A basic {BODICE} pattern

sew a simple top

Make a Pattern for Sewing a simple BODICE TOP. 

What is a Bodice ?

It is basically a top, the garment which you wear on the upper part of the body. The method I have described here is a very simple BODICE pattern which you can draft and sew with the bare minimum sewing knowledge. You can experiment with this, give darts or any adjustments you want to it. Add sleeves ( draft different types of sleeves) Change necklines ( Draft different neckline) or any embellishment to make it your own. This is where it starts. 

Related posts

neckline types designs types of sleeves  collar types 

How to make a Bodice top

If you are new to sewing checkout this post with many tutorials on tips on learning to sew and many sewing techniques 

Checkout this detailed post on taking the basic body measurements . If you would like to know more about reading a tape measure properly checkout this post.

The basic measurements you should take are

Desired lengthHow long do you need the top to be ( add 3 -4 inches to this measurement)
Waist lengthmeasure from where shoulder meets your neck to the waist
ShoulderFrom where your shoulder meets the neck to the tip of the shoulder bone
Bust measurementAround the bust
Waist measurementAround the waist
Sleeve length
Sleeve roundWhere you want the sleeve to end
Neck depthBoth front and back.
Hip roundmeasure around hip loosely

The sewing tutorial to make an A-line dress has the method to sew the bodice explained in a different way than given below .

a line dress sewing pattern

You can either make the sewing pattern on a paper or draw directly on the cloth with chalk. Start by marking on paper assuming the line A-B is folded cloth . If you are directly marking on the cloth take the two front and back pieces and fold in  half and take the folded side as AB in the diagram and start marking

bodice pattern

basic bodice


A-B = Length + 2″

A-C = Neck width ( minimum 3″ or as per table)

Bust MeasurementNeck width ( inches)Neck depth (inches)
242 1/44
262 1/44 1/2
282 1/25
302 1/25 1/2
322 1/26
342 3/46 1/2
362 3/47

C-D = Front neck depth ( Minimum 3″ or as per table)

Neck depth ( this is how deep you want the neck to be – Mark the front neck depth and back neck depth);  – Mark from C to the line A-B.  Front neck depth can be taken as per the above table, Back depth depends on your preference 

A-F = 1/2 of shoulder to shoulder + 1/4 inch

F-L = 3/4 inch ; this is for shoulder slopeFrom point –  F on shoulder tip mark down 3/4 inch to point L ( please make this 1/2 inch for kids) Give the shoulder slope by joining the line C-L.

K-N = 3/4 Inch

Mark A-E  which is the armhole depth or the bustline – as per table or 7.5″ for adults. This is the bust line. E-G is marked on this line

Bust measurement inchesArmhole depth

286 3/4
306 3/4
347 1/4
367 1/4
387 1/4
407 1/2
427 1/2

Draw straight line down from F so that it intersects with line E-G  . 

E-G = 1/4 * bust round + 1/2 inch ease

(Ie if my bust is 36 inches, that divided by 4 is 9. Add 1/2 inches ease which will be 9.5 inches ; seam allowance of 1″ shoulde be added later )

A-H = Waist length

P-H = 1/4 * waist round + 1/2 inch

B-M = 1/4 * hip round round + 1/2 inch

Add 1 inch seam allowance along G-P-M

Step 2


Back armhole  – Where the lines from F & G intersected (name it K ) go outside ( measure the distance between G& K and divide by two) . Mark the point as X . Make a curved shape of the armhole from L-X-G – this is the back sleeve line.

To mark the front sleeve line  Mark from K to the inside 3/4 inch for adults and 1/2 inch for kids. Mark this point as N . Draw up a straight line to L . From N Go outside 3/4 inches diagonally to Y as shown in the diagram. L-Y-G is the front armhole line

Draw a soft curved line touching Y from L to G – This is the front sleeve line.( Blue line)

Give the neckline you want – refer here for different necklines

Make sleeves as per the instructions here and you are good to go sewing.Checkout the post on different types of sleeves for your options

Ease – I have added 2 inch ease to the body measurements . You can alter this to your preference as per the standard chart of ease given below

Fit of the garmentExtra to be added to bust , waist and hip measurements
Tight fittingAdd extra -5 to -10 %
Close fittingAdd extra 0- 5%
Comfortable fitting easeAdd extra 7-10%
Loose fittingAdd extra 12-15%

What I do when making this pattern to sew tops is to draw directly on to the cloth with chalk. Both the front piece and the back piece will be kept folded .  I will draw the pattern on the top piece ( which finally will turn out to be the front piece), cut out the back sleeve line and neck, remove the back piece ( which is the back piece now) , then continue cutting the front sleeve line and neckline on the remaining  cloth with the marking lines already there. This way, no need to mark the front and back bodices seperately .Cut the two pattern pieces and makes sure that the lines drawn are all cut away.

basic bodice pattern

basic bodice

bodice pattern

Checkout this tutorial to see how to make facings for the necklines for a clean and neat finish

bodice top

Do the same for the back neck and front neck.Join the shoulder seams . Checkout the different types of seams you can use in your bodice. Join the sleeves. You can add this to a skirt to make a dress or adopt different design features to make it your own. 


I decided to add this bodice to a paneled skirt to make a  long gown. 

bodice top

If you would rather make a more casual fitting top with a looser armhole you can make the bodice as  per the pattern below 

Sewing a basic bodice block for kids 

You can make a similar bodice block for kids . Checkout the post on sewing for children and a ready reckoner of body measurements here. 

Happy sewing

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