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.

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