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Basic Bodice Won’t Fit

Sari_Ab | Posted in Fitting on

Hi, I’ve used both Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s “Paternmaking for Fahion Design” and Aldrich’s “Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear” to draft my basic bodice but I get an extra 4inches/10cm around my both my waist and bust which makes the whole bodice look like it’s twice my actual size.
I’ve drafted the patterns from both books carefully more than a dozen times and every time, I get exactly 4 extra inches.
I don’t know where my problem is? I’m sure I’m doing something wrong, because I’m a size 18 and my measurements perfectly fit the measurements in the charts given in the books (with maybe a half an inch of difference), so I don’t know why it comes out wrong.
The only thing that I can thing of, which would explain this problem, is in Aldrich’s book on page 16 for the close fitting bodice pattern instruction, it says “2-3 : half bust plus 5 cm” which perfectly explains the extra 4″/10cm around my bust point and waist. But I don’t understand why it would say to add 5cm if it’s wrong. Thinking about it, if I don’t add this 5cm, my problem would be solved, but it is the close fitting pattern so why would it be there in the first place?
Can someone explain either this +5cm or my problem to me? Cause I am genuinely lost and don’t know what to do :'(


  1. user-7921998 | | #1

    I also had fit issues with the Helen Joseph Armstrong method - the bust was too small and the waist too big and armholes gaped. I switched to the Dennic Chunman Lo method and it hardly needed any alterations to fit

    1. Sari_Ab | | #2

      Thank you for the answer, I'll try his method ^^

  2. Syaani | | #3

    The basic bodice pattern has different ease variations for different garments. The one most commonly featured in the drafting instructions is the one you mention. It is meant for blouses, and the ease 4"/10cm is for two things. First, it is loose enough that a person can wear a corset-type garment underneath. Second, it is nice to be able to breathe freely.

    The ease-type without ease is for corsets. For jackets you would add about 6"/15cm, and for coats about 8"/20cm; for both you would consider the thickness of lining and interfacing. There's also basic bodice with negative ease, for form fitting garments made of stretchy fabrics. The decrease depends on each individual fabric, naturally.

    1. Sari_Ab | | #4

      Thank you for replying.
      The patterns that I'm using are supposed to be form fitting and used as a basic for every other project in the 400/700 paged book. that's why the ease (specifically that much) doesn't make sense. The ease isn't mentioned as something optional, it's just part of the instruction, so if I wanted something that's form fitting, I have to go through all the instructions and realize whether they're part of the 4" ease or not and then delete them. Which is just too complicated, I tried it and it came out janky. So do you have any ideas on how to make it form fitting? Do I alter the pattern after I've drawn it or do I just find a new set of instructions?

      1. Syaani | | #6

        Are you drafting the pattern manually or digitally? And are you drafting a basic pattern for the first time, or are you looking for a better drafting system?

        If for the first time and manually, I would recommend that you follow the instructions as they are and then make a trial garment to achieve the fit you need. Then you could compare the original pattern to the fitted one, to find how, in addition to the fit type, your particular body type, size and posture affect the pattern. It is the best way to learn how a pattern drafting system works. The system is a kind of a blueprint, and a pattern is rarely perfectly fitting if the system is followed to the letter.

        Does the Armstrong system you are following instruct you to use a table of measurements and ease calculations? There should be a column for ease that you are supposed to change according to your desired fit for the garment, to the size of the person, and to the drape of the fabric. The table is supposed to include all the calculations needed to draft the pattern. So, it's not just a chart of measurements.

        Are you using a spreadsheet computation software to calculate the table mentioned in the paragraph above?

        If you are using a digital pattern drafting software, such as Affinity Designer or Seamly2D (free), most likely it is a parametric one, meaning that the pattern construction you draft can be adjusted just by changing the measurements (and in some softwares ease per measurement and other such things from the aforementioned table). To create the chart form that includes all the necessary details takes effort, but the pattern can then be used for any person of the same gender and age group.

        Generic vector graphic softwares, such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape (free) can be used also for pattern drafting, but it may not be possible to create links between the spreadsheet software and the graphic software.

  3. juno1234 | | #5

    Several sloper classes or videos that I've gone through use 1.5-2" of ease on top of your bust or waist measurement for a close-fitting top -- that's only 3/8-1/2 inch added to the half front and half back pattern. 4" of ease sounds like a generous blouse or tailored jacket territory.

    1. Sari_Ab | | #7

      Exactly! It's perfect for a tshirt. That's why I don't understand it either. In the Armstrong pattern the next pages after the original instructions is for fitting the pattern to asymmetrical bodies, so that tells me that the pattern is supposed to be form fitting. I just don't understand where I'm going wrong :(

  4. Deleted | | #8


  5. ibijoke | | #9

    From my learning experience with the Aldrich method I’d say it’s a base template which is then fitted to the individual body type. I had to make multiple Muslin slopers which I then proceeded to fit and correct . I made a few of them as I kept correcting the wrinkles and more kept pooping up from over fitting or not getting it right. I finally had to redraft the basic bodice using the measurements and instructions provided then made my modifications to the darts in the bodice which I reduced on both the sides and the the bodice body due to my tummy. I also curved the zipper seam after making the swayback adjustments as I have a pronounced derrière. What I’d say is use the instructions as a foundation base and fit to your body until you are satisfied. The Joseph Helen Armstrong method is still a mystery for me to crack. I’ll definitely try drafting again with it but the information on pattern design and style modifications that can be made is incredible. Keep a record of each modification and make annotations about the results that way you will remember what you did and the results gotten. Goodluck and mostly have fun.

  6. user-3862652 | | #10

    Which edition of the Helen Joseph Armstrong book are you using? Also what are the page numbers for the basic bodice? Hoping to have a look at it to try to solve the mystery.

  7. User avater
    fitsewbeautiful | | #11

    Patternmaking textbooks are written for professionals who are making ready-to-wear that fits dress forms. Helen Joseph Armstrong describes the "ideal" figure in her introductory chapter: an erect postured, B-cupped, proportional, symmetrical, hourglass figure. Unfortunately, her instructions assume these relationships in the drafting process. Armstrong is not alone; this critique is true of all the textbooks and drafting programs out there.

    Human beings are NOT the erect postured, B-cupped, proportional, symmetrical, hourglass figures like the one pictured on the left. This means that when folks plug in their own body measurements into the formulas in patternmaking textbooks, they do not obtain slopers that fit their figures. The further their bodies are from the patternmaking "ideal figure", the more dramatic the fitting issues. This problem multiplies exponentially as we age. For example, a normal 80 year old (picture on the right) who drafts a sloper/block using the same formula can't possibly fit into something designed for the figure on the left --- the 80 is a completely different shape! Women with bust larger than a B cup have even mores significant fitting issues with self-drafted slopers/blocks.

    As a fitting instructor, I've been asked to fit a number of self-drafted slopers/blocks. I've come to the conclusion that all human bodies are unique and asymmetrical; that no one is proportional like a dress form and that no amount of measurements will yield a perfect sloper/block that fits all our bumps, twists, and curves. We can only expect our slopers/blocks to be a rough starting point from which to fit. While there are lots of fitting methods out there, I like using (and teaching) Palmer/Pletsch's fitting order because it is systematic and top-down, so one alteration won't negate previous ones. (The picture is courtesy of The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting.)

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