Bodice sloper following instructions from 1962

My Russian grandmother has given me a few sewing books that she used when she was in her 20s to teach herself how to sew.

The book I’m following is called “Dress With Taste” by Voevodina V.D. and Dubinina R.B. In Russian: Воеводина В.Д., Дубинина Р.Б. “Одевайтесь со вкусом”. First you choose your body type, and then follow the formulas to create a bodice sloper to your measurements. I have followed the instructions for a “normal figure with a large bust”. All measurements are in Centimetres. The translation is not word for word.

How to follow these instructions
  1. Read the whole set of instructions from beginning to end.
  2. In a notebook, write out your measurements next to the abbreviations.
  3. Write out all the formulas, and do all the algebra before you start drafting. Double check all your calculations.
  4. You may find it easier to open this same webpage in 2 browser tabs side by side so that you can see the instructions alongside the diagrams.

Paper for drafting, note paper, pencil, fine pen, rubber, tape measure, long ruler, curve ruler, protractor.


First you will need to choose you figure type and take some measurements. In this book the neck (Ne), bust (Bu), waist (Wa) and back width (Bw) measurements are always recorded as half of their values.

You will also need to decide on how much ease you will incorporate. The book suggests 4cm for a loose fitting. This is very dependent on how you took your measurements. If you take your measurements loosely, then you will still need a minimum of 1cm ease for a close fitting bodice. This is because of the centre back slant done in step 3 – “vertical middle of back”.

Fig 90, Taking Measurements
Take around the base of the neck.
(Ne)Ne/2 =
Take around the fullest part of the bust.
(Bu)Bu/2 =
Bend to the side – this is where your waist is. This measurement may change depending on how tight your bodice ends up.
(Wa)Wa/2 =
Back Width
Take along the back from underarm to underarm.
(Bw)Bw/2 =
Shoulder Length
Take from neck point to shoulder point.
Back – Waist Length
Take down the centre back from prominent neck bone to waist line.
Front – Waist Length
Take from side neck point straight down over bust to waist line.
Drafting the Back

In this diagram, the pink lines are guideline measurements, green lines are helpful placeholders, red lines are the finished pattern.

Check that you have enough area on your paper using this formula.
Width = Bu + ease
Length = (Bl + 1) + (Ne/3 +1.5)

Armhole length

Starting at the top left of your paper, draw a vertical line downwards. The length of this line is half the back length divided by 2, plus 2. Label the ends of this line A and C, as shown in the diagram.

AC = Bl/2 + 2

Back length

From point A, draw a vertical line downwards. The length of this line is back length plus 1. Label this point D.

AD = Bl +1

From points C and D, draw horizontal lines equal to bust width plus ease. Label the end points C3 and D2.

CC3 = DD2 = Bu + ease

Vertical middle of back

On the waist line, from point D, plot a point 1cm across to the right, and join this up with point A. This will be the centre back line.

Back width

Along line CC3, plot point C1 to the right of point C, at a distance of the back width plus 1, (or instead of adding 1, just round up).

CC1 = Bw + 1 (or instead of adding 1, just round up)

From point C1, draw a vertical line upwards, ending parallel to point A. Label the top of this line A1, and join left to point A.

Armhole width

From point C1, measure along the same line to the right, a distance of 1 tenth of the bust width multiplied by 2, plus 2, and label this point C2.

C1C2 = Bu/10 * 2 + 2

Neckline width

From point A, measure along the same line to the right, a distance of 1 third of neck plus 1, and label this point a.

Aa = Ne/3 + 1

Neckline depth

From point (a) draw vertical line upwards. The length of this line is 1 third of the neckline width (the previous formula of distance Aa). Label this point a1. Join up points A and a1 with a curve. This is the back neckline.

aa1 = (Ne/3 + 1) /3

Back shoulder

From point A1, plot a point 2cm down the line A1C1, mark this point d.

Join point a1 to d, then extend this line by 1cm to the right.

This length should be equal to the shoulder length (shl) plus 1.The back shoulder length has to be 1cm longer than the front shoulder length to accommodate the shoulder blade point. This extra cm can either be eased into the front shoulder seam, or converted into a dart.

Back armhole

Plot a point half way between C1 and C2, label this point C4. Through C4 draw a vertical line. The top of this line should be parallel to point A1. The bottom of this line should stop at the waistline. Label the bottom point D1, and the top point A2.

On the line C1A1, mark a point 5cm up from C1. From this point, draw another point 1cm horizontally to the right.

From point C1, mark another point at a 45 degree angle 3cm away.

Join up points C4, 3, 1 and 1 using a french curve.

Drafting the Front
Front width

Extend line D2C3 upwards by half the back length plus 2, plus 1 tenth of the bust, plus 1. Label the end of the line as A3. This will be the centre front line.

C3A3 = (Bl/2) + 2 + (Bu/10) + 1


From point A3 draw a horizontal line to the left. The length of this line is 1 third of the neck, plus 1. Label this point A4.

A3A4 = Ne/3 + 1

Measure down along the line A3C3 a distance of 1 third of the neck, plus 1.5. This point marks the centre front neck point.

Ne/3 + 1.5

Draw a horizontal line to the left out of this point, and square up to point A4. From that corner plot another point at a 45 degree angle 3cm away.

Draw a vertical line down from point A4, where this line crosses line CC3, mark a point e.

Front shoulder slant

Join points A2 and A4.

Bust dart

Along the line A4A2, mark a point 4cm to the left from point A4.

Along the line C3C4, mark a point 3cm across to the left from point e.

Join up these new points. This is the right bust dart leg.

From point C2 draw a vertical 5cm line upwards. Join this point to point A2. Along this line from point A2, measure 3cm and mark a point.

Calculate a1d – 4, which should the shoulder length minus 4.

Use this length to join point 3 up to line A4A2. Join that point to the bust dart point. This is the left bust dart leg.

Front armhole

Mark a point half way between the 3cm point and the 5cm point. From there, draw a perpendicular 1cm line to the right.

From point C2, draw a 2.5cm line at a 45 degree angle.

Join up points C4, 2.5, 5, 1 and 3 with a french curve.

Waist darts

Mark a point halfway between point C and C4. Draw a vertical line downwards to meet with the waist line. This is the centre line of the back dart. Measure 5cm down this line from line CC4, this is the dart point.

For the front waist dart, extend the right bust dart leg down to meet the waist line. Measure 5cm down along this line from line C4C3, this is the dart point.

Calculating the waist darts

Front: bust plus ease, takeaway 1cm, minus the waist. All divided by 3.

((Bu + ease – 1) – (Waist)) / 3

Back: bust plus ease, minus the waist. All divided by 4.

((Bu + ease) – (Waist)) / 4

Sides: bust plus ease, minus the waist, minus the front and back darts.

(Bu + ease) – waist – (front dart + back dart)

For each dart, half the values calculated in the above formulas, mark points either sides of the dart centre lines, and join up to the dart points.

To finish the waistline, measure 1cm up each side dart leg, and join these points to the front and back waist dart legs.

Next steps

Now add seam allowances, and make a toile to check the fit. There may still be adjustments that need to be made. Remember to label and write down all the alterations that are made.