[Module 6] Creating the Flexible Pattern | 4c. Bodice Necklines

The Neckline shape can make or break a dress and it is a good idea to choose one that you are comfortable with and that you think will be flattering for you or your client and don’t forget the Back. The Back does not have to be the same shape as the Front and with our Flexible Pattern idea you could draft a number of Back draft options for your Front, or of course a number of Front options for your Back. I would recommend that you actually do this as you are drafting while you are concentrating on the pattern, it does not take long to whip one up so while you are focusing all your brain power on your draft then try out different options each time with a view to creating a Test Garment that you can swap Backs and Fronts to test out all of your drafted options. Yes it does take longer but you will have invested time into a very Flexible Pattern that will just keep on giving.

To some extent the previous Unit Dart Manipulation goes hand in hand with decisions on Necklines for example a wide Neckline and shorter Shoulder will mean that there is no room for a Shoulder Dart on the Back or on the Front. So you may need to refresh on the last Unit as you will need to manipulate Darts all the way through this Unit.

After you have drafted your Neckline you will need to move on to choose another Drafting option to continue until your pattern is completed;

  • A suggested place to go is to look at Facings, Linings and Bindings as your bodice drafting will be fresh in your mind it makes sense to consider how you are going to finish the edges of the Neckline and Armhole and those pattern pieces will need drafting.

  • Another place to look is pleating and gathering just in case you want to do any extra drafting changes to the shape.

  • Also fastenings will be useful as you may need to understand how to draft in a zip closure to a bodice.

There are a few other decisions that you will need to make in order to draft a Neckline;

  • Darts - Which Darts you would like or need to use, this was covered in the last Unit.

  • Low Neckline Darts - To Determine if the Neckline Chosen needs a Neckline Dart to stop the Neckline gaping. Also if you want to use Neckline Darts, or create space for gathers or pleats or tucks then it is probably best to manipulate everything out to the Side Seam as a holding point then draft the Neckline shape then draw a Style Line in the new Neckline and then shift the Dart space back into the Neckline, it is better this way than trying to get the right shape on a Neckline that you have already placed Darts onto. I guess what I am saying here is that you can shift Darts alter outlines and then keep shifting Darts until you are happy with the result. Sometimes you change your mind and your design it’s that simple.

  • Neckline - Which Neckline Style do you want to create and how low it is going to be on the Front and the Back.

  • Shoulder Width - How wide does the Shoulder need to be to support the fabric for the silhouette.

  • Finishing - How is the Neckline/Bodice going to be finished internally e.g. facing, lining, binding etc. because that can have an effect on the drafting or vice versa.

  • If your neckline is < 23” all the way around you will need to consider using a fastening such as a zip so that you can get into the garment, review Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft – Closures.

In the interest of saving paper the illustrations below are done using the Close Fit Positive Ease Working Template but you would use your Working Template Copy, unless of course you want to have a play with the Mini Drafting Template versions supplied on the Downloads page which is really great fun to try out any ideas you may have before you cut into your painstakingly copied out Working Template.

Also coloured pens have been used here to make things clearer where you would be simply using your pencil.

You will need to true up your draft and it’s a good idea to do the truing as you draft or you can leave it all to the end. Refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Truing a Draft if you need to review how to do this for all seams, Notches, Awl Points and Grainlines. I will not be adding these in in this chapter as the Auxiliary Reference information covers this off.

Some Considerations Before you Start Drafting

Neckline Width

You should consider Neckline Width for every Neckline that you draft.

As we know from looking at alterations, as you change one pattern piece it can have an effect on an adjacent pattern piece and by changing the Working Template Neckline you are potentially changing the fit.

When repositioning Necklines you will be affecting the drape of the garment as everything hangs from the Shoulders. By changing the High Shoulder Point you are removing fabric from the Shoulder and reducing the amount of fabric used to drape from the Shoulder if that makes sense. Therefore the Back still needing to drape across the Back Shoulders and support the Front with less fabric which can cause the Front to gape.

As the Front Neckline increases in width away from the Centre Front Line, the Back needs to increase by slightly more to help with the curve of the Back and to draw out the Front pieces thereby holding them back. Gaping in the Front is usually fixed by either bringing the Front High Shoulder Point Closer to the Centre Front Line or by shifting the Back High Shoulder out further to pull the Front tauter across the Neckline. This was covered in Auxiliary Reference Information - Test Garment Creation - 6. Fitting a Test Garment.

After that convoluted explanation all that this means is to some extent on each body this is a matter of trial and error and a Test Garment is really the best way to check all of your Necklines so it is definitely recommended to do this once the Flexible Pattern has been drafted.

Whilst drafting though it is a good idea to keep this in mind for all Necklines. The wider the Front Neckline gets from the Working Template the more measurement you add to the Back Neckline to draft it and it is a sliding scale.

It is a simple process and you will do it time and time again. You need to work out how wide the Front Neckline width is by extending a guideline straight up from the Centre Front, then squaring a line over to the new High Shoulder Point and then measuring this line.

So this photo shows the extended Centre Front Line in Blue and a perpendicular line from this to the new High Shoulder position shown in red, this is what you would measure.

The Back Neckline width must be larger than the Front Neckline width, and you would need to determine by how much it is larger by looking at the new High Shoulder Point position on the Shoulder Line and you will be adding on anything up to 3/4” to get the Back Neckline width.

  • If the new High Shoulder Point on the Front is close to the original Working Template High Shoulder Point then you would add only a small amount say 1/8” to the Front Neckline width to get the Back Neckline width.

  • If the new High Shoulder Point is around halfway across the Shoulder Seam then you would add on around 3/8” (i.e. half of ¾”) to the Front Neckline width to get the Back Neckline width.

  • If the new High Shoulder Point is closer to the End Shoulder Point then you would be looking at adding around 3/4" to the Front Neckline width to get the Back Neckline width.

Anything in between these measurement and you adjust the amount accordingly from 0 – ¾” or more if you feel you need it.

The measurement for the Back Neckline width can now be determined as = Front Shoulder Neckline + the extra for the Back + and if you are sewing the Back Dart you will need to include this too and add it on so that the Back Shoulder Line does not end up smaller than the Front.

This should get clearer as you work through the instructions for each Neckline Category below, it is enough right now just to know that you will need to do this to set the Back Neckline width. At the end of the day it is not a big deal if you forget as it will become quite obvious during fitting the Test Garment if you have any gaping in the Front. It only becomes an issue if you don’t do it and don’t do a Test Garment – you have been warned!

Low Necklines

If you have a low Neckline then you will need to be careful that the Neckline does not gape away from the chest as it drapes over the bust. The way you determine if the Neckline is low is to draw in the Radius on the draft. The Radius measurement is on your measurement sheets, and you will need your compass to draw it onto the draft. Set the compass to the measurement for the radius and placing the point of the compass on the Bust Point simply draw out a circle. The circle on the draft roughly shows you the breast position on the draft, I say roughly because the Radius was the measurement from the nipple to where the bra boning would be but some peoples breast are bigger above than they are below.

If the Neckline that you have drafted at its lowest point is lower than the top of the radius you will add a dart.

The size of the dart is determined by how low the Neckline is so draw a line across from the radius to the Centre Front.

In this photo the Neckline is red and the line in blue shows where the top of the radius hits the Centre Front.

Then measure down from this point to the base of the Neckline.

Take that measurement and roughly divide this amount by 1.5”. For each 1.5” that you have you have add on 1/8”. So for example if your measurement is 3” then you will need to use 2/8”.

To this measurement you will then add on your Shoulder Dart width which is on your measurement sheet to get the total size of the Neckline Dart.

The Dart is drawn to either the Bust Point or the Lower Bust Point, when determining where to draw it to consider how large your Side Dart currently is, if it is already large then you will probably want to take the space from the Neckline Dart and shift it into the Waist Dart so taking it to the Lower Bust Point might be a better option.

The Dart is drawn away from the base of the Neckline by at least around 1” and it’s better to place it somewhere below the top of the radius.

The Neckline Dart is then cut and closed.

The Neckline will then need to be redrawn.

Here is what the shape would look like with the Waist and Side Darts trued.

However when the Neckline Dart was closed the Centre Front line was skewed out and you don’t want a flare of fabric at the Centre Front Waist so it is a good idea to take ½” off the Centre Front Waist up to the Centre Front Neckline. This basically reduces your Waist by ½” so you could take this back off the Waist Dart to get the space back.

Now the Centre Front is not perpendicular to the Waist so you would not be able to cut the Front on a fold as the other side would be on a tilt or bias you will therefore need to cut 2 Front pieces and create a seam at the Centre Front.

Here the photo shows the extra ½” taken back out of the Dart.

Now just a word about a low neckline in the Back Draft as you do not have a radius to work with and also less Darts to play with. But you still want to ensure that the Back does not gape the lower you get (unless that is a look you are trying to achieve of course).

The thing to do is to bring in the Side Armhole in closer to make the Back tighter and similar to the front it is a sliding scale, as the Back Neckline gets lower the tighter you get with the Side.

The scale drawn in the Side here shows an approximate amount to use to determine how far to bring in the side and it depends where the Neckline base is.

This photo shows three V Necklines drawn onto the Back, I have also drawn in the Base Armhole line out to Centre Front as this was not included in the Working Template that this mini sample was taken from.

You can see that the red Neckline has not had any change as it is approximately in line with zero on the side on the scale.

The green Neckline hits the ½” point on the scale so the Side Base Armhole is brought in by ½” and the blue Neckline goes all the way down to the Waist so the side is brought in by around 1”. Now this is not an exact science so you will need to test this out when you create your Test Garment. The Armhole is redrawn from the new position on the Base Armhole Line.

Back Shaping

Before we get down to drafting just a quick word about the Back Shaping. On the Working Templates with wearing ease you will still have Back Shaping and a Waist Dart.

If you determine that you do not want to use your Back Shaping then you will need to add on this measurement to your Waist Dart otherwise your Waist will be too wide so keep this in mind as you draft your bodices.


There is a myriad of alternatives that you could choose with Necklines and I am sure that you have some great designs that you want to try out. In order to explain how to draft different Neckline shapes they have been grouped here into categories and by no means is this list of categories all-embracing its purpose is to illustrate some of the more common Necklines and as time goes on I will add in more to the list so apologies if your specific design is not on here yet.

Refer to the Download page for Style Sheets to see which styles are currently documented here with instructions, as I said this will change over time, they are marked with a green dot.

For the purposes of the instructions below no sleeves are being added therefore all Armhole Darts have been manipulated out.

Boat Neckline

The Boat Neckline is a higher and wider Neckline compared to other Necklines and is I think flattering to all age groups and gives a glamourous finish to a top or a dress. I think of ‘Breakfast in Tiffany!’, although when you actually look at Audrey Hepburn’s dress the Neckline is actually more rounded than Boat Neck.

The Boat Neckline is similar in appearance to the bottom of a boat in that it goes flat along the Neckline then curves up to the High Shoulder Point generally. It has a shorter Shoulder Seam than other Necklines although the Shoulder Line needs to be wide enough to support the fabric, around 1 ¾” is a good width to start working with.

To draft the Boat Neckline;


  • Copy off the Working Template from the Waist up on the Front and Back Drafts a close fit bodice does look good with a Boat Neckline you have to work out how close is the most comfortable for you. I think 1 ½” – 2” wearing ease for a Working Template is a close but comfortable fit, although if you have a smaller body type say less than a size 12 you might want to reduce this.

  • Manipulate out the Shoulder and Armhole Darts on the Front draft into either the Side Dart or the Waist Dart depending on the dart lines required on your design. A Boat Neck looks good if it is kept clean so moving everything into the Waist Dart is a good look although a Horizontal Side Bust Dart does replicate the line of the Neck and may help with fit on a larger bust. If using both the Waist and the Side Darts I would take the Side Dart to the Bust Point and back it of around 1” and potentially bow out the Dart and take the Waist Dart to the Lower Bust Point, back if off also and potentially bow out the Dart.

Here are the Shoulder and Armhole Darts manipulated into the Side Dart.

  • Keep the Centre Front Neck Point high. Usually where it currently is on the Working Template is a good position.

  • Decide on the width of the Shoulder Line measuring from the End Shoulder Point. To start with try 1 3/4” if you are not sure, you can always change this during a fitting if you change your mind.

Draw in the Neckline from the new High Shoulder Point to the Centre Front Neckline, shown in red below.

Here another option has been drawn, you can play around with the curve until you have a shape that you think you will like.

  • The Front Neckline width needs to be measured to help work out how wide the Back Neckline width should be. Shown in blue below.

  • As explained above draw a line to extend the Centre Front straight up, then the squared off line to the new High Shoulder Point. Measure from the Centre Front out to the new High Shoulder Point, this is the new Front Neckline Width and the extra that you will need to add on to the Back Neckline will be around 5/8” to 6/8” looking at the position of the New Front High Shoulder which is just a little further out than half way.

  • As the Neckline is high no Neckline Dart is required for extra shaping.


  • Before starting remove any Back Shoulder Dart extension that was made previously truing the Dart on the Working Template by drawing a straight line from the Shoulder End Point to the High Shoulder Point.

  • To work out where the new Back High Shoulder Point should be and therefore the Back Neckline width as before extend the Centre Back Line and square off from this line. Now the amount you square off by will be the Back Neckline width = Front Neckline Width + Extra measurement for the Back say 5/8” in this case as the Front High Shoulder Point was further out from the centre Shoulder Line + the Back Dart width as we are sewing this Dart.

  • So draw a line perpendicular and squared off from the Centre Back line out by the new Back Neckline width amount, the ruler will need to end on the Shoulder Line so you will need to slide it up or down the Centre Back line until you hit the Shoulder Line at the correct measurement. Shown in blue below.

  • The Neckline at Centre Back will give a better curve or Boat shape if it is lowered a little try ½” to ¾” down to start with and draw in the new Neckline and see how it looks. Draw the line squared off for ½” at the Centre Back then a gradual curve up to the High Shoulder Point. You can always redraw it until you like the shape and position.

A few attempts were made here before a decision was made.

  • Next consider the Back Shoulder Dart. It is a good idea to keep the Dart in the Back to help with shaping around the shoulder, it can also give you a place to take in any further excess on the Back if you did need to. Obviously the Dart is now no longer in the centre of the Shoulder Seam as the start of this has been moved and it may even be partially in the Shoulder Seam and partially in the new Neckline as is the case in this example. Considering the new position of the High Shoulder Point and the fact that there may be binding or facing, seams and Dart bulk it makes sense not to have the Shoulder Dart too close to the Shoulder High Point, visually it will look better if the Dart is at least 1” further away from the High Shoulder Point so redraw the Dart further into the Neckline if you need to move it but do not change the width of the Dart.

Here you can see that the Shoulder Dart has been totally redrawn on the old Shoulder Line further into the Neckline and keeping the Dart the same width as before. The old Dart has been crossed out.

The photo below shows that the Dart that will actually be sewn is now very small but this is fine unless you still have a very wide Dart in which case you may want to consider lengthening it a little for aesthetic reasons.

  • From the new Position of the High Shoulder Point measure out for the Shoulder seam width that was denoted on the Front Draft which in this example was 1 ¾”, this will push the seam out from the current Shoulder End Point. Draw the new Shoulder Line

  • Redraw the Armhole from the new Shoulder End Point.

  • Now let’s just consider this a moment the Dart width that was added to the new Back Neckline width has ended up being almost half the size that it was originally as the Neckline has shifted down and caused the reduction. So we are sewing a Dart around 2/8” less that what we added onto the Back Neckline. During fitting we will need to keep this in mind, if we find that the Front Neckline is too tight we might need to bring the Back High Shoulder Point back in 2/8” but I would let this go for now and try it out with the Test Garment.

  • You would then true up the Dart and Shoulder Seams across the Front and Back Draft (although this is a little tricky on the mini version as they are not exactly the same scale).

Rounded Necklines

This category has been defined to include the following variations;

  • Jewel

  • Keyhole

  • Kurta

  • Round

  • Scoop

  • Split

  • U Neck

  • Wide

For each the samples here the Armhole Dart has been shifted into the Side Dart which is been set to the Bust Point and the Waist Dart to the Low Bust Point. The Shoulder Dart has also been manipulated into the Side Dart however you may wish to keep your Shoulder Dart especially if you are using a Princess Seam to assist with shaping. Dart manipulation is your choice we are just focusing on the Necklines for this instruction.

Rounded Necklines are very easy to work through so each of these options will be shown as there are above however it is your choice as to how high or low you want to go or where you position your High Shoulder Point or how wide you want your Shoulder Seam to be.

For the Neckline you are drafting, copy off your Working Template and manipulate your Darts as you would like them for your design, keep in mind that if you keep your Shoulder Dart then you will need to ensure that when you determine your Shoulder Line length that you do not include the Shoulder Dart width, and also that it lines up with the Back Dart if you are using that too as it does look better if they meet on the Shoulder Seam. Don’t forget that after drafting the Front you will need to determine the Neckline for the back and ensure that you calculate how wide the Back Neckline.


The Jewel Neckline is basically a rounded Neckline that is very modest and is above the collarbone, basically what you already have on your Working Template. It is called Jewel as it would frame a necklace or a brooch to show it off and therefore is often used as a bridesmaid dress. I think this neckline looks really nice with multiple Neckline Darts or Tucks emanating downwards or to the Bust Point or Armhole. The previous Unit covered Neckline Darts, but you can also review Tucks on the Tucks and Pleats Unit?????

It is also often used to create a layered effect as chiffon or lace over a sweetheart or strapless bodice.

So you pretty much already have this Neckline in place. By bringing in the Shoulder End Point you can change the silhouette more even down to removing the Shoulder Seam entirely and using a strap, obviously you would only do this on lighter fabric as the whole dress load would be on this strap.


A Keyhole Neckline is basically where an area has been cut out and this could be a small cut out or a larger cut out you simply have to decide the shape and the size. The Neckline is determined then the keyhole is simply drawn onto the draft but remember that you will either need to add in some seam allowance on the final Flexible Pattern if a facing or binding is going to be attached.

Some things to consider are;

  • Is the keyhole going on the Back or Front Draft?

  • How many keyholes would you like?

  • What shape is the keyhole going to be?

  • How large and wide are the Keyholes going to be?

  • Are you going to use any Neckline Darts or gathering with the keyhole?

  • How are you going to finish off the keyhole at the Neckline, using a fabric strip or binding or a tie?

The following draft has simply had a tear drop shape drawn on finishing at the Neckline. A binding finish will hold the pieces together across the Neckline.


So technically this is not the real name for this Neckline, as a Kurta is an Indian garment as I am sure everyone will be happy to point out. So you call this shaped Neckline what you will. A Split or Kurta Neckline as I am calling it is really a cut out V from the Neckline and bound by binding or a Facing finishes off the edges.

This is how it would look drafted, you would determine how deep and how wide the Neckline and the V cut is going to be and as we are only drafting half the front it is basically a simple straight line shown below in red.


For any other round neck scooped or otherwise the decision is simply how wide how, and how scooped or deep do you want the neckline. The following draft shows a variety of different depths and shoulder widths, you would make your decision how you like it.

Ensure you consider if a Neckline Dart will be required on a low Neckline – you can find instructions for this above in this Unit.


This includes the following variations;

  • A Symmetrical

  • Basket

  • Cornered

  • Diamond

  • Star

  • sweetheart

  • Square

  • High

  • Scalloped

When drafting as before determine your Front Darts, the length of your Shoulder Line, your Front Neckline shape, the Armhole shape, and if working on a low Neckline determine if you will need a Neckline Dart and if so how large it will be and to which point it will be drawn, also your Back Neckline Shape, and the Back Neckline width.

It is basically then just a matter of drawing the shape on the draft and here are a couple of examples (lines shown on the same Front draft in different colours).

You do however need to consider that the more complex or intricate the shape you draw the more difficult it will be to construct when sewing as you will need to consider how you are going to finish off the edges of the shaped neckline.

Cowl Necklines

This includes the following variations;

  • Slight Cowl

  • Pleated/Gathered Cowl (you will need to refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft – Pleats to review how to add extra fabric to make pleats or gathers. In the sample below a style line is cut the Front you could use the Cross Chest Line then the piece below has pleating/gathers.

  • Draped Cowl (this topic will be added when the Draping Unit is uploaded into the system coming soon).

You can draft a cowl straight off your Working Template Draft, however when you have a garment that has lots of drape to it then it is a really nice option to create the pattern by draping the fabric onto the Body Form and then creating the pattern from that. This is covered in Module 7 – Create the Draped Pattern (which will be added to the system at a later date).

A Cowl Neckline really needs a ‘drapey’ fabric perhaps something lightweight and also cut on the bias can help with the drape. If you are using a knit fabric for this neckline don’t use the Negative Ease Working Template use a Close Fit Working Template and reduce the side seams by ½” or more because you need all of your Darts available to you to help with the draping.

Let’s have a look at how you can create a drape straight from your Working Template.

The Cowl will have an all in one facing rather than a separate one and you will not need to interface it remember you are looking for a draped effect.

Also if you are cutting the Front on a bias it will help to have a full Front draft to cut fabric from rather than half a draft. But we will create half the draft initially you would then have to trace it off to create your full copy, by tracing one side then flipping it over and tracing again for the other side. Obviously if you are using a knit fabric you would not need to cut on a bias grain. You could cut your back on a straight Grainline if you are using a Boat Neck on the Back, or you could also do a Cowl Neck but a Boat Neck would be more supportive of the Front.

As the Cowl Neck will usually have a continual facing you will need to ensure that you have plenty of paper above to draw the facing onto for both the Front and the Back Draft.

An alternative to a continual facing is to attach a facing of different shapes. This concept is covered in Auxiliary Reference Information – Facings Experiment which is a short work through module to consider this option. It is recommended to finish the Necklines Unit before attempting this Experiment in Facings.

A Cowl also looks more stylish if you don’t have any darts to sew so manipulate everything out on the Front Draft and shave off the Darts on the Back or if you are doing a Boat Neck on the Back shave off at least the Shoulder Dart on the Back Draft.

On the Front draft manipulate all of the Darts in to the Bust Line shifting the space into a Centre Front Bust Dart to the Bust Point.

Draw a line straight up from Centre Front, from the lower part below the Centre Front Bust Dart.

Define the width of the Shoulder Line, say from 1/5 – 2” from the Shoulder End Point.

Square a line for the new Neck Line from the new High Shoulder Point out to the Centre Front line that you extended.

For the facing come down at least 3” – 4” from the new Neckline Line on the Centre Front and also come down the same below the Armhole on the side, it does help to draw the facing in a different colour. Then draw a curve for the facing to join the two marks up, try to keep the line above the Bust Point.

Now you are going to draw the facing extension so fold along the Neck Line folding the top back and then trace off the outline (Front, Facing, Side, Armhole and Shoulder) and the Facing Line so that you can draw in the facing extension when you open it out.

Confirm the fold line on the draft.

This is photo shows the shape cut out.

At this point I like to hold up this shape onto the Body Form or the Client if they are available because I like to see how the Neckline looks along the Front and to decide if I think the Cowl will be ‘drapey’ enough, keep in mind that the drape on this Cowl is only slight.

If you feel you need to add in a little extra fabric the best way to do this is to take from the Bust Dart then add that back to the bottom where the Waist is so let’s have a look at that.

You would ignore the Facing extension that you previously drew and perhaps even just cut it off for now, you can add it in again later.

I have started a new draft just to make it clear how to do this adjustment. You would draw in a Style Line from the Bust Point to the Neckline and cut this line and also cut the Side Dart back open to create a place where you can pivot.

Then close up the Side Dart more which then give you extra space/fabric along the Neckline.

You can see here how the Neckline opens up as the Side Dart closes.

However this would leave you short on the Side so extend the side down by the same amount that you closed up on the Side Dart.

You may also need to straighten up the Waist Line.

Here is the same draft with the opened Dart at the Neckline closed and the Neckline straighten out. Your Neckline must be straight as you need to fold along it to trace out the Facing which would be the next step.

A Test Garment would give you a view of the best lines for the Side, Waist and Neckline and if you need to add in more on the Neckline you can adjust accordingly during the fitting. However you need to remember that you pattern must lie flat so you will need to be considerate as to where you take space from and where you add it.

Then draft the Back, the same size Shoulder Line as the Front from the Shoulder End Point and draw a straight line from the new High Shoulder Point to Centre Back and then draw the extended facing in the same way as you did in the Front ensure that the measurement at the Side is the same as the Front for the Facing so that it can join up.

If you find during testing that you don’t have quite enough drape happening and the neckline needs more fabric then you can try drawing a Style Line from the Neckline down to the Bust Point and cut the Style Line and cut the Side Dart Line back open. You can close up the Side Dart Line further giving the extra space to the Neckline.

You will then need to redraw the Side and add on the measurement that you just lost in the Dart to the bottom of the Waist. Then redraw the Neckline straight, it has to be straight in order to fold it to trace off the Facing.

V Necklines

This includes the following variations;

  • Décolleté

  • Halter

  • Spaghetti

  • V Neck

Let’s sub divide these Necklines a little further.

The Décolleté, Spaghetti and V Neck are created in much the same way as the Square and Shaped Necklines i.e., manipulate the Darts then draw the shape on the draft, noting how wide the Back Neck will need to be and determining if you are using a low Neckline and consequently if you need a Neckline Dart.

In the case of a similar neckline to the Spaghetti strap look above you would simply draw the M shaped Neck/Armhole and the straps would be added on as a separate piece.

A more complicated example would be a low V Neck as shown in the last illustration above so let’s have a look at this one. If is a Neckline that would not allow much breast support so possibly one for a smaller bust.

All of the Darts in this demonstration have been manipulated to the Waist which on a larger bust would give an extreme sized Dart so not for a large bust really, you would have to consider placing a Side Dart if you have a large bust for this Neckline I think.

The Neckline is drawn in, and I have gone low with this but still left some Centre Front to work with. This Neckline would work better with a Centre Front seam to assist with the fit. If you did this on the fold you would not have an opportunity to tighten this in the Front and risk the breasts falling out even with all the tit tape in the world this would never do!

As this is a low Neckline you would need to work out how wide the Neckline Dart is going to be using the calculation for the Neckline Dart shown at the beginning of this Unit.

The Dart it cut and closed….get ready for it!

I don’t know why but this step always makes me uncomfortable, I dont have OCD but, big intake of breath! But don’t panic we will soon sort this shape out.

Looking at the Centre Front that has been flicked out we need to bring this back in otherwise you are going to get a flare at this point. Look to bringing this back in ½” – ¾” at the Front Waist up to the Centre Front at the base of the new Neckline.

You will then take this measurement off the Dart equally on both sides to add this space back into the Waist Line so that you are not short in the Waist.

True up this Dart ensuring that the Bulk is facing away from the Centre Front, you don’t want each sides Dart Bulk to clash in the centre of the garment. Also as it is a large Dart you can add Seam Allowance and remove the Dart Bulk.

Now looking at the Neckline shape again you will need to smooth this back out into a straight or a slightly curved line which can look softer for a V Neck.

Just to make everything clear here is what it looks like when it is cut out.

Now if at this point you feel that the wide Waist Dart is going to create a very pointy bust you can always back it off remember or bow out the Dart for extra shaping if you want a really close fit that can look nice or split the dart and recreate the Side Dart. Or another way to deal with it would be to create a Princess seam as well as using a Centre Front seam.

Here is what it would look like with the Waist Dart backed off.

If you have a low V on the Front it is better to have a higher neckline on the Back to support the Front. However if you are going for a low V on the Back then ensure that you review how to deal with a low Back Neckline covered near the beginning of this Unit.


As with the V Neck you are manipulating all of the Darts so a Princess seam will give you the option of creating a better fit although you would not be taking the Princess seam to the Shoulder as you would not have a Shoulder in a Halter so the Princess Seam would go into the Armhole and a high Armhole position would be an easier seam to sew. The Princess seam also mirrors the V neck line in a Halter so it is also aesthetically pleasing.

Usually with a Halter the Back is the same as a Strapless Neckline shown in the next heading so you will need to skip down follow that instruction to get your Strapless Back pattern pieces.

Looking at the Front Draft then, manipulate out the Shoulder Dart and the Armhole Dart into the Side Dart. Draw on the V Neckline and draw in the Princess Style Line to the Armhole.

If the Neckline is low add the Neckline Dart.

Cut out the Princess Line and close the Side Dart and cut off the Waist Dart. Cut the Neckline Dart and close it then smooth out the Side and the Neckline. Don’t forget when you true the Princess seam it should be the same length on both sides of the pieces so it is worth measuring this to ensure it fits perfectly (if you are out just extend or reduce around the Armhole.

Define the width of the Shoulder and where you would like the Armhole to finish and usually this is lower as you have a Strapless Back, then draw in the Armhole. Ensure that when you draft the Strapless Back that you ensure that the side is the same size as the Front.

The next thing to do is to draw the strap. The length of the strap is up to you it could fasten at the back of the neck or tie at the back of the neck with the bow and tie hanging down or cross over and be sewn or a fastening attached to the Back Neckline. Keep in mind that the strap needs to flow into the neckline and decide how wide you want it to be all the way up and determine the end shape.

Here are the Front Draft pieces cut out.


This includes the following variations;

  • Arch

  • Bateau

  • Grecian

  • Off Shoulder (I would include Portrait in this unless the sleeves are on the shoulder)

  • One Shoulder

  • Strapless


The Arch and Strapless Necklines are made in the same way it is just a matter of drawing a different shape on the Front Draft.

A Strapless Neckline usually has a Princess seam in Front and in the Back and the Armhole is set lower down. It is a tight fitting bodice so you will need a tight fitting Working Template to draft this Neckline you could even start with your Base Template if you have a good fit. You would usually use boning for extra support although remember that boning would not support the breasts you would have to do that with your underwear or even create a corset attached or separate to be worn underneath. Incidentally it is essential that any underwear to be worn with the bodice is worn to all fittings, changing underwear will change the fit of the bodice and can be a disaster if this is changed after fitting.

Ensure all of your Darts are drawn to the Bust Point and close out your Shoulder and Side Dart into the Waist Dart. Then close out the Armhole Dart but close it ¼” extra to help avoid any gaping in the Armhole.

Then draw in the position and shape of your Neckline determining the position of the Armhole at the same time, the shape is up to you. Having the radius drawn in will give you an idea of how much flesh you would be showing off. I have actually gone quite low on the Armhole here you may not want to go down quite as low as it means that Back will be low also.

You will need to draw a 3/4” Bust Dart on top of the closed out Shoulder Dart, this is going to help keep the Neckline close to the bust and stop it from gaping, the measurement of this Dart may need to change slightly depending on the size of the bust and the comfort of the wearer, remember the bigger the bust usually the bigger the dart you will need.

Cut the pieces apart, cut away the Waist Dart and cut the Neckline. Smooth out the lines and check that the length of the Princess Lines on both sides are the same so that they sew up beautifully that’s it simple!

It is a similar process on the Back.

The Back Side needs to start at the same place as the Front Side so lay the Front on just to check the measurement. Decide how low the Back goes and then draw in the Back Neckline.

Keep the Back contouring, extend the Dart to the Neckline for the Princess line if it does not meet and cut away the Dart (whatever shape it happens to be).

Here are all the pieces for the Strapless Bodice. Don’t forget to label each piece and mark the Side and Centre Front/Back, as these pieces are so small (and cute!) that they can easily be mixed up or flipped.


With a Bateau or Portrait or off shoulder Neckline, you need to determine how wide the sleeve or sleeve strap is going to be as there are two ways I think that you can draft this option.

With a Strap you can draft the strap pattern off the bodice as a separate pattern piece but if you have a longer sleeve you might wish to actually draft a sleeve and then cut off the top of it to match in with the position of the Neckline and the shape of the top of the desired sleeve so you will need to refer to Module 6 - Create the Flexible Pattern – 6. Drafting Sleeves to see how to do this.

Here we will look at Off Shoulder Necklines that require a strap.

The strap on an off the shoulder bodice is not really functional in that it is not going to hold the dress in place, so the bodice will need to be tight enough not to fall down and potentially have boning for support or another strap over the shoulder. Although you could add in a little covered elastic on the inside of the strap or even a separate elasticated strap underneath.

Start by manipulating the Darts appropriately or according to your design. Remember that having a Princess Seam is a great option as it will give you a better fit through the Bodice.

Here the Darts have been manipulated as per the Strapless Bodice above with a little extra taken off the Armhole Dart and around ½” equivalent extra to what was taken off the Shoulder Dart but this is your choice depending on how tight you want the bodice to be. The Neckline has been set higher to allow the strap to go around the top of the arm so that it does not hold the arm down and restrict movement.

The Darts are all closed except the Waist Dart and the outlines smoothed out.

Here are the two Front Pieces Cut and labelled so that there is a Princess Seam to sew.

The Back Side is measured to the same length as the Front from the Waist up.

The height of the armhole is also defined, you can either come up the same distance on the Armhole as the Front or come down the Armhole the same as the Front or find a different level to suit your design. Define the position, redraw the Armhole and draw in the Back Neckline.

Here are all of the pieces cut and labelled.

Here is a way to work out the shape and length of the strap, it will get you into the ball park so when creating a Test Garment allow a good 1” at least of Seam Allowance so that you have something to play with. The depth and length of this strap is a very personal thing and can’t really be determined until it is on the client.

Place the Front Side pattern piece onto a fresh sheet of paper and square up a line from the side Dart up and off the pattern (we don’t really have may straight lines to work from but this one is sufficient). Trace out the pattern piece while you have it in place, you only need to trace the Armhole really and the top line that looks like a mini shoulder. It will look something like this once you have drawn it in more clearly.

Draw back in the squared off guideline and draw one perpendicular to this and squared off at the most inside point of the mini shoulder (I will call it that for want of a better description, in fact this is the top position of the strap really).

You will now need another measurement that we did not collect when measuring the client as an off the shoulder strap is not something that you would commonly make so if you do need to collect this measurement you can collect it when you do a first fitting on a muslin because you will need to have a conversation about what the client feels comfortable with for an off the shoulder strap anyway.

The measurement you will need is from the Front Armhole where you have drafted up across the arm and to the drafted position on the Back Armhole. Then divide this by 2 to get a measurement for half of it.

Draw a line extending the line of the top of the strap down until you meet this measurement. Then draw a Guideline straight up at this point perpendicular to the previous Guideline. This allows you to create a shaped strap, you also could just draw it straight across or curved, the design is up to you.

Now you need to mirror this to the other side so fold down the central line and trace out the strapline.

Open it back out and draw the Strap Line in and place the Back Side pattern piece in position to draw in the outline for the Back.

Next decide how wide and what shape you want the strap and draw this in.

Then cut out the strap.

You can treat the strap as a separate pattern piece and cut out 2 one for each side and you would perhaps line it or even double it up and then add Seam Allowance but I think you can get a better fit if you cut it at the centre and adjoin it to the corresponding pattern pieces for the Front/Back Sides. Although this makes for an interesting sew so think Couture and aim to be sewing lining in by hand.


This Neckline has a Strapless on one side and a Shoulder on the other so really it is an Asymmetrical Neckline which means that you will not be able to draft just half of a pattern you will need to trace of both sides of the Front and both sides of the Back by tracing one side then flipping it over and tracing the other side. Usually the Shoulder is on the left side and you would usually add any fastenings or zip to the Left Side so that you do not disrupt the Neckline at the Centre Back.

So trace out the Front for both sides and label the pattern Left and Right so that you are clear which way you are creating the neckline, you are marking the Right Side of the fabric if you image that (as opposed to the Wrong side) and manipulate out the Shoulder and Armhole Darts into the Side Dart.

Draw in the Neckline on the Left then transitioning to the Right and check that you are happy with the depth of the neckline on the body. You may need to redraw the Armhole for the Left side if you have altered the End Shoulder Position.

Determine the width of the Front Neckline from the Centre Back out to the Left so that you will be able to draft the Back Neckline width which = Front Neckline width + 3/8” as the Front High Shoulder Point is around half way along the Shoulder Line.

As with the Strapless Neckline add in a ¾” Dart on top of the Shoulder Dart to draw the Neckline closer to the body on this side and also increase the Armhole Dart by ¼” to help stop the Armhole from gaping cut and close the Darts and smooth out the outlines

Now you are left with Side Darts and Waist Darts. Notice how the Side Dart leads into the Bust Line, this creates a very obvious Style Line that you could use for this Garment, just as with the Base Template Centre Front Bust Dart you could create a seam at this point. By cutting the Bust Point line you will gain another seam into which you can take extra shaping if you felt you needed to on this Neckline during fitting.

Decide which seams you are using, Bust Line, Princess Lines, Centre Front lines and cut out all of the pieces.

Obviously the more pieces you cut the more pieces you will have to sew but the better fit you will get.

I cut off the top piece and cut the bottom into Princess Line and removed the Waist Darts. If you do cut into smaller pieces ensure that you label them.

You will work in the same way on the Back.

Copy out both sides of the draft and label Left and Right. Obviously we are not using the Shoulder Darts.

Work out the position of the High Shoulder Point for the left side and mark out the Shoulder Length as you did on the Front, you can use the Front and line up the Shoulder Lines as you go to check the position and then redraw the Armhole if you need to as per the Front.

If you used the Bust Seam on the Front you can add in the same seam on the Back or not it is up to you. If you would like to then ensure that you bring in the Front Draft to get the same position for the seam it will look better if you line it up on the side.

You will need to draw the Neckline as you did on the Front ending on the Right at the same level on the Side and check that you like the shape and Neckline level.

Then it is just a matter of cutting up the pattern. Here I have cut it out and separated into two pieces. You would then decide if you are going to use the Back Shaping and have a Centre Seam, whether you are going to sew the Waist Darts or close them. If you are going to use a Princess Seam and how far up you are going to take it.

Here are a couple of variations;

Here is the pattern with Back Shaping removed for a closer fit in back and full Princess seams to the Neckline with the Waist Darts closed.

Here I have joined all of the pieces together to make the pattern into piece although as you can see you will lose a little control when fitting as you will only be able to bring in at the sides to make it tighter.

At the end of the day as with all of the Necklines it is really all your choice you are the one in control of your own pattern and it is really down to practice and experimentation where you will get the best results.

© 2017 Threadelicious. All Rights Reserved.


< Previous Unit | ThreadBox Home | Next Unit >


0 views0 comments