Here I present the procedure for developing a princess line dress from the Basic Bodice Block. The princess line introduces all the shaping needed for the bust into the seam running through the bust point so that no additional bust darts are needed. It should be remembered that the Basic Bodice Block is not really a finished pattern, but rather a kind of root template from which many different patterns may be derived. This "how-to" gives one possible variant that can be constructed from the Basic Bodice Block. As for all my "how tos", there is lots of room for variation and I try to suggest where these opportunities arise. Also, as indicated for the instructions on drafting the bra, you should probably construct a muslin shell or toile before committing to using the final fabrics if this is the first time you are using the Bodice Block.

This procedure was developed using the following two references as source material :

Winifred Aldrich, Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear, 5th ed., Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, 2008, 215 pp.

Norma R. Hollen and Carolyn J. Kundel, Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method, 8th ed., Prentice-Hall Inc.: New Jersey, 356 pp.

Technique Materials

pencil, paper, scissors, French curve (or dinner plate!), ruler, scotch tape.

12 Comments Sign in to add a post

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    May 12, 2011, 01.34 AMby Jenny Horsley

    Thanks for all of these wonderful pattern blocks. My Winifred Aldrich is in storage along with my pattern blocks at the moment so this is very helpful.

  • Missing

    Aug 23, 2010, 10.57 AMby Louise Chen

    Hi, I have a block that I want to alter to make a princess line pattern. However, it only has one dart in the under arm area. I know that I can rotate that dart to make the shoulder dart, but what should I do from there? Is it possible to add a bit more ease to the side, do a really skinny dart in the waist and draft from there?

  • Avtatar2_large

    Apr 16, 2010, 09.40 PMby seemane

    I’m not sure why, but for some reason I cannot see the Get Instructions (PDF) button/link for this technique :(

    However, a little ingenuity & Google searching produced the desired result! Drafting a Princess Line Dress Pattern from the Basic Bodice Block on PDF file – yipee!

    2 Replies
    • Photoge01_large

      Apr 18, 2010, 03.17 AMby gedwoods

      I have queried the BurdaStyle team about this. The Get Instructions (PDF) link only seems to show up on recent Techniques. I could reload them, but then I’d lose all the comments attached to the current technique – I’d rather not do that. So let’s wait and see what management says.

    • Avtatar2_large

      Apr 19, 2010, 05.47 PMby seemane

      ^ Good idea, maybe BS can fix the link for you. (At least I found a webklink to it and hopefully other people will be able to click onto it to get the PDF file – as I has added it to my post on 16th April ).


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    Aug 31, 2009, 04.01 PMby teodoragodar

    Thank you again. I just wanted to write you if you can upload something like this when I find out that you have already done that! Thank you very,very much!!! You really know how to do it. You are the best!

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    Aug 22, 2009, 08.36 PMby rachellemarie

    Thanks for posting this how-to. It looks pretty simple to go from the bodice block to this pattern. I have one question however—how do you make sure the dress is wide enough at the hips? My hip measurement is bigger than my bust measurement; will the swiveling of the pieces to introduce the flare take care of this?

    1 Reply
    • Photoge01_large

      Aug 24, 2009, 01.43 AMby gedwoods

      Your question is an excellent one and you’re not the only one – most women I know have a larger hip measurement than bust measurement! And yes, the flare will take care of this, provided you keep track of how much extra is introduced at the hip. If you went for a non-flared design, however, you’d have to widen the pattern at the hips. This isn’t always necessary – we introduce several inches ease on the bust measurement, and sometimes this is enough to accommodate the hips as well.

  • Missing

    Aug 21, 2009, 06.38 PMby culturalactivist

    thank you for the tutorial! can you recommand me any pattern making book?

    1 Reply
    • Photoge01_large

      Aug 24, 2009, 01.40 AMby gedwoods

      There is an excellent on-line book on pattern making that is absolutely free. You can find it on the vintage sewing site (http://www.vintagesewing.info/1940s/42-mpd/mpd-toc-short.html), the book is by Harriet Pepin and it’s called “Modern Pattern Design”, published in 1942. There are other books, more recent, but they often cost between 50$ and 150$ – they’re not cheap.

  • Photoge01_large

    Mar 10, 2009, 09.24 PMby gedwoods

    I know what you mean, hcbouma, when my flat pattern book first arrived, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try to figure it out. But once you’ve drafted the basic blocks, there is less line drafting – most of the work consists of slashing and moving pieces of the pattern around. You need to do some drafting to add in embellishments such as pleats or tucks, but my experience is the actual drafting is less than what those books would have you believe. And I will continue to post more how-tos when I get time, to help interested folk over the rough spots!

  • Hilda_bouma_pasfoto_large

    Mar 10, 2009, 03.40 AMby hcbouma

    Inspired by your bodice block etc. I bought myself a pattern making book last week. But when it arrived by mail, I decided to return it. Too much line drafting for my taste. The nice thing about sewing is sewing itself, not the cutting, measuring and other preparations. But Gedwoods: I highly admire the way you dive into the basics and try to learn as much as you can from it. I wish I had the patience to do it.

  • Snow_2010_harris_tweedpredo_rachportrait_aproncontest_032_large

    Mar 8, 2009, 06.31 PMby agladewe

    This is a wonderful tutorial! Explained in a way that makes the whole process understandable. Thank you!

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    Mar 5, 2009, 03.00 AMby unarinord

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

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    Mar 5, 2009, 12.51 AMby lybu

    Hey gedwoods. You are THE BEST. Thank you !

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    Mar 5, 2009, 12.12 AMby ruk

    finally ! a how to for the dress i always wanted to make.i am so glad . thank you so much for this. a princess dress with a flare ,i cannot believe that you wrote a tutorial for just exactly what i was looking for.its just perfect.thanks!

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