Pattern Drafting 101: How to Close a Bust Dart and Move the Fullness to the Hem

comments (2) August 1st, 2008     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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Trace the front and back of your favorite shirt pattern with a bust dart.
Draw a yoke around the neck on the front and back pattern pieces.
Reshape the armhole to the yoke from its original position at the tip of the shoulder seam.
Trace the front and back of your favorite shirt pattern with a bust dart.

Trace the front and back of your favorite shirt pattern with a bust dart.

Photo: jen stern
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Another of my many crafting loves is pattern drafting. I'm in the final stage of launching my own pattern line (jeans, tees, and such), and I thought it would be fun to share some simple pattern-drafting ideas as I go along. In this post, I'm going to show you how easy it is to close a bust dart and move the fullness to the hem, along with a few other simple adjustments that will transform a basic shirt pattern into a stylish tunic. Then join me in the companion embroidery post to make the tunic—if you don't own an embroidery machine, don't worry, you don't need one! I found an embroidered beach cover-up on Cape Cod in a thrift store last week while on vacation. It has beautiful, bright floral embroidery around the neckline and on the front and back...perfect to transform into one of those trendy tunics with the circular yoke around the neck!

What you'll need to draft the tunic pattern:

A traced copy of your favorite shirt pattern
Pattern tracing paper
Clear ruler
French curve or Variform curved ruler
Sharp pencil
Clear tape

Usually pattern drafting is an exact science. When I'm working on a pattern that will be included in my collection, I test, retest, and test again by making sure all the paper pieces "sew" together before I even make my first test muslin garment. I thought it would be fun to start with something really easy. You don't have to measure perfectly or worry if the pieces don't match up. The pattern that we are going to draft here is very forgiving, and I want you to feel free to try it even if you've never even adjusted a pattern before. There are two things you do need to pay attention to. First, draw all your straight lines using a ruler. Second, curved lines need to be smooth. If you don't have a french curve or other curved ruler, you can use a bowl or other circular-edged objects. Because we are going to create a yoke neckline from an existing neckline on another garment, we will fine-tune the pattern pieces as we cut them out and sew them together. So relax, anything that does not measure up perfectly or match can be fixed as we put the tunic together!

Start by tracing a copy of your favorite shirt pattern. Omit any button plackets or facings that may be attached to the center front. Carefully trace the bust dart. If your pattern has waist darts, draw a vertical line through the center of the darts. If your pattern does not have waist darts, measure 1 inch to the right of the bust dart. Draw a vertical line parallel to the center front through this point from shoulder to hem. Measure 1 inch from the point where the shoulder seam starts from the neck opening. Draw a vertical line parallel to the center back, shoulder to hem.

Trace a copy of your favorite shirt pattern
My pattern had waist darts. I traced them from the top point to the bottom point. Later when we split the pattern into center and side sections, we will extend these lines from shoulder to hem.

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Comments (2)

JenniferStern writes: You're welcome! If you need any help visit my website and send me an email!
Posted: 6:03 am on August 5th
bee2200 writes: I have been sewing for years, but never felt comfortable with making my own patterns or altering them, other than adding pockets, until now. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I do plan on coming back to this one from time to time. It was so detailed; I really appreciated that.
Posted: 10:00 am on August 1st
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