The basic dress sloper: measurements and equipment
Since our Joan dress is based on the ultimate basic off all dresses (the sheath dress) I thought I would redraft my own dress sloper and make a little tutorial for you in the process of doing so.
What is a sloper or block?This is a standard pattern from witch other patterns can be determined. It is drawn from your own measurements and ensures a good fit. Testing this pattern out with a muslin is however always a good idea, to get the fit just right. When you have perfected your own sloper or block you can reuse it again and again to draw different patterns. The time needed to draw this block will be well spent since it makes the process a lot easier from then on.
|Slopers are also available as patterns from all the major pattern companies.|
This saves you the trouble of drawing one but does require a lot more fitting afterwards.
Equipment you will need:A large piece of pattern paper (at least as long as your height till knee size)
a tape measure
a set square to make right angles.
a French curve (this is not really necessary but will enable anyone to draw a nice curve)
your own measurements
MeasurementsIf you want to do any serious pattern drafting you will have to get a set of your correct body measurements. It is best to not do this on your own, since you will be moving your body in the process of trying to get a measurement and by doing so, you will get an inaccurate measurement. Ask someone to help you out and get a set of measurements based on the pictures I will post here. Keep and treasure these, since you do not want to take your measurements every five minutes (witch I inevitably end up doing).
You will also have to be honest about your own measurements. Its often all to tempting to add or subtract some cm to our measurements, wishing for that look we can never quite achieve. Do not do this. You can undoubtedly see this will lead to poor fit and might even cause the pattern not to fit at all. It's so much more flattering for our figure when we wear clothes that actually fit us, you will experience this when you wear your clothes. Having baggy loose parts where you magically wished your breasts to be bigger will not look good, neither will it be flattering to have a super tight, almost burst out of the seams, waist if your waist is not as small as you measured it to be. Wearing a pattern that actually fits you will make a ton of difference. Combine this with a basic knowledge of pattern drafting and the knowledge of what silhouettes will flatter your body type and you will never look at clothing the same way again. Want something to look bigger? Add some flounce to it. Want other parts to look smaller? Do not force them to be small but let them appear smaller. You cannot change your body type, but you can change the way you body looks.
The numbers are nothing to be afraid of, you write them down and then never tell anyone about them. Ready to wear sizing is different from brand to brand, country to country. Clothing made from patterns you buy or draft will also be based on different measurement systems. I know that there is a mental threshold for a lot of us, desperately (not) wanting to be a certain size. The truth of it is, we are rarely one straight size all over anyway. We are smaller or longer than the standard body measurement, or are larger on top than in the bottom, or somethimes the other way around. That is why making your own pattern or adjusting your own pattern is so crucial to get the fit just right.
Taking measurementsStand up straight and face forward. Try to wear as little as possible or just items of clothing you will be wearing underneath your finished clothing. Let someone else do the measuring, believe me you will get a more accurate fit and be left with no sprained limbs.
You will not need all of these measurements to draft the basic sloper block, the measurements included here are however frequently used as well. I will mark all measurements that are not strictly needed for the next tutorial with an exclamation mark after the title.
Bust, waist and hips
Measure around the fullest part of your bust for the bust size. Make sure that the measurement sits straight all the way around you. (It should not be lower at the back). Mark this line for future reference with a piece of string. In thin example the bust line is the highest white string. It should run parallel with the measurements of the waist and hip.
The waist measurement is the circumference of smallest part of your body. It's usually around 2 cm above your belly button. Mark this point with a string as well. If you bend sideways the string should not move up or down. If this is the case you have found your natural waist.
For the hip measurement you have to measure the fullest part of your hips and bottom. Remember that standing with legs together or apart will have an influence on this measurement. It's best to stand straight and relaxed with legs together. Mark this point as well.
Nape to waist!
Waist to hip
Bust back to waist!
Below arms height
Also called height of the arm. Height measured from a ruler held under the arm to the waist. Stick a ruler underneath your arm and hold tight, squeezing your arm a bit. Let your partner measure down.
This is the measurement from the highest point of your one breast to the highest point of your other breast. usually boils down to the measurement from nipple to nipple.
Bust point to waist
Measurement from the highest point of the breast down to the waist. So again for most women from the nipple to the waist down in a straight line. Remember that you will be measuring this with a bra most of the time, since you will be wearing bra's most of the time underneath the garments you construct. Just for clarity's sake: you only have to measure until waist length. The middle circumference you marked.
Measurement from an imaginary line parallel to your collarbone to the highest point of the shoulder . The one you marked earlier. (You can see the pin where I marked this point on my sewing dummy)
Over bust length
Measurement from the highest point of the shoulder (next to the neck, again the one you marked) to the waist, passing over the fullest part of the bust.
Measurement from the highest point of the shoulder to the waist at the back, passing over the shoulder blades.
This is the circumference of the body just below the bust, on top of the ribcage. This circumference subtracted from the bust circumference is used to determine cup sizes in bra's. The more difference there is in these two measurements the higher your cup size will be.
This measurement sits around the hip nine cm below the waist. Other sources place it halfway between waist and hip. I will be using the nine cm version, or indicating otherwise. It goes over the hip points. (those knobbly protruding bony things) and is approximately the height at witch most pants end nowadays. If you use two hip measurements the sloper will become a lot more accurate and it will follow your curves more nicely.