Thursday, February 4, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Cindy, Julia, CarlaF, Gwen, Ivalyn, Shannon, Elaina, Becky and an annonymous commenter for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I've never made a sloper.

I was half expecting the same kind of response that I got on pressing seams - a landslide in the "you must do it!" camp. But apparently slopers aren't as popular with this crowd as they might like to think they are... ;)

Cindy gave a nice definition of a sloper - it is a simple, no-frills pattern for any type of garment made to fit certain measurements, that is used as the basis for constructing a wide variety of patterns (that will fit the same person) with different styles. She explained how the different pattern companies (Simplicity, Vogue, Burda, etc.) each work from a different set of slopers, which is why you might find that one company's patterns fit you well "out of the box", while you have to tweak patterns from another company to get a good fit.

Reading between the lines (which sometimes gets me in trouble!), it sounds like people make their own personalized slopers mainly for one of two reasons - either they plan to use them to draft their own patterns from scratch or they plan to use them to improve the fit of commercial patterns.

About six people fell in the "not a huge fan" category. A couple of those (like me) have never actually made a sloper, and Becky has made one, but hasn't had the chance to use it yet. The other three have all made slopers in the past, but currently don't use them.

The main reasons people gave for not using slopers in their sewing routine included:
(a) using commercial patterns, rather than drafting patterns from scratch,
(b) generally not having fitting issues with commercial patterns, and
(c) mostly sewing for children and/or with knits - cases when fitting isn't as challenging.

People also proposed alternatives to formal slopers. Shannon has a favorite t-shirt pattern (made years ago by tracing a t-shirt) that she now uses to adjust new patterns, in lieu of a made-from-scratch sloper. Gwen makes a muslin before applying any new pattern to fashion fabric. And Elaina drafts her own patterns straight from her body measurements, as shown one of her favorite books, Dorothy Moore's classic, "Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking" (pictured above, courtesy of

It wasn't all one-sided, however. There were two strong yes votes for slopers. Ivalyn made a sloper to use with her Wild Ginger software. She lets the computer do all the adjusting of the pattern pieces to fit her measurements perfectly. And our final commenter has significant fitting issues with commercial patterns, so she paid a local seamstress to measure her and create a sloper for her, and she now uses that sloper to draft her own patterns from scratch. Both very cool and smart ideas!

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to answer! You really make this series fun and informative! :)


sewducky said...

As a matter of fact, I own that book and use it more then any college book I own for it.

I combine it with a book from 1915 and one from the 40s, which is how I leaned my method of drafting (more so then the slopers).

I don't want to commercialize, so slopers are a waste of time for me. I just want to make clothing to fit my own body, and occasionally, those of the few people I do sew for.

julia said...

Very interesting again. I love your questions and the summary of everyone's answers each week. Thanks for going to the trouble to do this!!

Shannon Hillinger said...

It's actually a tshirt pattern I made myself years ago, not a commercial one. If I remember correctly, I traced a shirt I had and made a few alterations to the fit, so it isn't 'true' sloper.