Drafting Bunka Bodice Block (Original)

Bunka style blocks are one of the simplest, and yet at the same time, more complex blocks we have come across. Bunka Fashion College is from Japan, and they use the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) sizes to develop their basic blocks. Based on the JIS statistics, Bunka Fashion College is able to produce fairly accurate blocks representing a good range of body sizes just using three body measurements, namely the bust circumference, waist circumference and centre back length.


However, for those who have encountered Bunka style blocks, the drafting is rather involved. For instance, there are two waist darts for each back and front bodice blocks; all of which are determined by a percentage predetermined in the Bunka Fashion Series textbook.


Because the blocks are highly dependent on only a few body measurements, Bunka style blocks work very well for those who fit within the JIS sizes, and less so for those that deviate from it. Having said that, it does not mean that Bunka style blocks cannot be used by some body sizes; it just means that toile fitting becomes all the more important in getting the blocks to fit you right.


As with all pattern making, fit evaluation is the key to getting any block or pattern to fit you just right. Use calico to make up a toile and eliminate as much fit issues as possible before cutting into your fashion fabric. This will save you time and money in the long run.

Coco Chanel working in her Paris atelier in 1962, photographed by Douglas Kirkland

Basic Bodice Block (Original)

We will use Bunka Size 9 for our demonstration on how to draw the basic bodice block. The reference measurements are:

Bust Circumference 83cm

Waist Circumference 64cm

Centre Back Length 38cm


For step-by-step video demonstration, click here.


Bunka Style Bodice Block (Original)

Our Thoughts

At first glance, there are so many darts in this bodice that it feels really complicated. But it does gives a lot of flexibility in the planning and use of darts. For instance, the centre back dart f is lovely for garments with a seam there; it allows the seam to follow closer to the curve of the spine. However, if there is no centre back seam in your design, you could either not sew this dart at all or redistribute this dart value to the other areas.


Dart d is typically not used as-is; this dart is usually closed off on paper before the bodice block is used to develop further designs. The same goes for dart b.


The Bunka method is very precise and we love the way they measure in degrees, for instance, for the front and back shoulder slope, as well as dart size. In fact, it's the only school we know that requires a protractor and compass to draft its blocks. For those who do not own a protractor, not to fret, the Bunka method has also provided an alternative method to determine these dimensions and that's what we have used in our demonstration.


Sleeve Block

For the sleeve block, we will need the armhole measurement from the bodice block. Since it's a curved line, remember to use the measuring tape on its edge for better accuracy.


For step-by-step demonstration, click here.



Sleeve Block based on Original Bodice Block

Our Thoughts

The sleeve block is a very basic one, as there is not shaping along the length of the arm. The block can be used as-is; it is also a good starting point for further style development. In the Bunka Fashion Series textbook, it is noted that a deficiency in back sleeve may occur in larger bust sizes. In this case, the Bunka method has catered for this by increasing the back sleeve width by a predetermined amount. This amount increases with bust measurement and is given in a table within the textbook.


Up Next

Look out for our subsequent post on a simpler method of drafting bodice and sleeve blocks inspired by the Bunka Fashion Series.

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