Posted in Couture Sewing, sewing

My quest for the perfectly fitting bodice sloper (block) continues!

You know how there are times when someone says something and it sticks with you while everything else just seems to slip away? Well, the instructor I’m following on the Craftsy online platform’s “Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper” class said something that stuck with me – only now it seems that for me it’s not true.suzys class

After she had finished showing us how to draft our personal sloper from our perfectly fitting moulage, she said that she usually doesn’t even make mock-up muslin of the sloper since she knows that if the moulage fits perfectly, then the sloper will as well.

I hung onto that thought as I worked through her drafting instructions, and when I had finished the sloper pattern, I looked at it and thought, “You had better sew one up just to see.” So, that’s what I did. I was so certain that it would be right that I picked a blue sateen fabric rather than muslin then cut it out and made it up with front and back vents, an invisible zipper and bias-finished armholes and neckline. I had some silly notion that I might actually be able to wear it. Well, that didn’t go so well.

When I tried on the blue-sateen fit garment, it most certainly was not simply my moulage with wearing ease – a term I have now learned to differentiate from design ease.[1] And it was clearly not a garment that I would wear in public! It had ease galore in the high hip (an odd bit of excess curvature), but worse, it now had those upper body wrinkles again that I had worked so hard to get rid of (successfully) in the moulage. Good lord! What a mess.

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OMG! Just look at those wrinkles! If I used a sloper like this, every single piece I design in future will look the same!

 

I figured that I knew how to fix the hip issue, but the cross front issue was tricky. So, I posted photos – as embarrassing as they were – in a question to Suzy Furrer the instructor, crossed my fingers that it might be an easy fix, and waited, hoping for the best.

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Suzy’s very articulate and helpful response.

She did seem a bit perplexed herself, but suggested that I unpick the shoulders, try it on again and see if redoing them on a different angle might help. I sighed, looked at my overly optimistically applied bias binding (and finished seam allowances no less) and started clipping and unpicking. When I tried the thing on again, and asked my trusty assistant (my husband) to clip the shoulder seams together for me, it was clear that we had a problem. At the end of shoulder there was a one-half inch gape that when pinned in place showed the need for a significant change in the shoulder slope.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I buy clothes, especially tailored tops and jackets my preferred style, I often find that they don’t fit as well as I’d like across the shoulders. I’ve noticed through my life that although I have very good posture (40 years of yoga will do that!), but my shoulders themselves are sloped. It made perfect sense that any bodice block I’d create would have to emulate that. What I couldn’t figure out is why the moulage seemed to fit so well. But it does occur to me now that as you move through the drafting process there are many opportunities for error even though you may try hard to be precise and accurate.

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This is how much more sloped I had to make the shoulder!

 

Anyway, I set to work completely redrafting the sloper with the shoulder change, but I knew that this alone would give me another problem: If I lowered the shoulder without doing anything to the under arm, and thus the bust line which in the case of a sloper follows the underarm, I would have a serious armhole problem. So, I lowered the armhole and consequently the bust line a half-inch as well.

I now have a new sloper draft and have copied it and cut it into a new pattern. Later today I’ll cut it out and sew it together – in cheap muslin! Geesh, I hope it fits this time. I’m dying to get on with a bit of dart manipulation on the next leg of the journey to designing a few pieces from scratch.

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Sloper #2 pattern ready to try out!

 

 

[1] Craftsy has a really good blog post on the different kinds of ease at https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/04/ease-in-sewing/

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10 thoughts on “My quest for the perfectly fitting bodice sloper (block) continues!

  1. That is exactly the problem I had, including the extra curving fabric at the hip. The slope of my shoulder was off, as well as the high neck point.PArt of my “12” (slight, but very slight exaggeration) sloper draft was due to the difficulty in getting the correct shoulder slope, and finding the correct high neck points. In fact, I still lack confidence in the neck and shoulder area, and give myself extra seam all and bast the areas. Taking a break from the exercises to visit our new granddaughter.

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    1. Congratulations on the new granddaughter! Oh, the shoulder issues! I will put together the new sloper I just cut out, and with some trepidation try it on. Even Suzy didn’t really have a definitive answer for the problem (and she is a genius in these subjects!), but maybe this is it. We’ll see. I also always baste these areas first and make adjustments as I go but wouldn’t it be nice to have confidence enough in a pattern to just sew with abandon! Cheers! ~GG/PP

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  2. You successfully developed a custom dress form recently. How did the 1st sloper pattern fit on the dress form? I’m just now working on my custom dress form with high expectations that it will resolve much of the fitting drudgery and I would love to hear that your first sloper pattern fit the dress form as wrinkly as it did on your body. Love your posts.

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    1. OMG Yvonne: Why didn’t I think of that? When I finished the sloper I promptly threw it on myself. After your comment, I repinned the shoulders to where they were when I initially sewed them (before unpicking them) and popped it on Gloria junior. What a terrific way to see if, in fact, my moulage/dress form is accurate. I was a bit panicky as I did up the zipper, but — happily or unhappily as the case may be — the sloper fit her exactly as it fit me. The good news now is that I can actually use Gloria junior to resolve my own “fitting drudgery” issues as you so aptly put it. Thank-you so much for your comments — and question!

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      1. I’m convinced it takes a village to sew. And I’m glad we have Suzy Furrer in our village. I’m going to review your custom dress form post to begin on mine. Thank you very much for the information

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  3. Just from the photo it looks like the shoulder slope angle might be the problem. It’s difficult to tell but the neckline looks too high and tight. Is your bias bound neck edge pulled too tight? If the moulage fit perfectly then the sloper should also. Hope you find the fix.

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  4. Just looked at your pattern a little closer. I think your front neckline is too steep in the curve upwards to the shoulder. Try going out a little more horizontally from the center front, then curving upwards to the shoulder.

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    1. Hi Mary: I’m so grateful for your feedback. I do think that the bias binding might be the problem. On this second one, I certainly will not do that! And that neckline — it does look a bit too steep to me. Here’s what I’m wondering about it: If I go horizontally from the front, will I have to move the high neck point out to make that curve less steep? As I made my way through the initial moulage process, there were several “mandatory” shoulder adjustments that in retrospect, probably didn’t work for me. Maybe this is the problem? Or one of them?

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      1. You shouldn’t have to move the high neck point out. It looks to me like just scooping out a little fabric at the front neck might relieve some of the pulling. I also noticed that your pattern shows the shoulder line dipping at the midpoint and then peaking up at the armhole edge. Try getting a straight line on both the front and back pattern pieces and retrying the fit. I would do a fit test before adding neck or armhole binding to eliminate that as a possible problem. Good luck with it. I’ve used Suzy’s method for multiple figures with vastly different shapes. The first draft comes very close to a perfect fit but a little tweaking is usually necessary.

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      2. Thanks, Mary! I have started from scratch, beginning my sloper from the beginning incorporating feedback. I’ll post next week to let you know how it worked out (and I am taking your advice to do only a toile before any finishing which I will not do at all on this one!).

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