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The Merits of a Basic Fitting Pattern

Slopers help simplify the fitting process.
Slopers help simplify the fitting process.

Slopers help simplify the fitting process.

See Step 1 (below) for a simple example of sloper/pattern alignment using a pattern shaped much like the sloper. Start with a commercial pattern that matches your measurements as closely as possible at the shoulders if it's a top, or at the hips if it's a bottom (though the technique works equally well if the pattern is sized very differently from the sloper).

Step 1: Align/assess sloper and pattern

All outlines are without seam allowances, and alignment process is same for front and back.
1. Mark seamlines on commercial pattern (or trace pattern along seamlines only).
2. Trace sloper onto separate tissue.
3. Position sloper tissue over pattern with centers aligned, then slide sloper up or down until shoulders match at neckline. Start with back, then work on front. 4. Pivot and distribute dart control (see sidebar on p. 50) as necessary to make side seams parallel and align dart placement. Comments below reflect author's judgment of commercial pattern at each seam, based on comparison with her sloper:
Step 1: Align/assess sloper and pattern
Front (left) 
1. Shoulder on pattern too sloped.
2. Armscye on pattern too high.
3. Prefer armscye shape on pattern; sloper fits too snugly for this style.
4. Not sure which above-dart side seam will work best; mark both and test at muslin stage.
5. Side seams not parallel; need to pivot dart control; after pivoting, not enough design ease at side seam.
6. Waistline on pattern too high.
7. Prefer sloper neckline.

Back (right) 
1. Prefer sloper neckline.
2. Waistline on pattern too high.
3. Waistline dart OK.
4. Use hip measurement or skirt sloper to compare below waistline.
5. Design ease at side OK.
6. Armscye on pattern too high.
7. Shoulder dart pivoted to armscye because pattern shoulder seam is straight, without dart, suggesting that's what designer did.
8. Shoulder on pattern too sloped.

Work with the back first, positioning the back pattern over the back sloper and aligning the two center-back lines. Imagine you're pulling a garment on over your head: keeping the center backs aligned, slide the pattern until the sloper's shoulder contacts the stitching line of the pattern's shoulder. The sloper represents you, and the pattern parts not covered up by your sloper show the design ease. Is there enough (or too much) design ease at the waist? the hips? across the bust? Is your sloper outside the stitching lines in places, indicating the pattern is too small there? Are the shoulder seams a different length and at a different angle than your shoulders? How far below your own underarm is that armscye supposed to fall?

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Comments (10)

catstexas catstexas writes: I wish Threads would encourage THE BIG 4 to do just this:

'ideal world in which every pattern comes with an outline of the sloper it evolved from drawn right on the pattern, aligned at center back and shoulders as described in the "2-D dress-form" example above"

Thanks for an enlightening article; I learned a lot.

Posted: 4:07 pm on November 18th

MollieJ MollieJ writes: Since it is described pretty well I got the idea, but I think a video would be extremely useful to beginners.
Posted: 6:04 am on August 10th

user-3220369 user-3220369 writes: I don't always appreciate all the help my computer gives me.....I meant sloper not slower!
Posted: 5:06 pm on December 30th

user-3220369 user-3220369 writes: Great article . I am copying it so I can have it handy all the time. I understand the concept and feel like I had an epiphany and really finally realize how to use my slower. Thank you
Posted: 5:04 pm on December 30th

tzipi tzipi writes: This is one of the most excellent articles I have ever read. I knew the concept of using a sloper but never knew how to do it. Excellent. Thank you
Posted: 9:22 pm on October 1st

KathySews KathySews writes: This is interesting and needed. I have been shown how to make a sloper but never how to use it. I do agree with Seraphim, I did not follow the part where the sloper was being manipulated. I need a video of someone adjusting a pattern to her sloper.
Posted: 9:59 am on April 20th

hvnlyhost hvnlyhost writes: I love all of the people that know more than I do about sewing and pattern making, you truly help to stretch me even further in the sewing field. Loving it...THANKS BUNCHES!!

Posted: 12:51 pm on November 7th

Seraphim Seraphim writes: I found this article very helpful. My daughter sews a lot of custom work and she measured and created a sloper for me. I was on my own to figure how to use it to fit other patterns.
I did get confused by the middle section when I was seeing the sloper being manipulated to fit the pattern, it didn't seem to make sense.

Posted: 12:07 pm on January 28th

prodileida prodileida writes: hola gracias por este espacio tan bello donde podemos ayudarnos necesito hacer un vestido imperio de novia y quiero ver algunos patrones gracias

Posted: 11:13 am on November 20th

celticstitcher celticstitcher writes: thanks for this, its really helpful, and just what I was looking for
Posted: 4:54 am on July 19th

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