Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 1.25: the Muslin

Getting to this part took a little while because in the midst of all this I resized my dress form so my fit was accurate. I took my sloper bodice pattern and traced it on to muslin fabric, adding seam allowances all around. Stitch them up like a vest, closing the darts, and match the center front. I made 4 of each so I could match the different bodice fronts with different backs in case I like the Madalynne back with the Sewing.WonderHowto Front.

Here is the Madalynne sloper front with Madalynne back.  As you can see it is too wide across the back on the shoulders and there is a gap in the front of the armhole.  I could probably adjust the back with some darts on the shoulder.  I do like the dart placement on this front.

Here is the Sewing.WonderHowTo sloper front with matching back.  You can see it is too tight, even with the weird ease added in at the waist.  The side seam does not hang straight either.  It is a little too short and doesn’t hit the waist by about 1/2 to 3/4 inches.  So another one bites the dust.

IMG_0662So I put the Madalynne Back on because overall I thought it fit the best.  You can see that the side seam isn’t straight so this area would need some adjusting.






The I put the Sewing How To front with it that didn’t fit too well either. IMG_0663

You can see it pinned on and see that the dart is too far up on the breast and another dart is needed at the arm hole.

This is so frustrating.  I am not sure if the instructions just aren’t good for me or I can’t get the measurements right.

I just tell myself that patience will win out and I will find one that works eventually.


Here are the two fronts side by side.IMG_0664

Neither one fit that great.

Stay tuned for Part 1.5 another tutorial to try and Part 1.75, another muslin.  I’ll get to the rest of the slopers eventually.  I hope this is just the hardest one!

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 1: the Bodice

I figured that with my interest in modifying patterns to fit me it is about time I draft my own sloper or pattern block. A sloper or pattern block is a basic pattern custom fitted from which all other patterns can grow. I’ve never made one before but sure am going to try. I hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful pattern drafting journey.

Following my mantra of read several tutorials first, I found the following tutorials:




I will try each one and see if they come out the same. If I get really desperate then there are always the wonderful online classes at Cratsy.com to walk me through it.

So for my first draft I tried the Open Source Stiches sloper, which was supposed to end up with both a front and back sloper. Needless to say something went wrong.

open source stitches

I think it was somewhere around Step 11 and the shoulder length must be wrong.  I read the directions several times and followed them exactly but either the explanation for measuring is wrong or just plain confusing. I also note several other places where I had questions such as step 10 where at first I wondered if they were talking about armscye circumference or depth and step 14 where they ask for a measurement from armscye seam to armscye seam. I wasn’t sure if it was where the arm meets the body or under the arm at the side seam.

So this one didn’t even make it to the muslin stage.

Round 2 was the Madalynne sloper, front and back. The instructions looked pretty good with some measurement diagrams. Over all it was pretty easy but there are some confusing parts. On the front the diagram has a very exaggerated dart and no good description of where to place the dart. So mine didn’t look like the picture. There is also no dart to the shoulder as I often see in front slopers.

The back was pretty easy to follow as well but there was no instruction on where to start drawing on the paper. Also, there is a naming error from the measuring diagram (neck width) to the measurement list (back neck) so that was confusing. One of the letters “U” wasn’t on the drawing so I had to guess from the instructions where it was.

I had to measure twice because the measurement diagrams were a little confusing to my measurement helper (non-sewing husband). I recommend a sewing partner to take measurements.

Round 3 was the Sewing Wonder How To basic bodice pattern. This one I am not sure will work out as the armscye does not look right. It does not look deep enough on the front or the back. I also has some ease added at the waist on the front and back but no ease anywhere else. That seems odd to me. The sloper should be very form fitting with minimal ease and then the ease built in when it is turned into a pattern. They also have you make the neck measurements as a fraction of the waist measurement and I am not sure there is a proven ratio there at all.   My last and final criticism is that there are no clear measuring instructions which are critical to a sloper. I think I may have measured a few of mine wrong because they just didn’t make sense.

sewing wonder howto

So far the Madalynne instructions are in the lead but stay tuned for the muslins and fitting on the dress form to see who is the true winner.

Full Circle Blouse Outfit

Circle blouse outfit

This blouse fabric is VF155-27 from Vogue Fabric Store. I love their swatch program and reasonable prices. I get 5 catalogs a year and usually make at least 3 outfits per year. My outfits usually cost $100 for 3 pieces in coordinated fabric. And they fit me perfectly! I don’t know where I would find that in a store! For this outfit, I made pants out of matching polyester fabric VF155-30, McCall’s pattern 5941 view E. I customized this wide leg pant pattern to my shape and I’m not giving it up since it is out of print. It has become my goto pant pattern because of the smooth wide waistband and flat fit with no darts or pleats. I usually add pockets to this pattern (look for my next tutorial on pocket drafting. I suggest finding a similar style and making a custom fitting. I paired this outfit with a sweater I had made previously out of a Vogue Fabrics knit VF111-39 in Vogue pattern 8780.

Full Circle Blouse Tutorial

If you saw my tutorial on the Half Circle Blouse experiment, here is the full circle one. This is for fabric approximately 58 inches wide. You will need about 2.5 yards.


Here is my paper mock up pattern. circle blouse pattern

I sketched my pattern out on a piece of paper first. I measured my neck and then added an inch of overlap for fastening, then added seam allowances (I use 5/8” but use whatever you are used to). That was my length for the neckband. For finished width I decided on 2.5 inches so I doubled it and added seam allowances so my total was 17.5 inches long X 5 inches wide. That was my neckband pattern.


Then I drafted the blouse pattern on a piece of paper. I knew my fabric was going to be 58” which is 29” folded. I then assumed I would fold the fabric over from the end to form a square 29” by 29”. Now I had to do some fancy figuring (remember the geometry!) to figure out the rest of the measurements. I know I wanted to gather the neck into the neckband to I wanted the neck opening to be double my neck size so for me that was about 30 inches. In order to figure out how to mark my circle I needed the radius of the neck opening. For those of you who have forgotten your geometry, radius = circumference/3.14. So with a 30” circumference my radius was 4.77 inches. The radius for your hem circle is as wide as your fabric will allow, which for me is 29”.

On the Half Circle Blouse I made the opening for the neck on the side, so the neck and the armhole made it large enough to go over my head. I wanted something different for this one so after the circle is cut I will cut the circle straight up the back and insert a 7 or 9 inch zipper up through the neckband.

I fold the circle in half and match the armholes so I can cut a seam in the back. From here I can draft the armholes using a cup to round them. Face them with single-fold bias tape. I picked a cute calico, no more boring bias tape for me, and whipped up some bias tape for the facings and hem.

IMG_0554I decided to do a little experimenting with this one for more shoulder coverage. Since I had plenty of fabric in the circle to work with, I shaped the armholes a little before I faced them and brought the first 5 inches or so down on the shoulder. I sewed a shoulder seam, hoping to catch the upper edge into the neck band and only gather the neck at the front and back. Let’s see if this works. I did this because on the half circle I really didn’t like that it required a strapless bra because it showed so much shoulder.

Next I insert the zipper into the back. I don’t have an invisible zipper foot so I used my regular zipper foot and put it in all the way up to the neck and finished the seam. I finished the raw edges on the serger. This part was so frustrating and looks so messy I won’t even take a picture. After many tries I kind of gave up and took solace in the fact I will wear a sweater most of the time in this outfit. The fabric was just too slippery and I broke 3 needles trying to get it to work. So what did I do? Whip out the trusty iPad, get on Pinterest, and find a solution. After looking at a few solutions, the quickest one was to use was placing tissue below my slippery fabric to give the feed dogs something to grip and keep the fabric from getting pushed down. It worked perfectly! Yes I had to pull paper off all the time and kept putting more pieces under my work but so worth it as to not have a ratty hem and get the zipper finished. All I can think is how much I could have learned and learned faster if I had had Pinterest 10 years ago!

IMG_0574All that is left is the hem which I faced with the rest of the custom bias tape. It was interesting because it gave it a little stiffer quality and support to the hem than when the fabric hung without it. You can see that the hem kind of sticks out more like a peplum and you can see some of the facing. I love it. If you want it to lay down more and not have that contrast peeking out then do a rolled hem.

I also made a bias cut belt but don’t think it was great. It was wavy and did not come out great but it’s useable. I also can wear it with a regular belt.


In hindsight, the half circle blouse on 45 inch fabric produces a longer hem than the full circle on the 58 inch fabric. So if you want more rear coverage, go with the half circle. The full circle does not really produce more fabric around the body or this fabric was too soft to make much difference or once I spread out the shoulders it wasn’t enough. Now I am thinking what about a half circle on 60 inch fabric? That might make a mini dress or longer tunic for leggings. Anyone ready to experiment?