Phase 1: Sloper Patterns

In my innocence, I thought creating a bodice sloper and sleeves would take me a couple of weeks. In fact it has taken me nine months, although I have added a dress and skirt sloper and a shirt block in that time. It is an understatement to say this has been a labour of love but I knew that without accurate sloper patterns it would be impossible to develop my own designs and then make them into well-fitting garments.

I am assuming that anyone reading a blog like this understands the difference between a sloper and a block but just in case:

A sloper is a flat-pattern representation of the skin, or as close as one can get to it. They are called ‘slopers’ because they recreate the slopes and curves of the body switching from a 2D flat to a 3D form. Slopers include wearing ease but no design ease: you can breath and walk in a sloper but not much else, though they should be comfortable when standing still and not too tight. Typically a range of slopers is developed: a bodice with a shoulder bust dart, a skirt sloper, a dress sloper, a sleeve sloper and a sloper for trousers. In theory, once you have a complete set of slopers, you should be able to design any garment you want using them as a template. The reality is rather more complicated but the principle remains. Trying to fit a sloper by yourself is possible but arduous. If you have a fitting buddy you will save much time and frustration.

A block is the pattern of a basic garment such as a shift dress, shirt or jacket that can be used repeatedly as the starting point of a new design. For example, the neckline or sleeves on a shift dress can be altered to create a new look. Garment blocks generally have both wearing and design ease added in already, so much time is saved. Ideally, blocks are made of durable material such as card so they can withstand repeated handling.

Here are some photographs, the fruits of my labour….

..and the dress sloper garment that I made by combining the above bodice with a skirt sloper.

My dressform has the same measurements as I do but is not quite the same shape. The sloper fits me slightly better but I couldn’t take a selfie without distorting the garment.

Here is my rail with all my slopers and my shirt blocks.

And finally, my shirt muslin. (This is version four!)

Finishing this muslin marks the completion of the first phase of this project.

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