Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Body Block

Ok, just incase anyone stumbles upon this via Google or something, this is a body block of the non-martial art variety!

For those of you that don't know what a (non-martial art) body block is, it is basically a fabric copy of your exact body shape. This can then be used to create pattern pieces for your own clothing designs... It also means that the subsequent designs should fit you like a glove! Well that's the theory anyway!

I have been planning to make one for quite some time now, unfortunately I never seem to get round to it. But last week Danny and I were both off work and for a change didn't have any concrete plans as to how to spend our time... And so out came the muslin, my good friend Shell (get it? My Shell! I am a comedy GENIUS!) and my trusty sewing machine!

By the way, I should probably mention I made this block by following the detailed instructions in The Little Black Dress by Simon Henry. I am still to make my 'Little Black Dress' but can thoroughly recommend this book to beginner sewers and possibly even more experienced ones. It covers all the  techniques needed to stitch your own LBD, information on fabric choices, body shapes, how to manipulate your body body block to make 3 different dresses and a bolero... And also instructions to make a fascinator! I actually own all three of his books, but I think this one is still my favourite!

But anyway, back to the body block! I'm not going to go into all the details as this would be a VEEERY long post, I just wanted to give you an idea of the process. If you want to have a go you could get the book from the library, or I'm sure there are tutorials out in cyberspace somewhere!

Step 1: Get yourself a t-shirt that fits you really well and draw a line down the middle (front and back)

Shell wearing my Inc. t-shirt
I used chalk to mark my line as I didn't want to ruin the t-shirt! Technically you should be wearing the t-shirt and a friend should do the rest for you. Thankfully, I had my Shell (lol) that I could use as a body double!

Step 2: Get 2 pieces of calico (one for the front and one for the back) and pin down the centre line. Then you need to gradually smooth the fabric to your body, pinching out the fullness above and bellow the waist and above the bust.

You do this for the front and the back, being careful not to stretch the t-shirt.

Step3: Next you cut out the arm and neck holes following the seam of the t-shirt. Then pin the front and back together at the shoulders and down the sides, again getting as close to the body as you can without stretching the t-shirt.
Front view

Back view
Step 4: Draw along all the pin lines and then remove the pins. 
Label the four sections; centre back, side back, centre front and side front.

Step 5: Cut along all the pin lines to reveal four pattern like shapes.

Sorry, I guess I forgot to rotate this one!
Step 6: Fold a piece of calico selvedge to selvedge and lay your block pieces on it (the centre front should be next to the fold). Taking one piece at a time; pin it to the fabric, draw around it and then draw a 1.5cm seam allowance. Allow a 3cm seam allowance for the straight edge of the centre back.

Remember to label the pieces!
Step 7: Cut around the seam lines.

Step 8: Stitch the pieces together (leaving the centre back open!), snip into the seams on the curved edges and press the seams open.

Then try it on!
Step 9: Pin along the seam line at the back and check the fit, pinching out any fullness much the same as you did before.
As you can see the back of mine was quite baggy
round the shoulder blade area. 
At this point I have some good news and bad news! The good news is I seem to have lost a few inches around my chest, waist and hips - Yay! The bad news is, because of this Shell is now slightly bigger than me. And so, at this point I needed to try the block on myself, luckily I had Danny around to pin me up!

As you can see I had to pinch out fullness above the bust.
And also some more across my shoulders.
Luckily the block was pretty tight on Shell round the waist and hips, so fitted me perfectly :D

Well, that's as far as I have got. Next I need to make the adjustments to the block and try it on again to make sure it fits perfectly. Then I can use the block pieces to make a pattern for my new dress! :D

I hope this all made sense! x


  1. Wow! I'm really looking forward to see how this turns out :D

    Is this the christmas party dress? x

  2. It's kind kind of a first step towards the Christmas party dress! I still haven't made my mind up how its going to look yet! :O So, yeah - gonna make a few different dresses to see what I like! .... plus more dresses! :D