The Importance of a Sloper: Guest Post from Maddie Flannigan

Maddie Flannigan Madalynne Blog Photograph Portrait
Get excited guys, as today, I will be sharing ThreadBEAR’s first EVER guest post from none other than Maddie Flanigan from Madalynne – super pattern maker extraordinaire! In this post, you will hear all about what a sloper is and how important it is to making clothing that fits you perfectly, and then you can find out how to make your very own sloper.
Let’s go!
Madalynne Blog Logo
Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne, the cool sewing and pattern making blog. If Steve McQueen was the “King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” My blog covers everything from how to draft a sloper to interviews with independent pattern makers/designers and what projects I’m working on. For the past two and a half years, my day job has been in the technical design department for a very large fashion company in Philadelphia. A couple of months ago, this company took note of my personal blog and asked me to start an Intranet blog that would create a cohesive voice for all their brands. Cool, right? I consider myself one lucky gal to be able to do what I love both day and night (blog and sew), not to mention I receive a stellar discount off some really fancy clothes.

But enough about me, let’s talk patterns!

I cannot express the importance of a block. A block, or sloper, is a basic bodice, sleeve, skirt, pant, or dress pattern made to fit a particular individual, size, or mannequin exactly and perfectly. It has minimal darts and is usually sewn with muslin or some other light-weight cotton fabric. From this pattern, all other patterns can be drafted by slashing and opening, slashing and spreading, slashing and overlapping, or other pattern manipulation technique (unless the design requires draping, in which case the pattern is made by draping and then trueing). Every time I begin a new design (like my dress, click here to see), I start with my block. As I work through the project, I continually refer back to my block to check my shapes and specs/measurements (i.e. I compare the armhole and sleeve cap shape, waist placement, etc. on my project with that on my block).

what is a sloper

The process of developing a sloper begins by using your measurements and tried-and-true drafting methods (like I did here) to draft a pattern. Extra care MUST be given when taking your measurements as ninety nine percent of the time, the questions I receive on drafting a sloper are fixed by remeasuring a particular measurement. With that said, the best way to achieve the most accurate measurements is to have a friend, neighbor, or anyone measure you while wearing tight fitting clothes or your under-wears. Yes, it is possible to measure yourself but it is also very hard to do so.

Next, the pattern is cut out in a muslin or lightweight cotton and the first fit is sewn. When fitting the first fit, pin out and slash and open however you have to in order to eliminate all drag lines. Once all drag lines are eliminate, it is now time to true the pattern. When truing the first fit, this is when I encourage you to throw away the rules and to follow your body. Follow your pins and you slashes and don’t worry about what an armhole or neckline “should” look like. Everybody’s body curves differently – no tried-and-true method can replicate it. It’s okay to stick to the tried-and-true drafting methods in order to get the first fit but after that point, you have to follow your body. Once the first fit pattern is trued, cut out another muslin and sew the second fit. Repeat the fitting and truing process until you achieve an absolutely, positively, one hundred percent perfect fit. My sloper took five fits in order to achieve perfection. It was a lot of time (an entire summer) and some frustration but the help that my block has given me for all my designs made the hard work completely worth it.


Wasn’t that awesome? I bet you wanna make your own sloper now, right?! Well, Maddie has some awesome instructions on her blog on exactly how to draft a front and back bodice sloper, and how to true a sloper. Make sure you go and check them out!


One response to “The Importance of a Sloper: Guest Post from Maddie Flannigan

  1. Pingback: ThreadBEAR | streetstylewales·

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