Making it your own

A dress sloper is easy to make and can be modified several ways to make tops, skirts or dresses. I’ve filmed a tutorial on how to do it. I chose one of my best fitting dresses. At the time of filming I hadn’t worn it yet because it is made of a real lightweight fabric, and it was winter here in Minnesota.

With this one sloper, I’ll be able to make tops, skirts and many similar dresses. To make this pattern I’ll need a cutting board, paper (I use brown wrapping paper), rulers, chalk or pen, scissors or rotary cutter, fabric weights to hold the dress in place (I am using my favorite fossils), pins, and of course a dress that fits beautifully.

I start by making observations about the garment. The first thing is the style. Mine is a simple dress with a fitted bodice and A-line skirt. It is without a collar, just a plain neckline, so I won’t need to make a pattern piece for that. The sleeves on my dress are set-in and fitted, and they also have fluted cuffs.

I probably won’t include that in my garment, but for now I’m just making observations, and that is what this dress has. Moving on to the bodice, I see that it has side darts. For the front there are no other details. One other observation at this point is that it is made of a woven fabric. So if I make a similar dress from say a knit, I would need to go up a size.

Turning the dress over to expose the back, I can see that there is a slit in the bodice, with three tie closures. Below these there is an invisible zipper. Lastly, I turn the dress inside out and see that it is fully lined. Again I probably won’t include that in my garment, but that’s what I observe. A last observation here is that the hemline is narrow so it will need just an extra 1/4″ for the cutting line at the bottom.

I can now get started. The first thing I do is turn the sleeves to the inside so that I can get complete and crisp armhole curves. Pinning the sleeves so that they don’t roll over helps with this. Make sure that your paper is big enough to accommodate the width of your dress. I had to tape two pieces together to make mine wide enough for the width of my skirt.

Once I have the right size paper, I lay the dress down, using my fabric weights to keep it in place. I outline the entire perimeter of the dress using dashes or dots. By doing this, if I ever want to make this out of say a fabric with directional print or even another plaid, I won’t have to worry about making sure the patterns match I can just cut it in one piece. I’ll have the whole outline and not have to redraft.

Now because this dress has side darts in the bodice, when I’m outlining the top I start at the shoulders and go about an inch down on the sides, then I move the dress on the paper that same inch down before continuing with the outline. That way, when I draw in the darts this extra inch will accommodate them.

Unlike commercial patterns where they use a 5/8″ seam allowance, which they do so that there is room for adjustments, I will only need a 1/4″ seam. So my outline is made that distance away from the garment, and this becomes my cutting line. I know how this dress fits me, so there is no need for all that bulk in my seams. Repeat all these same steps to outline the back.

Once the outline is complete, its time to draft the details. I fold the pattern in half to make sure that everything is symmetrical. I draw in the darts, the waistline, and hip line. Those last two is where I would cut to make a skirt or top respectively. I also remembered to draw the extra 1/4″ for the hem. Once I have repeated these steps for the back pattern piece, my pattern is ready.

I figured I’d make something similar in a thicker fabric. When I do, I’ll be sure to share it with you all. I hope you find this helpful, and that you make your own pattern. Let me know how yours come out. Do you think you will use this technique to make a top, bottom or another dress? Which of your favorite pieces will you copy?

Happy sewing! and thanks for stopping by.

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