I have two new sloper patterns to share, a women’s skirt sloper for woven fabrics and a women’s skirt sloper for knits, both in 12 sizes. (Available through Etsy for instant download and in large format pdf for copy shop printing, too.) Drafted my first digital fashion flats and created a new logo, too! I’m *really* excited, because my efforts to work out all my sizing and grading standards consistently is starting to come together. From a pattern drafting standpoint, it’s important to me to develop a solid, consistent basis to draft from going forward, but also from a personal standpoint, I’m excited to be creating a full library of personalized slopers so that I can get the fit I want, consistently and easily. If I know exactly the baseline I need, I won’t have to sew muslins or toiles. So there will be more of these in the future, and more to come on how to use them, because although sewing is an excellent move for less waste and better consumption habits and putting quality over quantity, sewing muslins of everything is a waste of time and fabric that I hate, and probably lots of other sewers do, too.
So what is a sloper, generally speaking? A sloper is the basic starting point for pattern design, also known as a fitting shell. It’s a baseline with enough wearing ease to allow for movement and breathing, but no design ease and no details, and usually it doesn’t include seam allowances, since they complicate the process of altering the sloper.
Why use a sloper? Patterns almost never fit as is, because all patterns are drafted to fit an average set of measurements. Since there is so much variety in human body proportions, the designer has to choose an average to work from, in the hope that these body dimensions will be a good starting point for their customers. Unless your measurements match this set of baseline measurements, the pattern will need adjustment to better fit your body. Getting a great fit with a sloper allows you to do this process once and be able to replicate it again and again, rather than having to sew a test garment to fit each new pattern you sew.
The sloper is meant to be a two dimensional dress form. When you sew a sloper, the intent is to establish a great fit, and to then use this as a template to modify other garments. Since the sloper has no details and no design ease, it represents the minimum amount of fabric you require for a garment to comfortably cover your body and allow for movement. The sloper is the baseline, where the pattern contains design ease and detail to add style, structure, and movement to garments.
These slopers are drafted for a hip that’s 9” larger than the waist, which is the amount I settled on when I looked at ASTM sizing charts and studies of actual bodies. It’s a good starting place for a lot of people, though I have a more rectangularly proportioned figure, so I’ll have to add about 2-3” to the waist for a correct fit. When I made my size chart and grading rules, I looked at the somewhat idealized proportions some of the big pattern companies use and tried to use measurements that were based more on real bodies than their dress form proportions. My hope is that my sizing will fit more rectangular/apple shaped/pear shaped figures better, since statistically it seems to be more the norm than the hourglass in the real human population.
I have never been a big wearer of skirts for my own wardrobe, but between sweltering humid Missouri summer, being on a 50s/60s movie kick when baby wakes me up in the middle of the night and discovering the wonderful drama that is the tango skirt, I think I need to add some to my wardrobe. (Last night’s 3am insomnia feature was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. Made a boring old pencil skirt look downright savage.) I also wanted to draft them because the skirt is really the bottom half of so many full body patterns like robes and coats that I felt like I should expand my knowledge of that type of lower body garment to better draft the full body ones.
I’m thinking of posting some step by step photos of the process of sloper sewing, fitting, and then adjusting patterns with them, because examples of actually using a personal sloper aren’t all that easy to find. It’s also a good way to start on the capsule wardrobe I’ve been wanting to sew when I Marie Kondo declutter the rest of my clothes again. The transition from pregnant body to postpartum body has complicated it a bit, too, since my figure isn’t quite the same as it was before and everything is trending lower and squishier than it used to. So I’m resolving to sew for the body I have, discard anything that doesn’t fit or can’t be altered to fit, and then take in as needed in the future. Clothing that just sort of fits is such a big part of the clutter in my house it’s silly, especially for someone with sewing/fitting on the brain so much.
Lots of lingerie and other sewing and crafting stuff to share, but I’ll save it for another day. My personal life is a fog of sleep deprivation and coffee but also baby giggles and summer vacation with my big kiddo, too. Hope summer finds you well, too, Gentle Reader.