March 7, 2012

Sloper Sweetness - Pt. I

I've wanted to talk about my experience with my bodice sloper since Christmas - when I finally got down to brass tacks and perfected the fit for it - and have been at a loss as to where to begin. I've decided to do a series of posts on this subject. Now, I'm not an expert on this subject, but hey, it never hurts to hear this stuff from someone who's tried it right?

Today I wanted to talk about what a sloper is and how to go about getting one. Plus this is a great way to get input from you so that everyone gets more than just my opinion here. First, what is a sloper? A sloper (also known as a basic block) is a basic pattern from which other patterns can be made. There can be many different types of slopers, for instance you can have a bodice sloper, a sleeve sloper, and pants sloper. Within those categories you can even narrow it down even more and create slopers for various different types of say bodices - bodices with 2 darts and 1 dart, a knit bodice sloper and the like. Does that make sense? It's the building block, so to speak. And hey, if you're new to this and you feel that this might be a bit over your head right now, don't worry - I did too when I got back into sewing several years ago. I've acquired a lot of knowledge from textbooks, blogs, friends who sew and trial and error.

Now how do you go about making a sloper, getting one, fitting one etc.? There are a few ways and I would be remiss to say that one way of doing it is better than the other. Firstly, you can draft your own. You can purchase a pattern drafting book and go from there. Currently I own Patternmaking Made Easy by Connie Crawford and Building Patterns by Suzy Furrer - both are excellent and high recommendations from me! They'll take you through all the steps, techniques, and measurements to create your own slopers/blocks. To go along with pattern drafting books, I feel that a fitting book is a good companion as the two arts go hand in hand. Just because you draft the sloper does not mean it will automatically fit you. I recommend Fit For Real People or The Perfect Fit. Both have been indispensible standbys for me.

You can also perfect the fit on a basic fitting shell and use it as a basic sloper and even a way to create more slopers. Two amazing books to own on this way of doing it are the Adele Margolis' texts How to Make Clothes Fit & Flatter and Design Your Own Dress Patterns. The former takes you through great fitting techniques to get a perfect fit for a sloper, the latter gives you a step by step guide to create your own patterns from your sloper.

Don't have the money to purchase a bunch of texts? I know - its tight all around these days. There are some great tutorials on the web too! Have a gander at this one and this one from Madalynne and I also recall seeing several rounds of instructions on BurdaStyle from various members on how to do this too!

Next, you'll want to splurge on a few tools, if you don't have them already, to rip apart, slice and dice and do some nasty stuff to your pattern. Even if I've drafted the thing myself, I find I still have to make alterations and adjustments.
✂ First things first - paper! Can I just say, sometimes its hard to find the right pattern paper. I'm such a snob about certain papers and I've tried a ton! A great place to start is in the kitchen - I had a round with wax paper once, but I hate that you can't write on it very well. Love parchment paper - but only for very final versions of a sloper I plan to use for altering as it doesn't take tape well. Otherwise, using parchment works really well if you intend to use your sloper to adjust patterns, then you just have to lay your sloper over the top of a pattern and see where to go about making the adjustments. Recently I purchased this fantastic roll of paper and paper holder/dispenser from IKEA. The paper rolls are only $5 - best paper ever! I love it. There's also pattern paper - I can't find this stuff locally and finally I just stopped looking for it! And I've never wanted to pay shipping for it! Aw well! For the final pattern - I use oak tag found at a specialty framing store nearby. If you plan to pattern draft, having a sloper in oak tag is lovely.
Rulers! What would pattern drafting and slicing and dicing be without them? I highly recommend a hip curve, a yardstick and plain old straight ruler.
Pencils. Paper scissors. And I've also found a tracing wheel handy, which I use to trace off a pattern or sloper onto that IKEA paper which takes the tracing wheel very well. A rotary mat, unless you have access to actual pattern paper, otherwise this makes a great substitute for not having that. One of those cardboard cutting tables would do the trick too! Don't forget tape - I just use scotch tape.
Last but not least, you'll need muslin to mock up several versions of your sloper and get that fit perfect!

Alright! Now, that I've gone on and on, what do you say? A lot of info for one post, I know. Have you made your own sloper? Do you use it? Ideas or tips to share? What about your tool chest? What are your recommedations?

If nothing else friends, I hope this gives you an idea of where to start with getting your hands a little itchy for making your own sloper. I'll have more installments on slopers coming up and how I've used them to alter patterns, which can minimize the making of muslins and that is the best news of all! Yay! Plus I'll go over what I've started with here and give you things I've done that are much more in depth. Ok? Ok.

Sloping out of here,
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