The basic pattern for a stretch bodice

The good news when you sew jersey, stretch or knit fabrics is that the patterns are much simplier than for a non-stretch fabric. Almost no darts. Nevertheless, if you want to make a made-to-measure garment, you still need pencils, calculator and a curved ruler.

Here’s how you can simply realize the pattern of a jersey bodice. The front and the back are done in the same time.

I suppose that you have already taken the following measures: waist, bust, hips, height of the hips, arm-to-arm chest width, arm-to-arm back width, round neckline, shoulder length, front neck-to-waist and back neck-to-waist.

Draw a vertical line XY respresenting both the center front and the center back. On this line place the following points:

AB = height of the hips
BE = front neck-to-waist
BF = back neck-to-waist
BC = ½ BE
CD = ½ EC

Then draw the following perpendiculars on XY:
BB1 = ¼ waist
AA1 = ¼ hips
CC1 = ¼ bust
DD1 = ½ arm-to-arm chest width
DD2 = ½ arm-to-arm back width


To draw the neckline curve you need to trace two perpendiculars
EG = GH = 1/6 round neckline. On the bissecting line EG / GH, measure 2.5 cm and draw the front neckline with the curved ruler by observing a 1.5cm flatness from the center front.

Draw an horizontal line FI. On the bissecting line FI / IH measure 2.3 cm and draw the back neckline HF by observing a 3 cm flatness from the center back.

Place J to have GJ = 1/3 GH. From J, draw an horizontal JK in order to have HK = shoulder length.


Draw the side line with the curved ruler: A1B1
And the last calculation:
B1C2 = (front neck-to-waist + back neck-to-waist) / 4 + 2.5cm.
Join B1C2 through C1.

Draw the front armhole curve KD1C2 and the back armhole curve KD2C2 by obseving 1.5 cm flatness for the front and 1 cm flatness for the back from C2.


Your pattern is now completed. You do not need to add the ease as the jersey tends to ease up already. Try your pattern and adjust the armhole curves if necessary.

This method is taken from the pattern-making book of Teresa Gilewska. I just changed the curve of the back neckline; in the book it is more tricky.

For the first try of this pattern do not choose a cheap jersey and go for something like the wool jersey, which is a bit more expensive more firm than a simple cotton jersay.

So, how do you feel about this method? Rocket-science or not?


15 thoughts on “The basic pattern for a stretch bodice”

  1. Can you show how to sew a PORTRAIT collar. Its the one that sits on the edge of the shoulders and folds down about 3 inches.

    • Hi Ramona, unfortunately I have no idea of what a portrait collar is and therefore I did not sew any until now. But you made me curious about it, so I might try one of these one day

    • I did not find it yet so I used the same pattern as for non-stretched fabrics

      • Which pattern would you use for the sleeve? Your basic fitted sleeve pattern found here or the made to measure sleeve?

        • there is only one on this blog so far, so the made to measure sleeve

  2. Hi! Thanks for sharing this post, I am going to try it as soon as possible since I like stretch fitting, though I had a doubt as soon as I started drawing: shouldn’t be the FRONT neck-to-waist longer than the BACK one, as you said in the “Drafting the bodice pattern” too? Thank you a lot! I can’t wait to try this new method!

    • Hi Beatrice, thank you for reading me. Actually the front neck-to-waist is shorter than back neck-to-waist as in the front you have a lower neckline. For stretch materials, the bust is absorbed by the fiber elasticity and you do not need a longer front, as for woven materials

      • Hi Cristina, thanks for your reply. I could draft this stretch bodice (the back neck-to-waist is 3 cm longer), but I am trying to draft the basic bodice shell and I don’t know how to do it since the figure 2 shows that the front neck-to-waist is longer than the back one and the measurements I took were back 43cm and front 40cm.
        Thank you for your patient, I think I might have skipped something!

  3. To add a sleeve for the stretch fabric bodice, can we just use the other tutorials for basic sleeves found here.. or are there other considerations?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.