1940's Dress Part Two - Upper Bodice Changes


Hello again intrepid pattern hackers! Hopefully you've gotten your insets all worked out, or at least gave the directions a once over.  In part two we'll be covering the two design changes made to the upper bodice. First we will convert the bodice to a faux wrap style. Secondly a cluster of tuck darts will be added to the shoulder.  To complete these steps you will need the following pattern pieces:

* Upper Bust Panel
* Neck Facing
* Center Back
* Side Back

Converting Bodice to a Faux wrap
Time to change the CF seam into a wrap.
1. Trace the bust panel pattern piece and cut around the pattern leaving some extra paper on the CF side.

2. Lay your ruler on the lower edge of the neckline curve.  Extend that line out.

3. Remember how we cut off the point of the waist inset in the previous post? Now we have to add that bodice length back in.  On my inset I cut off 1" so that will be the amount I add to the bottom of the bust panel.

4. Measure down from the original CF line the amount you need to add. In my case 1". Make that placement.

5. Use a hip curve or a regular ruler to redraw the bottom edge of the pattern.

6. Next we are going to fill in the neckline a bit so there is enough room on the shoulder for all the tucks. Increase the front edge by tracing a parallel line 5/8" away. After that is finished cut out the bust panel pattern.

7. Before you forget, grab the center back piece and fill in the neckline 5/8" there too.

8. Now we will fix the facing to match the bodice changes. Place the facing on top of the bodice, notches matching. Trace the lower part of the facing along the new bodice lines. Remove the facing for now.

9. Draw in the shoulder seam allowance on both the front and back pieces. You might also want to pin together the center and side back. Line the shoulders up on the seam lines like you were going to sew them.

10. Place the facing back on the patterns, lining the facing up with the neckline notch. Slowly pivot the facing around the neckline curve so that it lines up with the back neck.  Reduce the length of the facing here and reposition the double notches so that they match.

11. The facing modifications are complete and the pattern piece can be cut out.

Adding Shoulder Tucks
We'll be doing some slashing to the pattern to make shoulder tucks.
1. If you haven't done so already, draw in the seam allowance on the shoulder of the bust panel.

2. From the shoulder edge, measure 1.5" and mark.

3. Make three more marks .5" away from each other.

4. Place the clear ruler on one of the marks, perpendicular to the shoulder seam line. Draw a line all the way through the pattern.  Repeat the process until you have 4 lines drawn through the pattern.

5. Cut each line from the shoulder almost all the way through to the bust seam.

6. Place a large piece of paper behind the bust panel. Spread the cut areas open until they are an 1" away from each other. Then tape down the pattern all along the cut edges.

7. Draw in lines 1" from the seam allowance down each cut area. When you make the dress you will sew the tuck down to that mark. Also draw in an arrow pointing towards the neckline so you remember which was to fold the pleat.

8. Trim off any extra paper attached to the pattern and the finished piece should look something like this.

Shewwwww, after all that hacking I think we need to call it a day. I'm sure your pointer finger is tired of scrolling. In our last hacking season, part three, I will show you all the sleeve changes needed to finish up your dress.  Till then happy hacking!


  1. Ooo, this is great! I was wondering how you had made the shoulder tucks, and this looks so easy. Lynne

  2. Thanks for sharing Heather, this looks great!

  3. It is easy, which is the great part. :)

  4. I love pattern making. Your finished dress is gorgeous.

  5. Thanks Gail. Good to give yourself a change once in a while. :)


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