The Sloper is Your Secret Weapon for Making Any Pattern Fit

You love browsing, buying and using patterns. But making patterns — isn't that a job for the pros? Actually, there is one kind of pattern than any home sewer can, and definitely should, make. It’s called a sloper. And, no, it has nothing to do with ski wear.

A sloper is basically a generic pattern based on your measurements — no wiggle room, no seam allowances, no style. Slopers are the building blocks of all patterns . Like stem cells, they're the beginning of everything. Having your own sloper is a powerful fitting tool you can use with any existing pattern. And not only do slopers help you sew clothes, they help you design them, too.

Significance of the Sloper

Like all patterns, a sloper is a 2D version of a 3D form. It represents the basic measurements of your body, almost like a second skin. A bodice sloper , for example, shows the length, width and shape of your torso, as well as the bust points and length of darts. It’s not meant to be a garment, though, so movement or seams aren't factored in.

You can use a bodice sloper as the basis for creating a pattern for a top or jacket. Or you can combine it with a skirt sloper (a fabric form of your waist, hips and thighs) to make a dress. A pants sloper is, yup, the basis for any kind of pants pattern.

Commercial pattern producers use slopers that fit the “average” or “ideal” body shape, which explains why we all have to do so much finagling to make a store-bought pattern fit just right.

How to Make Your Own Sloper

You can buy a sloper kit from any major pattern company. Or you can follow this tutorial to draft your own sloper from scratch .

Once you try on your sloper and perfect the fit, you’ll have a tangible record of what works on your body. You can then use the sloper to customize any pattern without needing to get out your tape measure (imagine!). Barring any major weight changes, you only to have to make a sloper once.

Equally awesome? You can play around with your sloper to create your own simple clothing designs. Once you have a skirt sloper, for example, you can make a sewing pattern for a skirt, adding room for movement, flare, pockets and seam allowances. No searching for just the right pattern. And no fussing with fit.

Next stop: Project Runway!

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