used for the armholes. On the front shoulder seam, measure in from the neckline and mark the point where you want your new neckline to be. Mark the same distance on the back pattern piece. Also work out how much you would like to lower the neckline by and mark this point on the centre front and centre back. This doesn't need to be the same distance - you may want a low front (or even a low back).

Re-draw the front and back necklines by joining the points marked on the shoulder line and centre front/back with a smooth curve.

Cut along the new necklines to remove the excess from both front and back pattern pieces (or trace off separate pattern, with lower armhole).

Lengthen the pattern

At this stage, the pattern is still only waist length. If you'd like a cropped tank then you're done, but if you'd prefer some extra length then keep working your way through the tutorial.

The best way to lengthen a pattern is normally to slash the pattern horizontally and then add length through the middle of the pattern, so that the hemline stays intact and the silhouette of the garment doesn't change too drastically. In this case though, I'd suggest just adding length to the bottom of the pattern, as it is likely that you will need a bit of extra width around the hips. 


Work out how much you would like to add to the pattern, and extend the centre front, centre back and both side seams by this length. 

Join the lines with smooth curves to create the new front and back hemlines.

Remember to meet each side with right angles so that you get smooth lines when you sew the pattern together. For more on this, check out this tutorial on checking patterns

To complete the pattern, add seam allowance and pattern markings and you're done! 

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How to: Create princess panels


Including panel lines in a design is a good way to eliminate darts, without losing the fitted shape of the garment. They are also a great way to add interest to a design. There are countless variations, and it is also a great way to include more than one fabric in your design if you would like (if you fancy a splash of contrast fabric like me). 

What are princess panels?

'Princess panels' are panels that are shaped around the bust, to create a nice fit (without the need for darts), but can also be an interesting design detail. 


Princess panels can cut through the pattern from the shoulder line to the waist, or they can cut through the pattern starting at the armhole and running down to the waist. I'll show you how to create both options, although they use basically the same method - and it's really up to you which you would prefer. If you are a beginner, I'd suggest drafting the version from the shoulder seams, as it can be easier to sew. The curve required to have princess panels coming from the armhole can be a little trickier to sew (but totally manageable if you've got some pins and patience). 

I will be using the basic bodice in the example, but you can create princess panels on any fitted top pattern with waist darts. 

Option #1 : Drafting princess panels from shoulder seam


1. Trace a copy of the pattern you will be adjusting.

2. Draw a straight line through the centre of both darts. 


3. You will be separating the pattern into two pieces, and eliminating the darts all together - creating a 'side panel' and 'centre front panel' that are sewn together to create the shaping over the bust.

4. Take a piece of pattern paper and trace the side panel piece. To avoid pointy breasts (and to make it easier to sew), you will need to change the rigid angles of the dart arms into a smooth curve along the panel line.


5. On another piece of paper, trace the second panel (centre front panel) once again smoothing out the angles of the dart arms to create a smooth curve. 

6. You now have two separate pattern pieces and no darts!

The next steps are to check that the curves on each piece are the same length (I'll do a post about how to do this next week), add seam allowance and pattern markings (you will need a grainline, cutting instructions, and notches along the curve). 


If you would prefer to have the panel lines coming from the armhole of the bodice, you will need to start with a dart in the armhole. If your dart is located elsewhere (for example, in the shoulder like it was in the previous example) you will need to start by moving the dart to the armhole. 


1. Trace a copy of the pattern you will be adjusting. I will be using the basic bodice in the example (with darts transferred to armhole), but you can create princess panels on any fitted top pattern with waist darts. 

2. Draw straight lines through the centre of each dart. These lines will intersect at the bust point. 


3. Just like in the previous example, you will be separating the pattern into two pieces, and eliminating the darts all together - creating a 'side panel' and 'centre front panel.'



4. Take a piece of pattern paper and trace the side panel piece. Draw a line that follows the lower dart arm at the armhole, and gradually curves as it approaches the dart point (start curving the line a couple of centimetres back from the dart point). Continue the curved line so that it meets the outside arm of the waist dart and continue tracing along dart arm to the waist.

5. You will see that this new line has removed the sharp corner at the bust point.


6. Take another piece of pattern paper and trace the centre front panel, once again creating a smooth curve to replace the dart arms. This time the curve will be concave, rather than the convex curve of the side front panel. 

7. As you can see, to make this curve, a small amount will need to be added at the point of the curve. This will even out the amount that was removed from the side front panel (this small triangle has been relocated from one side to the other).


8. To complete the patterns, you will need to check that the curved seams fit together. You will also need to add notches to the curve (which you can find in the same tutorial) to help guide you when sewing the curved seams together (as curves like this can be very tricky to sew and notches can be your saviour!) and add seam allowance (I'd suggest 1cm or 12mm).

And that's it, you have princess panels!

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Posted on June 8, 2016 and filed under pattern making tutorials.