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Sloper – Sewing without a pattern

schylar | Posted in Fitting on

HELP!!  I am am looking for a book or a class or a seminar – something – that will help me learn to sew without a pattern.  I understand that a basic sloper is needed depending on what you wish to sew (skirt, dress, pants etc..) However, I don’t understand how I would draft, for example, an A-line skirt from a sloper.  If anyone knows of a book that was helpful to them or if someone would be kind enough to share their own knowledge and experience with me, I would be eternally grateful!!  I live in New York City now but I am moving to San Francisco in three months (just in case anyone knows of a class I could take).  I am a relatively new sewer, but I am loving it!!!  Thank you everyone!!           


  1. JeanEsther | | #1

    If you're looking for instructions on how to make your own patterns from a sloper, the Threads book, Easy Guide to Sewing Pants, has instructions on how to fit a pants sloper beginning with a pattern, and then how to take that sloper and make your own patterns. You're ambitious! Have fun.

  2. FitnessNut | | #2

    There are a number of books available with detailed instructions on drafting a sloper, several of which I have. Many of these are listed on amazon or other on-line booksellers, so you can check them out there. You might also consider a computer programme that can do it for you, some of which you can use to also draft the final patterns (Cadterns, Fittingly Sew, Wild Ginger to name a few). Threads magazine did a review of computer patternmaking software in issue 106 that might be helpful if you decide to go that route.

    Winifred Aldrich, "Metric Pattern Cutting"

    Helen Joseph-Armstrong, "Patternmaking for Fashion Design"

    Esmod, "Pattern Making Manual"

    My favourites are the first two, but since you don't have much experience in what to do with the sloper once you have it, I would recommend the Armstrong book. Also, Kenneth King has a book out on cd-rom which has been discussed in this forum. Apparently his directions for drafting a European-style sloper are very good. See http://www.kennethdking.com for information.

    Have fun learning this new and rewarding skill!

  3. Elisabeth | | #3

    Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong will tell you just about everything you can do from a basic sloper and how to draft the basic sloper from your measurements. It is an in depth text and a great reference.

    1. schylar | | #6

      Thank you so much for your suggestion!  I was just in Barnes and Noble on my lunch hour checking it out and it is an amazing book!!  It's a little pricey so I may have to wait until next week to pick it up (this is rent and bills week), but I am definitely going to add it to my library.  Thanks again!       

      1. FitnessNut | | #7

        You may want to wait a bit before buying the Armstrong book (that IS the one you are talking about, isn't it?)......I checked on Amazon and there is a new edition dated September 1, 2004, which isn't likely to be in stores yet. I'd wait for the new one, or pre-order it online.

      2. Elisabeth | | #8

        I'm glad you got to get a good look at it before buying it. That always helps with that kind of price! Sandy's suggestion to wait for the new edition might be a good idea. The edition I have has occasional typos that causes some confusion, but nothing I can't work through. Hopefully those will have been corrected in the new edition. Either way it is definitely worth the investment.

      3. ShannonG4d | | #9

        One more book to suggest....if you have never done this before, I'd recommend searching out a copy of Adele Margolis' "Make Your Own Dress Patterns".  It is a very good introduction to the process, easy to follow, and logically presented.  Not quite as "lofty" as the texts mentioned above (which I also own), but still my favorite for common sense solutions to a pattern drafting problem.  You can usually find a copy of it for sale at http://www.alibris.com  or some other used-book dealer. 


  4. ablakemo | | #4

    Thanks for starting this thread--all the info people have shared has been great! This has been an interest of mine as well, I've been doing allot of reading on the subject. I wish you fun!!

    1. schylar | | #5

      You are welcome!  I was also very excited to see such informed responses!  Happy Sewing!

  5. enidshapiro | | #10

    This is complicated stuff.  I would take a course at your local college.

  6. laural | | #11

    Hi. I took an online class by Heather Claus http://www.mysewingclasses.com called building blocks. She has numerous classes, including making a dressmaking dummy. There is a chance to post emails from other class members, she replies to comments and offers suggestions. The Building Blocks class allowed you to wrap yourself in saran wrap, mark darts, waist, shoulder seam, side seams, center back, center front, neckline and bust with permanent marker. Then, cut off the plastic "sloper" at center front and center back and each side seams. Slit open darts so pattern lies flat. Add seam allowances, and desired ease. She explores different amts of ease, and then how to use this to modify existing patterns. It was useful and added to what I had already learned on my own.

  7. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #12

    Since you are moving to San Francisco, I will tell you that I teach classes in Santa Rosa (about 50 miles north) on Building a Personal Fit Basic Block,

    Building a Personal Fit Body Double (Dressform Cover) and French Couture style Fashion Draping, as well as a few other related courses. I was very fortunate to have Helen Joseph Armstrong (author of "Patternmaking for Fashion Design") as my teacher at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. My draping instructor was Suzanne Pierette Stern who was "first hand" (premier draper) in the Paris salon of Jacques Fath in the 1950's. I was lucky to have the best of the best on both counts. If you would like to pursue any of those subjects, my classes will begin again in JAN. 2005 at The Place to Sew, 530 McConnell, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 707 566-4600. You can look up the current calendar for the school at:


    Currently, class schedules reflect the interests of the holiday season, but during the rest of the year, courses in Dressmaking, Tailoring, Home Decor, Upholstery, Silk Painting, Quilting and a myriad of fine craft projects are available.

    Best wishes on your pursuit of the finer points of dressmaking! Susan Fredrick

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