- Tip: measure the current distance horizontally from the centre front to the point where your new neckline joins your shoulder, squaring directly across the paper. This measurement will help you place accurately flared pleats in the later steps.
Step 1: Fold Out Your Darts
Untape your shoulder dart from step 1. Spin in on the hinge to close up your side dart. If you didn’t have a side dart, close up your waist dart.
Slash your waist dart to it’s top point. Notice how it doesn’t usually reach your bust dart (some slopers will have dart points that reach this high). If your dart point doesn’t reach the bust point, simply cut straight up from the dart point to the bust point, leaving a hinge. Pivot on this hinge to close up your waist dart.
I find it helpful at this stage to number your pleats, just in case they come loose.
Some pattern designers – such as Dennic Chunman Lo in the book Pattern Making (Portfolio Skills) – recommend leaving about 1/2″ of your waist dart unclosed for ease. Since we recommended using a sloper with minimum ease built in, you shouldn’t need to include this extra ease. If in doubt, either leave 1/2″ unclosed or measure to check that there is enough ease necessary – about 1.5″.
By now you should have closed all your darts, except for the shoulder dart. But wait?! The Quick Need pattern has a armhole dart. We have included the armhole dart in our patterns to provide extra ease and comfort for larger cup sizes. We don’t recommend folding this out if you are drafting a blouse with sleeves. If you plan to have a sleeveless blouse, go ahead and close it up to stop any gaping by using the same slash and pivot method.
Step 2: Flare Out Your Pleats
If you didn’t number your pleat sections in the last step, I suggest doing so now; they can easily fall off their pivot points!
Cut along the vertical guidelines that we drew for each of the pleats on the blouse. Try to keep a small hinge at the bust point. If you accidentally cut the piece off, just sticky tape it’s pivot point in place.
At the beginning of this post I suggested taking the horizontal measurement from the neckline. Divide this measurement by the number of pleats that you have. This is how far each of your pleats should be spaced from each other. If you didn’t take this measurement – or forgot what it was – then simply measure from your neckline to where the first pleat intersects.
Whatever this measurement was, divide it by the number of pleats that you have. For example, my measurement was just over 2″ or 5cm. I have three pleats, so 5cm divided by 3 = 1.67cm. That’s 0.67″, roughly.
Starting with the pleat closest to your shoulder, measure directly across this value and mark. Swing your first pleat (in this case mine is actually marked as 3) to this point and temporarily tape in place.
Now is the bit where people get confused with the maths. You have to continue squaring across from the original line to get the correct flare. If you try to measure from the neckline of the next pleat, you will run out of space as the spread is reducing proportionally the closer you get to the bust apex. Continue measuring out the flare distance, marking and temporarily taping in place.
Step 3: Weigh Your Pleats (Optional, But Recommended)
Not all pleats are created equal. For the blouse to fit you comfortably, and look good, you generally will want the outside pleat (closest to arm) to be the smallest in size and the middle pleat to be the largest. This will help provide more shaping across the bust and less bunching of excess fabric underneath the arm.
I pivoted the pleat closest to the armhole – pleat marked 3 – towards the side seam by 1/4″ or 0.6cm, making the total flare 1.2cm or 1/2″
I next pivoted the second pleat – pleat marked 2 – towards the centre front by 1/8″ or 0.3cm, making the total flare 1.5cm or 0.6″.
Tape all your pleats down securely.