Create Chunky Neckline Pleats

1 Chunky pleatsSo, The Vivienne Westwood Challenge!  I’ve had to postpone the deadline to a more manageable Saturday, 7th June (email  your submissions any time; I stay up late!).  If you’re trying to plump up the courage to make something, you may like this easy drafting project.  The approach is more butchery than couture but it seems to work.  You’ll end up with an asymmetric, sleeveless top (though you can add sleeves, as I will do).  It’s particularly cute if you turn your fabric on the bias.

You will need:

  • A bodice block, copied, darts moved to waist (as in this tutorial)
  • 1.5 – 2 metres, depending on your size (and whether or not you’d like sleeves) of lightweight check or plaid fabric.  Mine is a linen/cotton blend at £6 per metre from Rolls and Rems
  • Plenty of paper.  I often draft on packing paper that arrives stuffed into boxes of online shopping which I press with a hot, dry iron.


3 trace bodice

1. Move bodice front darts to waist and trace

4 Draw neckline

2. Lower neckline by e.g. 10cm. Narrow shoulder seam to e.g. 6cm

6 Cut on double

3. Draw a more shapely side seam to desired length. Pin onto another paper layer and cut

Bodice Front ready to start

4. Join left and right (I know this looks wonky, but it’s the tilt of the camera, I think!)

1 Bodice front slash and spread

5. Draw a grainline (Centre Front). Draw where you want the pleats to appear. Extend to the seam and slash. Note how my pleats extend to the two side seams and the hem. Label pieces.

1 Straight grain to sg

6. Draw grainline on target paper. Pin grainlines together

1 Spread on target paper

7. Pin the remaining pieces in order, making sure that they’re anchored together at seams. I have deliberately made the three gaps in the neckline different measurements. e.g. 8c.m, 10cm and 9cm

1 define

8. Trace all around then remove top layer

1 Fold pleats and pin

9. Pin pleats closed (try to be accurate and press with a dry iron if necessary!)

1 add seam allowances and cut

10. Draw a seam allowance/hem allowance and cut out. Before unpinning pattern, use it to make a pattern for the facing (5cm depth plus seam allowances)

Back Bodice 

You will need to make a pattern for the back too but this is relatively simple.  You will need to:
1. Trace the Bodice Back Block/Sloper
2. Draw an elegant neckline: Firstly, lower the back of the neck by 5cm approx.  Make the shoulder seam the same width as the front of the bodice, e.g. 6cm and join to the centre with a smooth curve.
3. Place the front pattern over the back and trace the side seam and hem so they’re the same at front and back.
4.  If you have a shoulder dart in your back block, it’ll be quite reduced by the time you’ve lowered the neckline.  You can sew gathering stitches here and ease this area instead of sewing a dart in the neckline.
5. Draw seam allowances and make a pattern for the back facing.

Cutting: Remember to place the grainline on bias for a looser, more draped effect.

Ask if you have any questions about sewing the top and good luck.

1t Check linen cotton mix

6 thoughts on “Create Chunky Neckline Pleats

  1. A great idea with an absolutely stunning effect. I love the fabric. And I can definitely see the VW influence!

    I have been mentally playing about with the plaid and coordinating fabric I have and have decided that the plaid willl have to be limited to collars/cuffs/facings/trims. It doesn’t get me any closer to an actual design, though. Due to my weight (I am medically morbidly obese – I should have badgered my husband into that sheer VW dress before I gained all this weight) it really is nearly impossible to get a non-frumpy pattern, let alone any patterny at all. The only pattern company that seems to cater to that size without being totally frumpy is Dana Marie, but I’m haven’t gottten a spark yet.

  2. I was just about to start cutting out a woven tank top from my bodice sloper and had to stop to make dinner. And here this is. Fate? I had polka dots in mind, but I’ve got this insane and highly irregular plaid…..

    Fate! Challenge accepted!

  3. I’m starting to find the art of pattern making and drafting so fascinating. I’ve just dipped a toe in the water with a pattern hack – and I really mean just a toe – but I’ve never done anything as clever as this. It looks like you’re going to get a really good effect with that top. What sort of sleeves are you going to put in?

  4. I think this is a lovely tutorial and something I will definately try. Thank you for posting. I have most of my jacket pattern drafted, but don’t have great fabric at the moment. And the clock is ticking (not like the one on the VW website, which goes backwards)!

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