- make alterations for a better fit
- add or remove pockets, zips etc.. or change features such as waistband style
- merge two or more of your favourite patterns
- upcycle much-loved garments
- make your own designs
then learning how to make your own pattern slopers will really empower you.
All designers, high street or boutique, start their garments with industry standard slopers or pattern blocks. There are blocks/slopers for each element of dressmaking, skirts, dresses, tops, sleeves, trousers, even underwear!
Slopers or blocks look just like regular pattern pieces, but instead of popping out of an envelope ready to use, they are created by taking a person’s measurements and applying a set of rules to create the pattern pieces.
A pattern maker will take, say a skirt block, and will then start to play, adding or taking away length and width, adding pocket details, waistbands, lining, fasteners etc… The finished garment will often look nothing like the original sloper but without the sloper much of the design process would be guess work/trial and error – a more stressful and costly process than need be if a sloper was used.
If you plan on making your finished pattern in a range of sizes this really is impossible without a sloper as changes in sloper size tell you how much your pattern needs to grow or shrink by for each size and in each direction.
If you are a home sewer with no aspirations to create your own patterns you may feel this is a step too far and that you would prefer to buy ready-made patterns and let someone else do this work for you. But we would urge you to reconsider.
Making your own pattern sloper or block is a really empowering thing to do for two main reasons:
- Once you have made a sloper or block you can use this to create a large range of ‘standard’ garments that really do fit you properly – in the case of a skirt, once you have the sloper finished, you simply follow a set of detailed instructions to turn that sloper into a pencil, a line, circle or panelled skirt etc…
- When you make a garment using a sloper you learn a lot about what different elements of a garment do – what is ease, where darts should be and whether you can risk moving them, how easy it is to change a waistband and what making a change will mean for the other pattern pieces.
Some people never go back to using commercial patterns after making a sloper, others use the knowledge they have gained from the process to amend commercial patterns to suit their shape or style, either way, learning how to make a garment using a sloper can only be a positive and empowering thing!
Join us on our Pattern Making Basics – Making a Skirt Without a Pattern course. We will make a sloper on paper and then sew a practice piece to check for fit, make any alterations to your pattern piece and then use this to make a skirt pattern in a style of your choice – you can then choose to take your pattern home to make up or join us for a third week to get your skirt started – click here for further details!
If you are not local and can’t find a class near you, consider using Youtube, take up a Craftsy course to help you get started, or go it alone with a text book – we recommend using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting books – she has ones for women’s clothing, men’s and children.
They aren’t cheap, but if you look around you can often pick up a copy second hand, and if you consider how many patterns you can create from the one book they are incredibly good value!