Shirt, blouse, top, and bodice all refer to a garment that covers the upper torso. They can end at the waist or the hips. They can have collars or plain necklines,  sleeves any length or no sleeves at all. The bodice of a garment is the most important, as it brings focus to the most viewed part of the body, the face.

Bodice Fit

It is completely at your discretion, as the designer, to determine the fit of the bodice. They can be closely fitted with darts at the waist and shoulder to conform to the body. You can also choose to eliminate all the fitting and create a very casual, loose style.

Bodice Closure

You need to determine how your bodice will close. Unless you’re making a t-shirt out of knit that stretches or a pull-over with a sufficient hole for the head, you will need to slit the bodice to get it on the model.

You can slit your bodice up the back and close it with a zipper, lacing or other fastener. The most common closure is the center front of the bodice using buttons. 


Men’s and women’s shirts overlap in different ways. Men’s shirts overlap with the left side over the right. Women’s shirts overlap with the right side over the left.

Button Extensions

To use buttons, you need to extend the pattern where they will be placed. For example, if you wanted to close a bodice front with buttons, you would need to extend the pattern so that the buttons and buttonholes would run directly down the center front line.

Typical extensions are equal to the diameter of the button. That means that the finished distance between the center of the button and the edge of the garment will be 1/2 the diameter of the button (the button radius). 

Extensions can be built in to the bodice by extending the width at center front on the front left and right patterns. The extensions will overlap, allowing you to sew the buttons down the center front.

The built-in extension is merely an overlap technique for the basic bodice. There is another type of extension that is a separate piece. The separate piece is sewn over the bodice front that is on top when overlapped. This is a decorative element found on many shirts. The separate piece can be referred to as a button extension or a placket, depending on the source.

The separate extension can have buttons on it or not. In some cases, the extension facing has the buttonholes and the extension piece itself does not. This allows a shirt to be closed with buttons, but not have them visible.


Yokes are separate pattern pieces that cover the shoulders and extend down the front and the back. To create a yoke, a portion of the front bodice at the shoulder is cut away. Then a portion of the back at the shoulder is cut away. These cut pieces are then combined into one piece.

Yokes help shape the back of the bodice without using darts. They are also a good design element and are often cut on the bias of a textured fabric or rotated 180°. This causes the texture of the fabric to be very different as it goes over the shoulder. This is done because aligning the fabric texture of the yoke to the front and back patterns is nearly impossible.

A basic yoke creates a straight line across the back and front. You can add additional design by adding points and curves to the yoke line. This is often found in western cut shirts.