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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.

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.

Step 3: Return sloper to original shape
Step 2:
Front (left) 
Make sure sloper tissue is firmly bonded to pattern tissue on either side of all folds, wedges, and slashes, using repositionable glue stick. Large sheet of poster board can be handy surface for securing adjusted final pattern (use glue stick), after returning sloper to its original position.

Amount of design ease depends on fabric and preference.

Back (right) 
Cut across entire pattern directly below each fold or wedge on sloper. Spreading slashes on pattern to extend attached sloper will allow movement. When returning sloper slash to its original position, fold pattern tissue underneath slash.

True all changed seamlines, averaging between new and old lines when different. Reposition all dart points at least 1/2 in. from apexes.

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.
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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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