[Module 6] Creating the Flexible Pattern | 4a. Bodice - Extending Length

On a clean piece of paper trace and starting with the Front draw around your Working Template going into all of the Notches and Awl Points and draw in your Guidelines. This is the starting point for drafting your Flexible Pattern.

Just before you make a decision on the length it is a good idea to check that you have the correct ease in the garment for your design that way you can extend it at the correct width all the way down.

You will at this point have inherited the Ease from the Working Template that you chose to use and now is a chance to make a final decision on this. If you do not have Sleeves you may want a tighter fit perhaps 1” – 1.5” of wearing ease with no design ease, or you might want to add in some extra wearing ease or design ease at this point. It is better to do this now before you extend the bodice down lower. To do this simply add on or remove your specified amount of ease down the Side of the Front/Back draft, remember that you don’t have to have the same ease all the way down.

In this example the bodice is from a Close Fit Working Template that had 2” of ease and I would like to make the fit a little tighter so I am taking it in ¼” down the Front and Back Side Seams, therefore a total of a 1” reduction all the way around.

This line is shown in red pen. If I wanted to extend it by 1/4" I would extend out and I have shown this in blue pen.

To get a view of the whole shape of your garment you can now extend its length

You would extend the bodice down from the Lower Hip Line if you prefer a longer top or if you wish to draft a dress.

Now we do have a separate drafting Unit for drafting Skirts that is separate to this Unit refer to Module 6 - Create the Flexible Pattern - 9. Skirts. That Skirt Unit will show you how to create a Working Template for a Skirt that is to be worn as a separate garment. You would not just bring this skirt draft and stick it onto your bodice as the Sides and Darts are not going to line up they have been drafted in different ways.

However there is nothing stopping you from extending a skirt down from a bodice, cutting it off and shaping accordingly and using that or even sticking it back on again as long as it came from the same extended Bodice Working Template and the Waist Line is still the same Length (not including the Dart).

How you would use the other Skirt Unit is to understand how to draft the different Skirt Styles as you would do the same thing on your extended Skirt here for your dress.

For example you would copy out your Working Template, extend it to include the skirt length for your dress, manipulate your Darts in the Bodice and the draw out the Neckline, firm up the ease then you can alter the skirt portion to a different Skirt Style.

This Unit will look at the following;

  • How to do a basic extension on a traced off Working Template with no other drafting changes, to give you a starting point and highlight drafting choices, including what to do if you have already drafted a bodice for that specific Working Template because the order is your choice really.

  • How to extend on a bodice that no longer has a Waist Dart or that has already been cut into pattern pieces.

Extending the Bodice

To keep this really simple let's look at extending the Bodice from the standard Working Template, I am using the full bodice mini version to illustrate this for the Front and the Back refer to the download page for Close Fit Positive Ease Working Template 60 Percent Reduced. I can’t help thinking about playing with those little paper dolls that you cut out and folded outfits over the shoulder when I cut out my Mini Drafting Templates, I love them!

Obviously you can practice on the mini versions too or if you like what I am doing here and just want to go for it then create a Pattern and copy off your Working Template.


Ensure that you have enough paper attached to draw the skirt or to extend to the level of top that you want.

To start with extend the Centre Front Line down.

Measuring from the Waist Line check how long you want the drop for the skirt (or top) and mark the point on the Centre Front Line. Draw out a perpendicular line from this mark a little wider than your draft at the Hip, there is no need to really measure it just eyeball it.

Then draw a line directly down from the Low Hip Line to meet the new line drawn for the base of the skirt or the extended top. You have basically drawn a rectangle below your draft.

By doing this you now have a Straight Skirt or Pencil Skirt Dress pattern with a Jewel Neckline! How long did that take? It really takes just a few minutes to do after all of the hard work of the previous Units you are now going to start to reap all of these rewards.

When you extend your Bodice you should always draft down to the longest length of the skirt.

On an asymmetrical skirt you can determine the exact shape once you have the main outline in place.

This sample pattern just made can be left as it is in one piece and sewn, although you would have lots of Darts to sew and I’m not sure that is preferable for a good looking bust, or you can still play around with the Neckline, Darts and number of seams to be sewn. Really there isn’t a particular order although you will get into your own rhythm. So if you wanted to you could now cut off the Bodice and go to the Dart Manipulation or the Neckline Unit and change it up.

Another idea is to extend the Princess Line down to the Base by measuring how far along the Princess Line was drawn on the Low Hip Line and measuring out by the same amount (or a different amount, for example you might decide to go to the halfway point along the base, this really is a question of design) along the Base and extending the Princess Line down to the Base.

Once drawn in you could split the draft into two for a Princess Seam and or have a Waist seam also.

Here is the same example but with the Waist Line cut and the Waist Shaping removed and the Armhole Dart Closed. Don’t forget to label your pieces, and also that you will need to true a finished pattern adding your Notches, Awl Points and Grainlines and also if you are going to add a Seam Allowance or Hem then you will need to true these too.


The Back just follows the Front. You would extend the Centre Back Line this time and come down to the required length measured from the Waist Line and everything is connected up. You can use the Front Side to check the measurement.

Here is an option for the Back with the Princess Line extended down to the Base just like on the Front measure how far the Princess Line is from Centre Front on the Lower Hip Line and mark out the same measurement on the base (if you used a different measurement on the Front you could use this), then extend the Princess Line down from the Lower Hip Line to the Base Line.

Here it is cut out.

As with the Front I have also cut along the Waist and taken off the Waist Shaping (incidentally the Back Shaping has also been used and cut off).

For A Bodice you have already altered

For a Bodice you have already altered that you then decide to extend you will still have the Hip Part of the Bodice which you would have cut off (this is covered in the Dart Manipulation Unit) you can extend this lower piece in the same way as we extended the full bodice above. If you don’t have the piece to hand just trace it back off again from your Working Template, sometimes these bits just go for a walk but the joys of having a preserved Working Template means that you can always redrawn any or the whole part of it.

You may have a situation where the Waist Dart has been closed off on the Upper Bodice and you still have a Dart on the Lower Bodice as in this photo. The Waist Line is now shorter than the Waist Line on the Lower section but only because of the Dart if you were to measure the actual line then they would be the same. Notice too that when the Waist Dart is closed on the Upper Bodice that the Waist Line is now no longer a Straight Line, it is being pushed down by the gap created in the Side Dart. After sewing this will naturally fit back into the correct position and after all a Test Garment would help you test all of these lines.

For now this Lower Bodice has not been extended to create a skirt but the following options would be just the same with the extension.

You will need to close up the Waist Dart in the Lower Bodice either by sewing it or you could cut it out to create a Princess Line.

In this case you might also extend the Princess Line all the way up the Upper Bodice.

Another way to deal with the Dart is to measure the width of the Dart if you don’t have its size already noted and shave the same amount off the Side ensureing that the section shaved off is drawn approximately level to the point of the Dart.

This is also a way to deal with a Dart in the Back Draft if you want to get rid of it and not sew it.

However I prefer to use the Waist Dart rather than shaving it off as it gives you another place that is going to help to get a better fit on the Front and the Back draft.

The other alternative of course is that you may have ended up with all the Darts or lots of Dart space shifted into the Waist Dart which consequently makes this Dart larger than the lower bodice Waist Dart.

Again this is a mismatch of space and but once sewn the Waist Line will be the same length although you would need to sew them separately and then have a Waist seam. Although you could create a Princess Line all the way up to the Shoulder or Armhole and reattach the lower pieces to the upper draft.

What I am trying to present here is that even if you did not design it and you end up with something that does not seem to match up, with a little thought and using some of the skills learnt this far you can evolve the pattern so that all the pieces are true and will sew together.

So even though you may change a pattern shape entirely as long as you know where you are going to sew which bit and it also helps to know in which order then you can very easily put your pattern to rest and be confident that it is all going to work.

Next Steps

Once you have extended your draft out you can continue working out your Darts and Neckline and Ease and then also defining your skirt shape, so if you follow the Module in order you will be taken around the pattern to make all the choices you are going to need to complete it.


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