Back to basics: creating a sloper

Following the successful creation of jeans, I’ve decided to go back to the basics and work on a sloper (a basic pattern, from which others patterns can be created). Back at Easter, when I had about a week off work, I attempted to create a sloper by learning to drape. Draping is interesting and I will go back to it. But I realised that I really couldn’t create a working basic pattern for my shape, based on the standard shape of Pinelope. So I bought Vogue’s dress and trousers sloper patterns.

The sloper will be used for three things:

  1. Using the sloper to check any other patterns for adjustments needed and get a better fit first time round
  2. Creating a shell based on my measurements, which can be placed over Pinelope (and padded out as necessary). The idea is to make Pinelope exactly my shape.
  3. Creating a block, from which I can design my own patterns

As I’ve said before, I’m an impatient seamstress, but it’s important to get this right. So I’m trying to take my time on this. To keep myself creatively engaged in the meantime, I’ll be learning some interesting pattern cutting techniques from Pattern Magic books – but that’s a post for another day.

That’s not to say it’s not an interesting process.

The first step is to take your measurements. And this was interesting because I tried to do it myself. Despite my weekly yoga sessions, I found it very difficult to accurately measure my back. I had to remeasure everything again today, with the help of Ken, to check that I got it right.

The next step is to compare your measurements to the standard pattern size measurements to find the difference. I usually buy a size 16 in Vogue patterns, but in doing the comparison it seems I am more closely matched to a size 18. At this point, it just means I’ll have to make more adjustments as I make the sloper, but I might buy a different size in the future. The measurement comparison also highlighted why I sometimes seem to have freakishly long arms in photos – my forearm length is much longer than the standard.

The sloper pattern then has detailed instructions for how to take the differences and make appropriate adjustments to the paper pattern. This is my next step, and probably all I’ll be able to get finished this weekend.

The final steps seem to be making a first muslin, then checking that muslin for common fitting issues like rounded shoulders or swayback. Once the muslin has been checked and adjustments noted, a second version (and hopefully the last) is created. Assuming that fits, you can use the adjusted pattern to create a block (a cardboard template of the main pieces). Could this be the holy grail of fitting?

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2 thoughts on “Back to basics: creating a sloper

    • You’re right – and with the number of adjustments I’m having to make, I’m starting to wonder if I did the measurements correct at all! I always tend to err on the side of tight enough so no part of me is squished, but not to loose I could slip a finger between me and the tape. The other challenge when doing it yourself, of course, getting the bust and waistlines to fall straight across the back. Seems there should be some technology that does all this for you…

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