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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.

If you were using the sloper that this pattern was drafted from instead of your own, of course, there'd be no such questions. You'd see exactly the amount of design ease the designer intended at every seam, and how (and where) he or she had repositioned the dart shaping that's built into every sloper for the female figure. The exact relationship between the outlines of the sloper and pattern at every point is the record of the designer's idea of a good fit for that garment.

From this relationship comes the idea that it makes sense to alter a pattern company's basic fitting shell before trying to alter individual patterns from it. If a company's patterns were all drafted from the same sloper, once you knew how to make that sloper fit you, you'd be able to change any other of the company's patterns and it would fit you the same way it fit the sloper. Well, this implies that you should adjust the basic fitting pattern from every company whose patterns you want to make. But not all companies publish one. Worse, not all patterns from companies that do publish one are drafted from that same sloper, and there's no way to tell which aren't! Happily, there's a simpler way.

Introducing "Match the Slopers"
To make the process I'll describe easier to visualize, start by imagining an 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. Next, imagine laying your own sloper over the "ideal" one, also aligned at center back and shoulders.

Now, what if you simply cut apart the pattern and shifted the pieces so the outline of its sloper exactly matched yours? You'd have altered the pattern to fit your sloper, without changing the design ease the unaltered pattern had to start with.

I've actually traced an "ideal" sloper onto a commercial pattern derived from it (see Step 2 below). It turns out that with nothing more than a few horizontal and vertical tucks and/or slashes, it's easy to make one sloper's outline match the other's. Once I did it, the resulting garment fit!

Step 2: "Match the slopers" by adjusting yours

Process is same for front and back: adjust horizontals first, then verticals by folding or slashing and spreading your sloper to fit pattern outline with your preferred amounts of wearing and design ease at each seam. Fold over thin ruler to help start folds. Use repositionable glue stick to bond sloper tissue to pattern after matching.

Adjustments should be made horizontally and evenly across pattern, except at shoulders, where alteration will be slanted:
Check/adjust armscye.
Check/adjust waistline.
Check/adjust shoulder slope.

Adjustments can be angled and needn't be equal across pattern; wedges OK:
Check/adjust width from CB to neckline at shoulder.
Check/adjust width from neckline at shoulder to shoulder point.
Check/adjust width from shoulder point to side seam.
Step 2:
Back (left) 
1. Horizontals: Armscye difference is substantial, so slash just below armscye, then fold sloper across armscye to match bottom of armscye curve to pattern. Fold sloper across dart to match waist. Fold wedge on sloper at shoulder to match pattern (no pads on pattern).
2. Verticals: No vertical adjustment needed (1-1/2-in. design ease OK). Use hip measurement or skirt sloper to match/adjust vertical seams below waist.

Front (right) 
3. Horizontals: Fold sloper across armscye to match bottom edge to pattern. Fold sloper above dart to raise waistline. Make angled fold on sloper at shoulder to match pattern.
4. Verticals: Width OK from center to shoulder point. Make angled fold on sloper across armscye to get desired design ease at side seam (1 in.).

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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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