Backlog: Slopers

The flat-pattern method of designing clothes necessitates starting with a set of basic pattern shapes called slopers.  If you draft these, and then cut and sew them, you have what looks like a shell (a bodice), a sleeve, and a skirt.  Typically, these are sewn in plain, undyed muslin and lack fasteners and finished seams.  

Slopers serve as templates of your best fit.  Future designs of specific garments start here; using them establishes crucial aspects of shape, such as armholes, waist circumference or torso length.  Darts, pleats, tucks, or fullness are employed to transform the basic sloper shape into a new design, such as a bias-cut gown, A-line dress, wide-leg trousers, or a two-piece swimsuit.

I had the opportunity to learn the foundation of this method several years ago, while completing an apparel technologies diploma.  Through the first semester of my coursework, we developed a set of personal fit slopers.  I used them occasionally here and there at the time, and then some years went by, and also a baby happened.  Recently, it occurred to me that the old slopers may no longer fit as they once did.  

Additionally, I was interested in reviewing what I had learned in my coursework.  I always appreciate opportunities to review old learning when I am no longer in a classroom setting.  It makes me realize how strange school is, in some ways.  Students are asked to absorb so much information, so quickly, that it is a wonder we emerge from school with real skills.  

So in recent months, I embarked on a project  of creating an updated set of slopers from scratch.  It was completely worth doing, although painful at times.  My measurements had definitely changed, but more importantly, I was able to review concepts and also gain deeper a understanding of the process than I had the first time I made them.  I now have the building blocks to make new patterns that will fit me, along with a fresh perspective on the drafting process.