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How do I make a sloper?

user-181727 | Posted in Fitting on

Hi, I just joined this forum.  In fact, I have never been part of an online forum so I am excited to access the the wealth of knowledge that is out there.  I am a self-taught seamstress and have recently begun sewing capri’s from a self made pattern which I have tweaked a few times to fit me better.  I don’t like the fit I get with most pants available in department stores. 

I recently stumbled on the concept of a pattern that fits only me called a sloper.  The thought excites me.  Women for thousands of years must have known how to take measurements and tailor-make clothing.  I am thrilled to know that others  in this day and age still know how and that all these skills aren’t lost. 

I got on line and tryed to find instructions on how to make a sloper for me and I didn’t get anywhere.  Do any of you know of a website or a book that can tell me how to do this?  I am interested in top and bottom — to make shirts, skirts, and pants. Thank-you ahead of time for steering me in the right direction!

Suzy-Q

Replies

  1. anniebee1941 | | #1

    Hi Suzy,

    I'm new to this site and forum also. Like you, I am interested in making a sloper for both upper and lower. There are some instructiions in the Threads website on the "how to's" and I know that at least one of the pattern companies makes a fitting pattern which is supposed to be like a sloper.

    What I am going to do is look for a book by Margaret Islander who is out of Oregon and has all kinds of wonderful classes on making slopers and patterns. A friend of mine in Tucson worked and traveled with her for a while and since moving back to Indiana I have lost a valuable resource for answers to my sewing problems as well as a very nice friend.

    Let me know if you hear of any other good sources. And, good luck.

    Annie

    1. AndreaSews | | #2

      Try this article, which describes exactly what to do with a sloper.  At the bottom there's info on where to learn how to make one.  http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00036.asp

      I haven't read the book referenced in the article, but what I've done is paired up with someone while you're wearing your snuggest camisole and undies and have them drape you with a gingham fabric.  You spread the fabric first over your shoulders, making a cut-out for your neckline, and pinning and marking (literally with a marker) the center back and top of shoulders.  You smooth the fabric, and then pin up darts as needed to make it fit like a glove.  Then you go on to do the front, making bust and waist darts and pinning side seams as well, keeping the straights of grain parrallel all around, particularly at the cebter front and back and side seams.  All of the darts are for making things snug and smooth everywhere else.  Mark all of the seams and then take it off and tinker with it as you wish.  You can practice draping on a dressform to get the feel, and then you can instruct even a novice to help you (my husband does great!).

    2. user-181727 | | #4

      Thanks a bunch Annie,

      I appreciate the leads!

  2. mem | | #3

    You could go to Vogue patterns and they have a sloper pattern and they also tell you how to alter it to fit just you  . Then you make it up in muslin to check that it is you and there you have a master pattern which will be useful in telling you how you need to alter all other patterns . i was reading that traditionally the seams etc on a sloper were marked in red and the changes are marked in blue .I use an B pencil to draw on my muslin patterns and then put them away with the paper pattern and envelope into a large zip lock plastic bag   I think that buying a good fit book such as Fit for Everybody is also very advisable as that will help you to see what is wrong and how to fix it on any pattern including your sloper. There is also a book in the same series just for pants . It is excellent too. Both are palmer Pletch publications.

    1. user-181727 | | #5

      I seem to have a store-bought pattern phobia.  I suppose it is because I have rarely sewn with a pattern, but maybe I could figure out their slpoer pattern.  I'll give it a whirl.  Thanks

  3. mainestitcher | | #6

    "Women for thousands of years must have known how to take measurements and tailor-make clothing. "

    Not so much. Making costumes for re-enactors and historical costume for theater, I have learned that well-fitting clothing is a relatively recent invention. The seventeenth (?) century trousers were very baggy in the back, with almost no crotch curve. The shirts, to save material, were made of different sized squares and rectangles stitched together.

    Women's clothing had similar fabric-saving features: straight seams, rectangular pieces, quite snug, too.

    Many times, advice is worth what you pay for it. For a relatively inexpensive beginning, you can try Kenneth King's cd, "The Moulage." This creates a form-fitting base pattern which you can use to create other garments. He is an expert at what he does, and the cd is much less than the pattern making books out there, which are usually textbooks (read many $) for fashion design students.

    When you take the plunge, you may want to look into the Helen Joseph Armstrong book, which will tell you how to make a sloper, and how to adapt it into the garment of your choosing. Since the fourth edition just came out, you may be able to pick up the third edition at a good price. It's really good.

    1. user-181727 | | #7

      Thanks for your insights. What is the Helen Joseph Armstrong book titled?  Also is the Kenneth King CD computer software?  I assumed form fitted sewing had been around forever.  How interesting for me to find out that it is relatively new.  I am also a budding history enthusiast.  Do you know of any good reference material about the history of tailoring.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

      1. mainestitcher | | #8

        "Patternmaking For Fashion Design" is the Joseph-Armstrong book.The Kenneth King item is not software: more like a book on CD. I don't actually have my cd handy, I just printed out the thing first chance I got. So no, you won't be plugging in some figures and have the computer print it out.I found actual pattern drafting to be the reason I should have taken more seriously the math I was exposed to in school. It's not that hard: there is a fair amount of dividing things by four or six, and adding up numbers that include fractional amounts. I have little calculators everywhere (Wal*mart sells them for $2 apiece). But the better I understand the math, the easier it goes. (You have to convert the fractions to decimals to use the calculator.) Now that I think about it, if you used centimeters, you wouldn't have to convert anything either. So...flip that tape measure over, and use the other side. Before you cry, "Metric! I can't dooo metric!" Of course you can. The numbers are read the exact same way, and in the same order. Really. They just refer to a different amount of space.As for the history of clothing, a search on Amazon.com should turn up the titles of any books in print. I expect they're pricey. There is another solution:Ready?...Your public library. Remember the library? The quiet place with the card catalog? The Dewey Decimal System? Even the libraries in East Podunk have converted the venerable card catalog to computer system now. The staff will be tickled to see you. You tell them you want to find any of these books, and they will help you. If your library doesn't have what you want, they can borrow it from another library.Specialized books on "mens' Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century clothing" will likely have to be obtained through inter-library loan, anyway. Maybe they could have a copy of the Helen Joseph-Armstrong book loaned, too, so you can see if it's something you'd want to own for yourself.

        1. user-181727 | | #17

          I used to like math so hopefully I could understand it OK.  It has been a few years though, but I'll give it a whirl!  Thanks for the Joseph-Armstrong book title.  I am making a note!

      2. anniebee1941 | | #11

        Hi Suzy, I see there are all kinds of wonderful messages here with very sage advice and avenues to explore. I'm afraid I am a book freak (my library is about 2000 strong) ... going through some of my sewing books I ran across "Sewing Secrets From the Fashion Industry" by Susan Huxley. It is well-written and has a ton of pictures showing exactly how you make your sloper from the fitting patterns available from any of the pattern companies. She even goes so far as to tell you which companies draft patterns with more or less ease in various parts of the patterns. Once you get the blocks of the sloper tweaked for a perfect fit the objective is to use it to make sure your subsequent fashion patterns will fit. The book costs $29.95 but I bought a used copy from Powells for $18.99. If you aren't familiar with Powell's let me know and I'll post the information to order from them ... or better yet ... just Google Powell's Book Store. I have found their ratings of used books to be right on target and have never been dissatisfied.And then, if you are not a biblio freak like me, perhaps your local library will have it or can get it for you. I know that I do not want to draft patterns and Huxley addresses that concept in the book ... it takes a looonnnnggg time to learn the art ... but a sloper sounds like it is just the thing for the problem with fitting. Good luck, Annie

        1. user-181727 | | #16

          Thanks for steering me to "Sewing Secrets From the Fashion Industry".  Maybe I can find it on e-bay or amazon.

          1. anniebee1941 | | #20

            You're welcome. After I read your message I looked on the powell.com book site and was amazed to discover they are out of stock on the book. I went out on the "vintage" page someone posted and discovered that there is a wealth of "free" info on that one. Thanks to the poster ... even though I have Huxley book this looks like a really superior site. Suzy, I am really glad you posted the question. Also, I am very glad I joined this forum ... wonderful information!!Annie

  4. poo | | #9

    the best source (and its free) for directions on a personal sloper are at http://vintagesewing.info/1940s/42-mpd/mpd-02.html
    I teach a class in how to draft a personal sloper, and I tested about 8 different drafting methods including Kenneth King, Elizabeth Allemong, Helen Joseph-Armstrong, Rhor, and a few others, I like the draft of the vintage sewing book (I actually found a real copy of this book on ebay - it's a treasure).

    What do you plan to do with this sloper after you make it? do you plan to go into drafting your own patterns or use it to evaluate and adjust the fit of commercial patterns? Do you know how to do that? (thats the second half of my class.)

    YOur measurements will change a tiny bit every time you take them, retake them about 3 times and use the average of them.

    1. mem | | #12

      what a great site i am going to print it all out!!!!!!!!!

      1. mem | | #13

        actually i have just bought a copy on amazon.

    2. sewchris703 | | #14

      Thank you for the site address.  I have copied the sloper directions and signed up for updates.  One more reason to be on the computer instead of sewing.

      Chris

    3. sewstudent | | #15

      Would I ever love to access your class so I could use the sloper information to sew commercial patterns. Any hope of this?  I am one of the great "unfittables" out there!!

    4. user-181727 | | #18

      Thanks for the website!  What I plan on doing with a personal sloper pattern is make my own clothes.  I am not experienced at sewing from patterns.  I've only used one or two that I can remember in the past several years.  I guess I'll be experimenting with creating my own designs!

    5. zuwena | | #21

      What a great site.  I have not yet had an opportunity to read through the chapters thoroughly but they seem wonderful and in line with the "modern thinking" I found recently in a course at FIT, New York.  Thanks again for passing it along.  I will be sending them a donation.  It is important to keep a good thing going.

    6. stitchintime | | #22

      Yes, thanks for the tip on the vintage sewing site. I checked it out last night. I'm going to try the sloper they have and compare it to the one I made in a course I took 14 (yikes!) years ago.

  5. zuwena | | #10

    I'd like to offer one other book resource, which is used at the Fashion Institute in New York:  Draping for Fashion Design by Hilde Jaffe and Nurie Relis, 4th Edition.  As noted by one of the other posters, the book is fairly expensive--I believe around $65.00   but earlier editions, with the same basic information, may be cheaper.  It covers basic tops and skirts, and variations of these plus pants.

    1. user-181727 | | #19

      Thank-you.  I'm glad it includes pants.  I hate how most store-bought pants fit me.

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