The Basic Dartless (sometimes) Shirt Block : Draping and Creating a Sloper

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If you want to design pullover woven tops and other simple top designs then you you will need to create a dartless shirt block. However, although this block is referred to as a dartless block, that can be a misnomer because if you have your form padded out in the bust to a C or higher, you will need to add a small side dart to avoid gaping in the armhole.

Are you a C cup or over and sew for yourself and get gaping in the armhole or a fabric fold that radiates from there? If you do, you need to make a muslin every time from most commercial patterns, pin a dart at the armhole and then transfer that dart to your paper pattern’s side seam by pivoting the dart from the armhole to the side seam because darts coming out of the armhole aren’t very nice looking. If you have your own block or sloper you won’t have to make a muslin. You can just place it over a commercial pattern and make adjustments to it before you make your first cut. I will show how to do this nifty fitting trick at the end of my post

While the basic bodice drape ( my draping tutorial for front and back ), is the first drape people learn in design school it is mostly only useful for making fitted bodice dresses. Many of today’s styles are a lot simpler in design than the yesteryear whether we like that or not. Lots of dresses are created using the dartless shirt block. Pullover dresses with elastic waistbands, dolman sleeves, and even tank dresses can be made with this block. But not in knit. You will need to make a knit block to design knit clothes. The knit block is more fitted, doesn’t have ease, and has higher armholes. You will need a shirt block for looser pullover or button down tops or a torso block ( tutorial coming soon)  for more fitted tops,which is created from the basic block. Today it’s on to the dartless shirt block, a very simple pattern block to drape and make.

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Cut a piece of fabric 5 inches longer and wider than your half form’s measurements. Measure from center front to the side seam and add 1/2 inch to incorporate your ease into the front piece. Draw a straight line down the fabric at the side seam measurement. Draw your cross grain line at the ape level. Measure down 11 inches and from the  bust and draw your hipline too. Mark the apex or bust point. You will need to know where that is because you will need it in the future when you make designs from your shirt block.

Pin the front piece down the center front at the ape and at the side seam under arm intersection.

shirtblock2

Go up on the form and pin the shoulder arm cross-mark and neck shoulder cross- mark. Trim the neck to the seam line.

There will be a little excess fabric at your armhole. There is supposed to be there because the top has larger armholes and is unfitted. Distribute it evenly from the center of the armhole.

Trace the shoulder line, the neckline and armhole.

You can remove your muslin.

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Add 1/2 inch to the side seam measurement as well  on the back piece for ease. Draw your cross-grain at the shoulder level. Measure down to where hipline is and draw that line, too.

dartless shirt

Once the fit is good, transfer the muslin to a piece of manila paper. You will need to lower your armhole by one inch and redraw the armhole. Sorry I didn’t photograph that step, but hey, this a is free tutorial. I punched a hole in mine with a pattern hole puncher so I can hang it up. I don’t add seam allowance because it’s better not to have it when you are designing from a sloper. You add it to your new design when it’s done.

Proceed to drape the back using the same method as the front.

shirtblockdcup

I draped two muslins, one for my smaller dress form so I can make a commercial pattern from it if I want to, and one to my dress form that has been padded out to my measurements. To see a post about padding your dress form you can visit this post. Since I am over a C cup I had that gaping in the armhole I discussed earlier.

shirtblockDcup2

See It?

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This is the dart I pinned into the muslin to eliminate that gaping. But I don’t want a dart coming out of my armhole! Very unprofessional….

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So I slashed the the APEX from the middle of my dart…. then slashed from below on the side seam to where I want the new dart to be. I closed the old dart and taped it shut, and VOILA, a new side seam dart! I love dart manipulation. Now when you transfer your muslin to paper, you will need to lower your armhole by one inch to create a more comfortable and less binding armhole. We already added our ease into the muslin’s width so we don’t need to add anymore.

dartshirtmanila

Here is what my new pattern looks like with the side seam dart. I had to blend my armhole and there are no seam allowances in this sloper. The armhole IS smaller now, because I removed that excess with the dart, but it needs to be to get rid of the gaping. It ois much easier for design purposes to cut out your dart. You can’t trace through manila.

 

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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. Christina says

    So seriously my tops/ dresses have always been a mess from commercial patterns. I had researched the issues but your tutorials is the first thing to make it ‘click’ . I just finished altering the heck out of a basic blouse pattern to fit my 36F girls and so far everything looks great. I have a stack of fabrics ready to go if this works. Cross your fingers for me! I can’t thank you enough for saving me from a life of ill fitting tops.

Trackbacks

  1. […] So far in her pattern drafting series, Justine from Sew Country Chick has shown how to drape a front and back fitted bodice.  For making a looser fitting shirt with no dart, you’ll need to make a dartless shirt block.  Actually, if your bust size is a C or higher,  you will need to include a small dart in order for it to fit smoothly at the armhole.  She shares a tutorial showing how to make the dartless (or small darted) bodice.  She also shows how to move a dart so it comes out from the side rather than from the armhole.  Go to Sew Country Chick for the tutorial. […]

  2. […] So far in her pattern drafting series, Justine from Sew Country Chick has shown how to drape a front and back fitted bodice.  For making a looser fitting shirt with no dart, you’ll need to make a dartless shirt block.  Actually, if your bust size is a C or higher,  you will need to include a small dart in order for it to fit smoothly at the armhole.  She shares a tutorial showing how to make the dartless (or small darted) bodice.  She also shows how to move a dart so it comes out from the side rather than from the armhole.  Go to Sew Country Chick for the tutorial. […]