My Bodice Sloper

I really enjoyed reading the comments from my post on my skirt sloper and I thought it would be fun to post about the other slopers I’ve made. This is my bodice sloper drafted to the low hip.

This is the front of my bodice sloper. The sloper is notched at the high hip, waist, bust, armhole, and cross front. I’ve marked the four darts (shoulder, armhole, bust, and waist) and their apices (the high and low figure point). I can choose which figure point to use as the pivotal point when manipulating the darts. You’ll notice a (faint) circle around the dart apices. This represents my bust and is used when drafting necklines. If a lowered neckline meets or goes beyond the top of this circle, I can add a neckline dart to prevent gaping.

You’ll notice that at the waist there is 1/2″ shaping which extends to the waist dart and then tapered to zero at the side. This can be taken out at the neck and shoulder during the drafting process, with princess seams, or with a seam at the waistline.

On all my slopers, I’ve written in the key measurements used for reference while drafting. For my bodice slopers, I’ve also included a neckline chart which helps me to draft wide necklines that don’t gape at the center front.

The back sloper has a shoulder dart, waist dart, and waist shaping like the front. In addition, it also includes awl punches for optional back contouring. The back contouring is taken at the waist and then tapered to the high hip and the cross back. This contouring helps to accommodate the natural curve along the spine. If I choose to take this out, I need to adjust the waist dart so that the waist measurement remains the same.

That’s my bodice sloper! Do you use a bodice sloper? I love seeing and reading about different drafting approaches and would love to hear how your sloper differs. I’ll post next week about the bodice sloper I drafted recently for knits – I’m using it for a surprise project that I can’t wait to reveal.

Remember, the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway ends tonight! See the post for a chance to win this handy device. Winners will be announced tomorrow morning!


33 Responses to “My Bodice Sloper”

  1. Do you use all the darts all the time or do you use them depending on the look/design you want?

    • It’s pretty rare that I leave them as you see them now. Most of the time, they are “used” but manipulated in some manner. I might manipulate the four darts into one (say, a french dart). There are instances that I’ll leave a dart in and not sew it. For instance, the armhole dart can be left in to give a little more ease in sleeved garments. Like you said, it can really depend on the look/design I’m after.

  2. Did you make this sloper based on teachings at school, a book, or your own experience? I really want to make one of these this year, and I was planning on using the book Patternmaking for Fashion Design, but I’m curious what your experience was like.

    • Yes, sorry, I should have mentioned this. Like my skirt sloper, I drafted the bodice at school (Apparel Arts in San Francisco). The book we use is called Building Patterns and was written by the founder of the school, Suzy Furrer. To draft the sloper, I first made a moulage which is basically a second skin. Once this is perfected, the moulage is cleaned up and ease is added in for the sloper. All in all, I’d say the process took me a month of weekly classes (3 hours each, as well as working at home).

      • Ahh, I remember you saying as much for your skirt sloper. Is this class something that can be taken on the side of working a real job?

        • Yes! It’ll take a big commitment but it’s really flexible. The classes are once a week for three hours and there are several time slots to choose from. It’s self paced but on average it takes students two years to get through. There is also accelerated program that takes a year and those classes meet once a month for a few days.
          If nothing else, check the additional class listings on the website. There are always really interesting sewing and design classes going on.

  3. That’s really nice. Can you tell us which (if any) of your garments were made with this sloper?

  4. very interesting! i have a few bodice blocks that are very basic but nothing this detailed. it’s cool to learn how a pro does a sloper! do you make a copy every time you use it for a project or do you have a few copies already made that you can alter right away?

  5. I’m new to sewing, and I was wondering what the goal of making a sloper is. Is this something you use to draft your own patterns from scratch or alter bought patterns, or both? I really enjoy reading your blog updates, thanks for sharing!

  6. This is really really cool! I drafted a bodice, skirt, sleeve, and pant sloper last year but didn’t you the method you used. My method didn’t have bust circumference, waist shaping, or a neckline chart. Do you mind spilling where you got your method (i.e. textbook?). I would love to take a peek. Also, how do you use the neckline chart? I’ve never heard of such a thing before!

    I’m excited to learn something new! Thank you!

    • Absolutely, Maddie! I use a book by Suzy Furrer called Building Patterns (see the comments above for a link to purchase).
      As for the neckline chart, in order to prevent gaping at the center front neckline when drafting wide necklines, the back neckline must be wider than the front. The chart provides a quick reference for how much wider the back neckline should be. I’m happy to explain this in more detail if you’d like – let me know.

      • Thanks Liz! I knew that back neck width should be approximately 1/2″ wider than front neck width or else you will have diagonal drag lines from shoulder seam at neck towards AH but I didn’t know that this would cause gapping at CF neck as well. So the chart states that if the front neck width is 10″ (boat neck), then the back neck width must be 10 1/2″? Am I correct in assuming this? Or have I got completely mad (which is very possible)?

        • No you aren’t crazy but this system doesn’t use a blanket measurement (1/2 inch) for all neckline widths. Instead it breaks down the shoulder measurement into six parts and then assigns increments of 1/8 to 7/8 to these parts. Alright, so if I draft a ten inch neckline, my shoulder is exposed about two inches. I then go to my chart and find that two inches corresponds to 1/2 inch. I add this to the neckline measurement (from center front to the shoulder point), in this case, 5 inches. In the back I’ll have a 5 1/2 inch wide neckline for a total of 11 inches (measured from center back to the shoulder point).
          Now, if the neckline is wider, I’ll add more (up to 7/8) to the back neckline and if it’s not as wide, I’ll add less.
          Does this make sense? I’m quite horrid at explaining these things without some visual aids!

        • Thanks again Lizz. Your explanation makes sense (yay!). I have one more question for you (okay, maybe two). In the example you gave in your response, you said that if the neck width was 10″, that 2″ of your shoulder would be exposed. How did you get that number? Is the neck width on your sloper 6″ (meaning increasing neck width 2″ on each side to get 10″)

          Once you determine what the front/back neck width relationship should be, do you add to back neck width or just make sure the difference is correct?

          Thanks again for all your help!

        • You know, i’m not entirely sure i’m using the correct terminology when i mention the width of my neckline. I’m not measuring along the curve but rather measuring a straight line from the center front to the shoulder point. So, I’m drawing a guideline up from the center front. From the center front I’m measuring the distance to the high shoulder point. On my sloper, that equals about three and a quarter.
          When drafting a wider neckline, I’ll choose a point on the sloper’s shoulder. I’ll note how much of the shoulder is exposed by measuring the distance from the original high shoulder point to this new point. This is the measurement i take to my chart to find the amount needed in the back. Then, I’ll the measure the distance from the center front line to this new point. I’ll add to this measurement the amount found from my chart. From the center back, I’ll slide my ruler up/down until the shoulder intersects with the measurement found from the front. I can then draft the curve from this point on the shoulder.

        • Got it! Totally makes sense! Thank you!

  7. This is so awesome. As Elizabeth notices, I am also surprised there are so many darts in your sloper. It makes sense of course when you think about it. I really loved the fit of your cherry blossom (peach blossom link takes you to cherry blossom btw).
    I guess this works for stiff fabrics, but how do you alter it when you use stretchy or knit fabrics?
    And another question 😀
    Did you create a 3d model and then made it 2d or did you calculate the geometry of your body to make it (I didn’t understand very well…)

    • It’s intended for wovens but I have drafted knit garments from it (as well as my knit sloper). For knit fabrics, the basic goal is to eliminate all the darts so that those don’t have to be sewn. When I’m using this bodice sloper, I’m normally drafting a fairly loose knit garment. My knit sloper is much more suited for close fitting knits.

      This sloper was created on paper or 2D using a bunch of measurements and wasn’t draped (3D). After I have the first draft done, I made a muslin to check the fit. Those changes are then made to the sloper. It’s finished once you are satisfied with the fit.

  8. I wish I knew how to make one of these. I have to fiddel with garments to make them fit perfectly.

  9. Very enlightening! I’m especially intrigued by the waist shaping and the multiple darts. Question – is this method all in the book – or did you do the multiple darts / waist shaping etc. based on what you needed?

    My sloper has the bust circumference – which I found to be really really important – but other than that its a fairly basic block.

  10. these posts & the back and forth in the comments are so interesting Lizz.
    Once again my block is different to yours – got a waist dart that links up with waist dart on skirt and then a big shoulder dart in front – and a small one in back. Also it’s only drafted as far as the waist so its very much bodice – I like how you have yours down to lower hip, I shall probably have to copy that at some stage 😉 and the circle for the bust/neckline is very handy looking too!

  11. That’s amazing, Lizz!! I love all the details and the notes you made for yourself – this is so beyond me at this point, but I can totally see the potential of drafting such a detailed sloper; this is truly a foundation block for so many different styles of garment! I envy the ease with which you must get a perfect fit every time without mukking about doing adjustments LOL. I would love to have something like this to work with, but also the knowledge of how to apply it to pattern drafting and customizing … one day!!! LOL

  12. Oo this is interesting, good interesting. I need to come back and re-read. :o)

  13. I saw your text book last year and considered buying it. I love pattern making books, especially when they demonstrate unique methods. This is definitely different than anything I’ve ever seen for a basic block. I might need to add this book to my collection after all. I love all the small darts which can be manipulated for styling and fit!

  14. Cool! I love looking at sloper details. I have one for a t-shirt now but it still needs a little bit of tweaking.


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