The Merits of a Basic Fitting Pattern
I've found that the easiest and most controllable way to do this in practice is simply the opposite of what I just described: first tuck and/or slash your sloper to make it fit the ideal one, adhere it to the pattern underneath (repositionable glue stick is perfect for the job), slash completely across the pattern beneath each horizontal and vertical sloper tuck or slash, then return your sloper to its original shape, taking the pattern with it. It's just that easy, and the step-by-step examples in Step 2 and Step 3 walk you through the process on a simple pattern. I'll cover more complex examples in a future article.
So, where's the sloper in the pattern?
Of course, there is not a sloper drawn on your patterns, and this is no doubt only one of the objections spinning in your head, as they were in mine when this idea first dawned on me. Now that I've worked with the method a while, I'm even more convinced of its usefulness, especially if you've been unhappy with more traditional pattern-alteration methods. But I have to remind myself that I'm an experienced patternmaker, as I try to explain to other sewers how this can work. Fortunately, I've been pleased with how easily many beginners have taken to the process after a brief orientation. Here's how to see that imaginary sloper:
First, remember that the primary difference between the sloper and pattern is design ease— someone else's idea of how much extra room the garment should have in relation to the body inside it for this particular style, and where this room should be placed. So, rather than drawing or even imagining some precise, ideal sloper, all you need to do is reshape your sloper in relation to the pattern until you feel that the garment will have the right ease in the right places. You can use measurements given on the pattern envelope, on charts of standard ease allowances (like those in the pattern catalogs), the illustration on the pattern envelope, and your own judgment and experience in equal measure as you determine the appropriate ease. You'll be refining whatever you decide at the muslin stage, anyway, so you don't need to get bogged down with ultraprecision at this point.
In fact, being able to see, at every point along every seam, the exact difference between your sloper (whose fit you know is correct, if skintight) and the pattern you don't know allows you to make more immediate, precise, and intuitive decisions about how you want each garment to fit (more like your sloper, or more like the designer intended?), with less experience, than just about any other alteration technique. The feeling of control and understanding is great!
Start, as in the directions in Step 1 by aligning the pattern and sloper (with darts repositioned as described) along center back and center front, then at the shoulders. Simply mark how much ease you'd like at each point listed.