Sleeveless Bodice Modification – An Orla Affair

Altering a sleeved bodice to make it sleeveless is very easy. It doesn’t take long at all and it is a fun way to make most of your pattern. In this blog post I will show you how you can do it.

Tools needed

  • Paper – you can use freezer paper, medical paper or any other paper you use for tracing patterns
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Ruler
  • French Curve (not necessary, but will certainly makes things easier)

About Sleeveless Bodice

On a sleveless bodice shoulder line is brought in and does not line exactly on the tip of your shoulder. Because Orla dress has sleeves, if you were to just ignore the sleeves and sew the bodice as is, the shoulder would be too wide and will look a little off. So the main objective here is to bring shoulders in a little bit.


You will need to make modifications to both front and back bodice pattern pieces. Draw your seam allowances in on your pattern pieces so that you are working off the actual stitching line. To remind you, the seam allowances on Orla are 3/8″ or 1 cm. I will be working in inches.

I will show you the steps using the front bodice piece. The steps are identical for the back bodice, so make sure to make the changes to it after you are done with the front bodice.

Mark point 1 on the shoulder seam 1 1/2″ away from the shoulder.

Optional: Note that I also extended the shoulder to point by 1/2″. I wanted to slightly change the neckline of the dress by bringing the shoulder in a little bit.

Using a French curve draw a new armscye and a new neckline if you extended the shoulder like I did.

Repeat the same steps to the back bodice. Note that if you extended the shoulder line (point 2) on the front bodice you will have to do the same thing for the back bodice.

EDIT: Meg kindly reminded me that normally one would need to slightly raise the armscye at the underarm as well as pinch out extra fabric on the side seam to properly convert sleeved bodice to sleeveless. I found that with Orla I didn’t need to do it, however it may be just be and my body. You may need at lease to pinch out extra fabric at the side seam. 

Draw your seam allowances back in and that’s it. You are done! See how easy it was.

Now, this is where I went ahead and drafted a facing for my new sleeveless pattern pieces. If you are not using a facing and are intending to finish the armholes with bias binding, just remember to cut a few more bias bindings out when you are cutting out your pattern pieces.


If you want to learn how to draft inseam pockets, go here.

If you want to find out how I drafted striped skirt, go here.


As usual, let me know if you have any questions. I hope it helps!


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  1. I’m onto my second Dove blouse by Megan Nielsen and there is great irony here 🙂 I bought the pattern for 3 reasons – those sleeves, hem, and french dart. I had to alter the dart (and FBA that resulted in a side seam dart) and ended up making it sleeveless because of totally messing up the sleeves. Lo and behold the armscye and shoulders turned out to be perfect for a sleeveless! Does that mean that when I do some day actually make it a sleeved top the armscye may need adjusting?

    1. Oh wow! I am so glad that it worked out in the end! It does sound like you will need to do adjustments to the armscye and possibly the shoulder seam if you want to make it sleeved. You may need to add room into the armscye on the side and lower it a bit 🙂


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