A couple of years ago, I embarked on a journey to learn how to draft and create a bodice sloper―or block if you prefer―based on the flat pattern method. I wanted to have this template to use to design my own patterns. I learned a lot through the Craftsy course I took with Suzy Furer, an excellent on-screen teacher. I was happy with it and used it, but I was never satisfied with the fit of armscyes. So, this year, in preparation for some new designs, I decided to take a different approach and create a new sloper (after all, a few years and COVID have happened. Could it be that I might not be precisely the same shape?). The different approach I chose was to use Vogue‘s pattern block.
Before I get to that, though, just to be clear in case you’ve forgotten: a sloper (or block) is a foundation pattern created as a perfect fit for one specific body from which more complicated patterns can be designed.
Have you ever used this one? Vogue isn’t the only pattern company that offers these, but I like Vogue patterns, and it seemed to be what I was looking for.
It’s Vogue pattern #1004. I had always wondered about this dress “shell” pattern. Now it was time to see what it could offer me.
The first thing I notice is that there are twelve pages of instructions. Most of these are not instructions on how to put the thing together. They are primarily instructions for fixing the various fit problems that will inevitably plague you as you go along. After all, the whole purpose of this exercise is to have a template the fits to perfection. You can then use it to design, but even more useful in my estimation is that you can use it to alter commercial patterns.
One of the pieces of information on the instructions that I found particularly useful is the illustrated guide to varying degrees of ease added to fashion patterns to create a variety of silhouettes. This illustration will be handy for me as I develop those new patterns.
I washed and dried my muslin to soften it, then cut out the pattern roughly, leaving generous seamlines. I didn’t need to cut along the cut lines anyway since I would be marking the seam lines, which is more accurate in any case.
I used my large waxed sheets of marking paper that I bought on Susan Khalje’s website a few years ago. I don’t’ know why, but I love this part of the process. Well, that’s just the nerd in me coming out!
After the wax marking, I thread-traced so that I’d have most of the markings on both sides. Doing this makes putting it together so much easier and more accurate.
This shell has a waist seam as well as double darts at the waistline. I think this is complicated in a sloper. Since I didn’t want that seam line at the waist, and I wanted single darts, I had to make some adjustments. I made the first one at the pattern stage by omitting one of the waistline darts and adjusting the pattern at the sides. I knew I’d have to make some other changes (such as moving the darts) after putting it together for the first time. That’s why I sewed it together with the longest stitch my machine makes. There was a lot of picking out and resewing. I was prepared for this because that’s how these things go.
When I finally got the fit I liked, I had to adjust for removing the waistline seam, then was ready to cut apart the muslin and trace it out onto paper for final adjustments.
The last step was to transfer it to Bristol board, notch the darts and other important seam thingies, and awl punch the holes in the darts. All of this is so that it’s easier to trace it off onto paper whenever I want to make a new pattern.
All in all, I’m happy with the final product. Let’s see now how it works for my flat pattern-making for the summer!