Sunday, October 11, 2009

Drafting a new pattern from a sloper...

... is a LOT faster than taking a commercial pattern and then doing all the adjustments in the world to make it fit your own non-standard measurements. For me, those adjustments are usually: full bust, square shoulder, forward shoulder, erect back, sway back, let out waist, take in hip, omgmybrainisabouttoexplode! Such is the reason for my investing time in making a basic dress sloper a while back. Once you have a sloper that fits, redrawing the pattern lines to make a new design is a breeze!

On this post, I'll show how I drafted the colorblock dress pattern from the sloper (by way of illustration, because I forgot to take pictures). This is a very basic, amateur pattern-drafting tutorial though, so take it for what it's worth. :D

  • Trace a new sloper, so the original sloper remains intact.

  • Decide the width of the band. I think a 2-inch band is good - substantial yet not obnoxiously so.
  • The bodice sloper usually have a jewel neckline, and I want to open it up a bit lot. To lower it, I measure 3-inches down from the top of center-front (point a). You can go lower if cleavage is your thing. Width-wise, I go as far out as possible at the shoulder (point b). Then, I mark the 2-inch width band at points c and d.

  • Now, connect point a to d, and point c to b, while at the same time creating the shape of your neckline. In this case, I choose a scoop.
  • I open up the armhole so I can show off more armpit fat. So, I make a point e and connect the armhole to it.

  • Cut along the new lines (the dashed line), then use the same principle for the back bodice, and we shall have the pattern pieces like these:

Okay... so I don't know how to fix the picture layout, but you get the idea what I'm trying to show here.

An important note on the bodice back: be sure to be consistent in the measurement of the shoulder width. I picked the farthest point on front-bodice-shoulder, and do the same for back-bodice-shoulder. If you choose, say, 1-inch inside the shoulder point, make sure you do both for the front AND the back, so band doesn't get all wonky when attached.

  • Again, the first step is to make a duplicate sloper, so the original doesn't get ruined.

  • The design calls for an A-line skirt, but you have a straight-skirt sloper. Out of the many ways to make an A-line skirt, I choose what I think is the easiest. Basically, I want to "move" the dart from the waist to the hem.
  • So, draw a straight line down the dart, all the way to the hem.

  • Cut the line, and shift the paper so the original dart is closed. So now the dart is transferred to the hem, and fill it in with paper. If necessary, re-draw the hemline to smooth out the joined lines. We have an A-line skirt! Well, the front, that is.
  • To make the waist band, mark the center-front and side from the waist (I also use 2 inches for the waist band).
  • Cut out the waistband pattern (the dashed line), repeat the same principle for the back skirt, and we'll have something like this:

And now, my esteemed reader(s), we have just drafted your own pattern!

P.S. Don't forget to add seam allowances!


  1. This is so useful! Can't wait to try this, thank you!

  2. Very instructive post! Isn't it fun to draft patterns, I can't wait to make some myself... (I haven't finished anything I've drafted from my basic blocks for a long time though!).

  3. Yes, I suppose drafting your own simple sloper is easier. I also need to make tons of adjustments for each commerical pattern, and never seem to get it quite right, but my own slopers are not as perfect either. I suppose I should get a new one. Will have a look into Dorothy Moore's book if I can find it. And wow, you even have a cutting mat. I'm very impressed!

  4. Would you happen to know where I should look to find more instructions for changing a sloper for different designs?