I recently received a request to make a bamboo-bodice -tutorial. That fits perfectly in my latest theme: TR-cutting. As I’ve said before, you can find a bamboo-bodice also in the Pattern Magic -series, but I prefer Shingo Sato’s version.

Bamboo-bodice is an origami-technique that you can develop further into all kinds of different designs. In my previous post I added many pictures of origami-designs I’ve made if you want some inspiration.


As usual, it takes some time to prepare the pattern. More folds you want, more time it’ll take.

I was actually going to add a few videos to this tutorial, too, but in the end the files were too large for my blog! So you get a ton of pictures instead. Anyways, this is the resulting bodice.

bamboo bodice

Bamboo-bodice pattern

The starting point is a basic bodice like this. You’ll need the whole front-piece. It’ll be easier to make a symmetrical design if you draw the central-line. Cut the pattern-piece following the edges.


Draw lines where you want the folds to go. Two of them will stop at the dart-points, the others must reach the edge of the bodice.

bamboo bodice lines

Now you’ll need to add volume to each line so that you can fold them. Think of the folds as if they’re darts. They even have the same shape.

In this case, you start at the bottom. Cut the first bit, reaching the dart-point and close the dart.

first cut

This is kind of like moving the dart. Add some paper underneath the hole you created and close the new dart, folding it upwards to cut off extra paper from the waist-line. Lengthen the following line so that it reaches the middle of the dart. You should have something like this now:

first fold

Here’s how you make the second cut to reach the remaining dart-point.

second cut

Close the dart and fill the hole, leaving some extra paper.

close dart number2

To get the right shape, close the new dart and look at this picture (too difficult to explain by words!)

The result.

second fold

The next cut goes like this.

3rd cut

Now you get to decide the size of the fold. I added 8cm here.

adding volume

Continue like this to finish adding all the folds. Just remember to always do the folds upwards. In the end your pattern will look like this. If you made smaller folds, it won’t be so wide.

final bamboo bodice pattern

Sewing the bamboo-bodice

Don’t add any seam-allowance in the middle, where the origami-folds are. Cut the fabric carefully, following the exact shape of the edge because that’ll be an important reference-point. Clip also the ending-points of the folds at the outer-edge. Here’s my bamboo-bodice right after cutting it. I marked the points I clipped. What a mess, right?


Don’t worry. With the help of your pattern, you’ll be able to put it together! So keep it at hand and use it when needed to see where you’re going. You just have to close all the folds again, in reverse order.

So, start by finding the reference-points of the last fold and close it.

first fold

Flip the following fold over it, matching the edges, and stitch. This will fix the first fold in place.

stitching dart

Close the second fold following the reference-points and stitch it in place the same way you did the one before.

second fold



Continue like this to finish all the folds. You’ll see the bodice starting to take the right shape as you go on. This is how it looks like when you’re done:


Other ideas

Just to give you some ideas to try next.

You might like to use two different colors or -textures.

two color bamboo bodice

This means you must split the pattern in two:

split pattern

The bamboo-bodice can also be done in the other direction. The folds go downwards.

reverse bamboo bodice


finished pattern

It doesn’t have to be a bodice. Here’s a sleeve.

bamboo sleeve

bamboo sleeve draft

bamboo sleeve pattern

flat sleeve

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. I’m always open for suggestions, so if there’s some topic you’d want me to write about, just send me a message!

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  1. Are we actually supposed to fill the spaces with extra fabrics? I am confused and I think a video will do me more good.

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      You fill the spaces with paper when preparing the pattern and then cut the fabric in the final shape with the help of the pattern. You can try searching “bamboo bodice” from youtube. I’m sure there are some videos that might help. 🙂

  2. Shagufta naaz Reply

    Very nice and helpful for me ,i always want to learn creative patternmaking like this .thank you .

  3. Hi, thanks so much for the tutorial. First, could you recommend a simple bodice pattern to start with? And second, do you have a sense of how much fabric one will need to sew the bamboo bodice (say, for a 36” bust)?

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      You’re welcome. 🙂 There are various ways to draft the basic bodice pattern. In fact each book has their own method. Many people seem to recommend the Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s wear by Winifred Aldrich and Patternmaking for fashion design by Helen Joseph Armstrong (uses inches). The bamboo bodice pattern is quite wide, so you’ll probably need about twice the height of the bodice-measurement: the front- and back pieces won’t fit one next to the other on the fabric. But once you have the pattern, you can easily calculate how much fabric you’ll need. I usually always draft the pattern before buying fabric. 🙂

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial. 🙂

  4. Thanks for your explanation. Please when preparing my bodice to create my pattern how much dart do I need to take out

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      You’re welcome. 🙂 you mean the darts of the basic bodice? It depends on how fitted you want the piece to be. if you follow the instructions on how to draft the basic bodice (in whichever patternmaking book you’re using), it says how many cm to take out with the darts, but you can adjust it yourself, too. in case you mean the “bamboo darts” you insert after, you could try 6-8cm. I hope I managed to explain everything.

    • Hi. Your explanation is a 100%! Thank you so much! I actually just finished making my first bamboo bodice pattern following your instructions thoroughly and I sit here very proud😁. Can’t wait to sew it and see…

      • shapesoffabric Reply

        That’s awesome! Well done! Proud of you, too. 🙂

  5. This is fantastic! Thank you. I’d like to make it hip length. What shall I do with the lower darts? Thanks for your help!

    • shapesoffabric Reply

      Hi! I’m glad you find it helpful. 🙂 Well, the easiest way would be to first draw the basic bodice only up to the waistline and rotate the bust dart to the side so that it isn’t where you’ll draw the bamboo lines. Then continue free-hand, drawing the side seam until you reach the hip line. This way you won’t have lower darts. Just make sure you add enough width to fit the hips. It would also be better to not make the waist too tight, otherwise there’ll be too much difference between the waist and hips and without the lower darts the bodice will pull towards the sides. When I have time, I can try making one with the lower darts included and post it either here or on Instagram.

      • Many thanks for the response and your kind offer! I look forward to the new post with lower darts included:)

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