Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 6: Summary of Lessons Learned


Wow, what an extensive project this was. It took a lot of time and a lot of trial and error to finally draft and fit a basic block pattern for myself. Once I got them all where I liked them I traced them on to poster board for durability. For the most part they will be traced on to paper and then altered to get the ease needed for the fabric.

The best bodice directions were: Suzy Furrer class in Craftsy

The best sleeve directions were: Madalynne

The best skirt directions were: Laura After Midnight

The best pant directions were: Burda Style

I am so excited to try and start drafting my own patterns!  I still have a few more blocks to make.  Suzy Furrer had several basic pant slopers she recommends and several sleeve slopers.  The thing with sleeves is they draft from the bodice so they probably have to be drafted every time.

If you read my post on the cowl blouse, then you probably saw my first pattern draft attempt.  My next step is to draft a knit pencil skirt.  Then I have a dress in mind I want to try.

Pyramid Dress Pattern

I have been eye balling this pattern for over a year and I finally got it for Christmas. It is the Center for Pattern Design’s Pyramid Dress, which I had seen in a Threads magazine article.   I loved it but was reluctant in my ability to work with bias cut fabric and afraid to spend $28 on a pattern that I was going to mess up. I kept looking for the perfect fabric and finally found some I think will work. My husband bought me the pattern for Christmas and I am ready to go.

I chose Vogue Fabrics Linaire in Sand. It has a nice loose weave that should collapse nicely on the bias. It is a polyester that is washable. I like most fabrics that come in contact with the skin to be washable, leaving the dry clean only fabrics to the jackets. This pattern went together pretty easily. I serged the edges of the fabric to prevent raveling.  The instructions were relatively simplistic and written for someone with experience. It did not have pictures for the steps as some others do. For someone who is visual like me, it can make it harder to not have a visual cue. It is also a good pattern to practice putting sleeve gussets in. The dress ended up being pretty long on me but that’s okay. If I make another one I can always shorten the square.

To go with my dress I made a slip of stretch charmuese with a pattern from Lekala. I haven’t worn a slip in years and didn’t own one. Since my fabric tended to be see-through I wanted a little extra layer. I made it out of a bright contrasting color so it could be seen at the neckline. This company has a ton of nice patterns but I have never bought a custom pattern that I had to piece together before. It is pretty easy to order the custom pattern online but I had some problems with the email delivery. Despite the problems with getting a confirmation number and the emailed pattern, the company was very responsive, found my order and resent it.

IMG_0815The pattern seems to have worked out well. It is like the pyramid dress pattern in that the instructions are simple and without pictures. Good for experienced sewers or people that are good at visualizing how to put things together.  I did not like and could not figure out how to put together the straps they had so I used some nice ribbon that I had instead.  It won’t be seen much any way. I bought another pattern from them as well that I hope to complete.



Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 2.5: the Skirt Muslin

So here is the Allspice Abounds skirt sloper. As you can see it doesn’t fit that well in the front or over the rear. A skirt must fit over the rear correctly or you won’t have a good hemline. This one came out so-so, probably because I did not have the full instructions.

Next was the LauraAfterMidnight version. Much better! I like the way it hangs flat in the front and smoothly over the rear. Somehow it ended up a little short on the waist and too big in the hips but those are easy alterations.

Here’s LauraAfterMidnight after a little alterations. I really like the placement of the front darts. They are placed a little farther apart than usual. The skirt fit my hip well that way.   I think I found my skirt sloper!


Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 2: the Skirt

So drafting the skirt was WAY easier than the bodice. I should have started there. Most of the blogs and skirt drafting were very similar so I ended up doing two that had different dart placements.

The first was Lauraaftermidnight’s Blog. Hers is based on a drafting book called Metric Pattern Cutting by Winfred Aldrich. I have seen many posts on this book so it seems to be a favorite among pattern drafters. Might be time to buy it. So I whipped up a skirt sloper just by following the pictures.


Next I found a drawing of a dart variation on Allspice Abounds’ Blog.   There were no instructions but based on the picture and the instructions on the other blog I could make an approximation in my measurements. Hers is based on the Handford drafting book. It is probably a good book but a bit pricey at over $100.


I just guessed at the length because first through the hips is what matters in a skirt.  You can adjust from flare to pencil and vary the length as you want.  So these were pretty easy. Let’s see how they fit when translated to muslins.

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?

Designers I Love!

The more I sew the more I become interested in design and different designers. Now when I see stuff I like I look for more from those designers. Since I am not a big gambler I had time to kill while in Las Vegas. So I shopped for ideas since I couldn’t afford the clothes but those are free! I found one such place in the shops at Caesar’s Forum, Elie Tahari. She had a lot of interesting dresses and vests that were made out of neoprene and reversible. But as I look at the site I think that was last year. Still interesting. Next year’s (2016) shows a lot more lace and primarily white and black.

ELi Tahari

I also have gotten into the show Project Runway. I don’t know why I have never watched this! Maybe it was because I thought it was too much runway looks and unconventional design but I was so wrong. There is a lot of ready to wear inspiration to be had. I saw several things I would buy this season (Season 14).

I can’t decide who I’m hoping will win Season 14 of Runway. I like Swapnil for high fashion style.


But I also like Edmond Newton’s work.

Edmond Newton

I think my overall favorite is going to be Candice Cuoco.