I am releasing my Misses size 8 slopers into the commons. I grant permission to anyone who wants to use them commercially or personally. You can copy, download and size in your graphics program. My reason for making these available is to help others get a head start on their patternmaking and dressmaking business or hobby. The slopers were developed through draping on a Misses size 8 Wolf form. The grid used for the photos is in inches.
In this posting I share progress photos of a new dress developed through a combo of flat patternmaking and draping. The photos featured are of the half-toile to test the fit.
Combination Technique: Draping and flat patternmaking
95% of this toile was made using a flat pattern. I used the Misses Size 8 sloper to create the fitted bodice, semi-fitted skirt and basic unfitted sleeve.
The flat pattern for the bodice front had the horizontal side dart closed and vertical dart opened. The construction of the bodice shoulder, back yoke, back tuck and side seams were completed. After steam pressing the bodice was pinned to the form. The excess dart intake below the bust was draped into two vertical tucks each 3 1/8″ high and about 1 1/2″ wide. I like the softer look of the tucks over the dressmaker dart under the bust.
I am very pleased so far with the 6 gore skirt. It was created by closing the darts of the basic semi-fitted skirt. The skirt front and back were cut along the lines of the dart and below the dart. Each piece then had extra width added at the hemline along front and back princess lines and side seams. I find the fit of this kind of gored skirt even more flattering than that of the 6 or 8 gore skirt created through flat patternmaking.
The collar was simple, easy flat patternmaking as was the sleeve. The next posting will be published once the fitting toile is complete.
Giving a Name to the Dress
As I work on a new project and gather the notions and fabric, I develop an image of who the dress will be for. I choose a name to create a sense of space between my self and what is coming to expression. This permits me to think whether or not improvements are needed. When I am too close personally and emotionally to a project become too attached. That is not good because it prevents perception of where the fit or creative result is lacking. This dress is called Alice. I will add a middle name once I feel more of the character of the dress emerging.
The Marfy pattern books are published by Marfy Studio Stilistico in Ferrara, Italy. Each edition comes with a free, multi-sized pattern. The illustrations are detailed enough so that dressmakers and patternmakers can get ideas for their own projects.
Along with the exquisite illustrations, there are fabric recommendations. The color combinations are sometimes striking, other times subdued. There is something for every style preference. The illustrations include jewelry, shoes, hats, handbags that complete all the must know details to create your own version of the look.
I recently bought the “Evergreen” collection catalogue. It includes Marfy pattern illustrations from the past and the present. There is a wide variety of looks from evening wear to casual wear. Many outfits consist of skirts, slacks, blouses and a various styles of coats and jackets. The lines are simple which make for a look that will last beyond current trends.
Further consideration of my plans for my next project is needed. The sketch of the chambray shirtwaist dress expresses my idea. However, the details I had envisioned must be changed.
I had planned on having in-seam buttonholes. I have been wanting to try this kind of buttonhole for a long time. I want to see how it will work on light to medium weight fabrics. As I thought about my shirtwaist dress I can see that having a seam along center front will cut into the middle gore of the skirt front. This will add extra weight and interfere with the flare. I plan a six gore skirt for the dress.
Possible solutions for new design details
I decided to analyze the construction details of a Pat Perkins everyday dress I bought on Etsy. Pat Perkins was the name of a dress manufacturer in the 1950s. They provided some of the dresses worn by actress Audrey Meadows in a popular sitcom, “The Honeymooners”.
I found the solution to keeping the flares of the skirt undisturbed. I will have to install a lapped zipper into the side seam. I will use the same treatment as used in the Pat Perkins dress. This means I can use in-seam buttonholes for the dress. However, the buttons will only be used on the bodice. Having a size zipper will provide the means for ease in putting the dress on or off.
Pat Perkins Everyday Dress circa 1950s
The dress has a fitted bodice with two vertical tucks on each side at the front. The short, unfitted sleeves have a self cuff that turns up from the inside. The collar is similar to a blouse collar and has very little stand. The back bodice has two very small tucks on each side.
The skirt i seven gores: 4 in front and 3 in back. There is a slight flare in each panel. The panel at center front has a seam. At the back there is no seam in the center skirt panel.
To make the dress easy to put on and off, there is about 3″ of style ease at the waist. The fit near the chest and bust has a little less style ease. This will help me adjust my pattern after using the sloper to trace the basic pattern.
The zipper is machine stitched into the left side seam. There is an underlap of fabric that provides body for the zipper and protects the wearer from feeling the zipper teeth. I plan to do the zipper application by hand and use a lightweight nylon zipper. The one in the original dress is metal.
The dress closes with self fabric button loops at center front. An underlap on the left side of the front bodice provides support.
The belt holes are not reinforced with any stitching. No eyelets were used. The buckle is covered with the fashion fabric. Narrow loops at the side seams are the only support to hold the belt in place. The backing has the stamp “Belt King”. I plan to use a belt kit and eyelets. At the side seams I usually use thread loops.
To lend a touch of support to the back of the dress a long facing is used as part of the collar treatment. I do not plan to use this neckline finishing since my dress will have a yoke.
The seams are not finished. No pinking, no edge stitching. The waistline seam is pressed down rather than up. The hem was turned twice and looks to be hand finished.
The basic fitting shell for the Misses Size 8 was draped. A toile was made twice each time refining the fit. When the basic Size 8 was turned into a sloper I then went on to customize it for myself.
Why not draft a custom made pattern?
I have been drafting patterns to my own measurements and have become very comfortable with the system I use. During the COVID-19 related furlough from my job this past Spring I decided it was time to take on a few challenges.
I am weak in the making of alterations. Since my dress form is a standard Misses 8, I decided to take on the challenges of draping and altering a Misses 8 for myself. I am between a Misses 6 and 8 for the bodice. For a skirt I am between a Misses 8 and 10.
I also have fitting challenges resulting from a small bustline, concave chestline and sloping shoulders. There were a few challenges I wanted to take up on the time I had to stay home from March until June 2020.
Working with Oaktag
The goal of using sloper was on my To Do list since 2018. The large roll of oaktag I bought from Steinlauf & Stoller moved with me from Brooklyn, NY to Linden, NJ waiting to be used. Being tightly rolled up for 2 years made it difficult to get into a workable state for making a sloper.
I had to roll the oaktag out on the floor and keep it in place with heavy books. I then cut the oak tag into length and width suitable to each pattern piece. To stop the curling I pressed each piece of oak tag by covering them with a thick towel. Then I used a steam iron to press flat.
The ends still curled so I laid the pressed oaktag pieces on top of each other onto the floor. The I piled heavy books evenly across them.
After two days the oak tag was flat enough. The pattern pieces were laid on top and the markings transferred. I cut out the darts because I want to try pivoting the pattern pieces to change the dart intake when working on transformations.
The white slopers are for the standard Misses Size 8. The green are mine. You can immediately see where my figure differs from the standard. I have to get a hole puncher. Then the hooks from which to hang the sloper pieces.
Bodice and Skirt Slopers. Misses Size 8 left. Size 8 altered to my figure on right.
Misses Size 8 unfitted sleeve on left. Sleeve adjusted to my figure on right.
I always start a project with a sketch. It acts as a roadmap. Once a fitting toile is made, the style may take on further changes. It depends on the resulting drape and other details I may want to add. Right now, I am considering this shirtwaist dress with additional details. The most practical are pockets set into the side seam. A shirtwaist dress is a working garment so I see the pockets as important. They can hold my keys, some money or receipts when I have to go to the lobby for a delivery or am at the laundry. Yet I want this dress to have a feminine look. I might also go to meet a friend or pay a visit while out. In this case I think a bracelet and small earrings are good. Pretty buttons also add a feminine touch.
A fashion sketch starts with a croquis. Here is how I make one and the reasons why a croquis is important.
The process of creating a preliminary sketch
The function of the croquis is to provide a foundation upon which to project one’s vision of the style. It helps create an awareness of the body contours under the garment. Croquis can be shaped as you please. I use the 10 1/2 heads size because I like working with the elongated silhouette. I have a preference for the early 20th century artist Erte and take some inspiration from his work. You can also have croquis more life-like as to size and proportion. It is a kind of interaction between a person and their vision that will determine the kind of croquis to use.
To save money for fabric and notions I use simple supplies available at the 99 cent stores or Dollar General. Number 2 pencils, white tissue paper used for gifts, tracing paper, erasers, coloring pencils, and white copy paper. The croquis is drawn on white copy paper.
For the first layer, I use white tissue paper. This saves the tracing paper for the final sketch. Here I have drawn in a shoulder pad. Since I have slightly sloping shoulders I plan to make custom sized shoulder pads as a corrective which ensures a better fit. The pads will be no more than 1/8″ high. Having the shoulder pads drawn in results in the next sketch better reflecting how the shoulderline, collar and sleeve will look.
Another layer of tissue paper is placed on top. The garment details are sketched in. I like the look of a paper doll so I use a ruler to draw most seams and lines. The hairstyle, jewelry, accessories and shoes are added in this sketch. Design details like tucks, gathers, and so on are also added.
The tracing paper is placed on top of the previous layer. All the lines, angles and measurements of the sheet underneath are not traced. Only the finished lines and features meant to convey the garment and style sense. I take the tracing paper off and color in on the opposite side using coloring pencils.
Notes about inspirations for notions and other details are penciled in. Swatches of the chambray fabric and underlining cotton are also pinned to the sketch. The chambray is light enough to give a graceful drape to the gored skirt. Since it is slightly transparent, I want an underlining. It will also add just a little extra body to support the in-seam buttonholes and in-seam pockets.
Once the sketch is completed ideas start to come. I pencil these on the sketch and then search them out. Right now I am thinking that porcelain or clay buttons will go well on this dress. If I go with this choice I’d like the buttons to have a white background and delicate blue designs or a border. Another possibility are vintage glass buttons. So that the buttons remain the key visual element I would make the belt and buckle of the same fabric as the dress. The jewlery can be silver or white.
When I draped the basic skirt I ended up with two darts for the front and back skirts. I had followed the instructions in in Draping for Fashion Design by Hilda Jaffe and Nurie Rellis. Although the dart intake was evenly distributed the finished results were unsatisfactory. In this posting I will share how I evalatuated the results and made the correction.
The first drape
After the skirt toile was completed it was stitched to the basic bodice. The two darts did not create a smooth fit over the abdomen as it curves to the hipline in front and back. I noticed there were tiny pleats following the end of the larger dart placed over the princess line in front and back of the form.
The tiny folds forming from the end of the dart to the hipline needed fixing. At first it looks like the dart should be lengthened. However, that is not an attractive look. Darts in the front of a skirt should run from waist to abodomen level. The length is usually 4 1/2-5″ but not any longer.
The dart has to release its fullness over the fullest point where it lies. What I decided to do was change the pattern from two darts to one dart. I used the same amount of intake for the single dart. I also added a little ease at the hem line at the side seam. This creates a less tubular effect for the basic skirt. I like the look so will try it for the first project using the completed sloper.
Corrected skirt toile
I made a half-toile of the corrected skirt to check the dart placement, the way it lies against the form and the slight ease at the hemline.
The corrections worked without the need for me to drape another skirt front and back. The solution was to simply redraw one dart, slightly past the princess line going towards the side seam. For the front skirt the dart length is 4 1/2″. For the back 5 1/2″. I used the intake of the two darts to create one dart each for front and back. The dart intake is now 1″ each.
I marked the dart line with red and black dots so you can see the difference. The corrected darts now line smoothly and release the fullness without any tucks forming.
In my next posting I will upload a sketch of the shirtwaist dress I will make using the basic sloper made from this drape.
Size Misses 4 measurements are used as an example.
Front Skirt Length=24″ (40″-16″=24″)
Calculate One Fourth of the Waist Measurement: 1/4 of 23″=5 3/4″
Add to the measurement obtained:
1 3/4″ in case of waist measurement from 22 to 26″
2: in the case of waist measurement from 26 to 30″
2 1/4″ in the case of waist measurement from 30 to 34″
2 1/2″ in the case of waist measurement from 34 to 38″
For Misses Size 4 the waist measurement to use is 5 3/4″ + 1 3/4″=7 1/2″
Drafting the Half Circle Skirt Pattern
Make a Right Angle and apply on both sides the result obtained from adding the ease to one fourth of the waist measurement. For Misses size 4 that is 7 1/2″. Refer to pattern illustration. The 7 1/2″ down from the corner are points A-B and A-C.
From B following the A-B line, apply the measurement of the Front Skirt Length. (example, Misses Size 4=24″). Mark the Skirt Length as Point D. Points B-D become Center Front and Center Back of Skirt.
From C following the A-C line, apply in the same manner the measurement of the Front Skirt Length Mark the Skirt Length as Point E. Points C-E are Side Seams of Skirt.
Fold the skirt pattern in half by bring A-B-D over to A-C-E. Crease.
Fold the skirt pattern in another half. Crease.
Open the pattern. The three fold lines represent the rays of the pattern.
From A measure down the A-B distance along the other creases. Mark with a dot. See pattern illustration. Mark each dot F, G, H.
Join points B-F-G-H-C by means of a curve to get the curve of the waistline.
From Points F, G, and H measure down the skirt length along each crease. Mark with a dot. You will mark them I, J, K. Refer to pattern illustration.
Connect D-I-J-K-E for hemline curve.
Cut out the pattern. The grainline can be along B-D when placed on the fold for Center Front and Center Back.
I advise creating a fitting toile since you may need to adjust the waist at the side seams. Half Circle and Full Circle Skirts cut into the bias. The waistline may stretch a little.
To stabilize the waistline, stay stitch after cutting. Do not hang the skirt up until the waistline is finished with a facing or waistband. Then hang the skirt for 2 days or more so that the drape sets in.
A lapped side zipper is one of my favorite closures. It does not interfere with the drape and the flares.
The measurements used in this pattern are for a Misses Size 4. They are used to provide an example. You will substitute your own measurements to draft your custom pattern.
The Flattering Qualities of a Gored Skirt
Gored skirts are flattering to all figure types, especially when the pattern is drafted to your own measurements. This is because the pattern is drafted with a slight curve from waist to abdomen or waist to hipline. After the slight curve, the line becomes straight and ends however many inches from the center of the skirt that you want. The greater the width of the hemline the more flare and movement the gores will have.
The point at which the curve stops is best determined by your own hip and abdomen measurements. In general these are the guidelines:
If your hips are larger than your abdomen let the flare start at the hipline. If this is your body type, then you will use the measurement Waist to Hip line for points A-C.
If your abdomen is larger than your hip let the flare start at the abdomen. In this case you will use the measurement Waist to Abdomen for Point A-C.
The Front Skirt Length used is completely up to you. A length of 27-30” will give you a retro looking skirt reminiscent of the 1930s. To achieve such an effect use the diagram for creating a Trumpet Skirt with flare starting at the hip line.
Style Ease to add to measurements
For a gored skirt add 1-2” of ease for the abdomen or hipline. To the waist add about 1/2″ of ease.
Measurements (used for an example) for a Gored Skirt Pattern
The measurements used here are for a Standard Size Misses 4. They are used as an example. Substitute another Standard Size or your personal measurements.
Waist 24”+ 1/2″ ease=24 ½”
Abdomen Circumference 35”+1” ease=36” OR
Hip Circumference 36”+ 1” ease=37”
Waist to Abdomen 4” OR
Waist to Hip 8”
Front Skirt Length 28”
Drafting Instructions for a six gore skirt
You will be dividing the waist, abodomen or hip measurement by six. If you want to create an 8 gore skirt you will then divide by 8. If you’re up to it you can also create 10 or 12 gore skirts. The number of gores you want will determine the number by which the waist and hip or abdomen are divided.
The diagrams show the completed skirt pattern when the pattern is cut and opened. To draft we will need to draw only half the pattern.
Cut a sheet of pattern paper the front length of the skirt plus 5-6”. The width should be about 20 inches.
1. Draw a vertical line equal to the Front Skirt Length. Label A at the top and B at the bottom.
2. Fold the paper along the A-B line. You will draft with the pattern paper fold on your right hand side and the paper towards your left hand side.
3. From A mark down the length of Waist to Abdomen or the Waist to Hipline Measurement. Dot this and mark as point C.
For a Misses Size 4 skirt with flare from Abdomen Point C is 4” down from A.
For a Messes Size 4 skirt with flare from Hipline Point C is 8” down from A.
4. Take the Waist plus ease measurement and divide by the number of gores wanted. In this sample pattern the Size 4 waist plus ease measurement is 24 1/2″. So the calculation for a 6 gore skirt is 24 1/2″ divided by 6 equals 4.08”. Round off to 4”.
5. Apply half of the amount derived from the calculation performed in Step 4 and measure out from Point A. Label Point D.
6. Take the Abdomen plus ease or Hipline plus ease measurement and divide by the number of gores. For a trumpet skirt in Misses Size 4 the Hipline measurement will be used. So the calculation is:
Hipline plus ease is 37 divided by 6 equals 6.16. Round off to 6”.
7. Apply half of the measurement obtained in Step 6 and draw a straight line from Point C. Label Point F.
8. Using the hip curve position the part with the slightest curve against points A and F. Draw a very slight curve. It should not be too pronounced of a curve but not a straight line either.
9. Taking a tape measure, place the start of the tape measure at Point D, continue past Point F and from Point F straight down until the Front Skirt Measurement is reached. Dot this as point H.
10. Connect Point B to H with a slight curve.
12. If you want a dramatic flare or are drafting the Trumpet Skirt pattern, measure out from Point H 1” or more. The greater the amount you measure out the greater the flare will be at the hemline. I find 1 to 1 1/2″ good enough. Mark the new Point H and redraw the line from F to the new point H.
Connect Point B with the new Point H by a slight curve.
13. Cut out the pattern and open it up. The gored piece is now completed. This represents one gore of the six gore skirt. You will have to cut 6 pieces. To make it simpler, fold the pattern piece again and cut two more pattern pieces if you like.
14. 1/2” seam allowances are added when the fabric is cut.
IMPORTANT: I strongly advise making a muslin to test the fit and amount of ease. This will save you so much effort once the fashion fabric is cut.
Grainline for this pattern
The vertical A-B line can be used as the lengthwise grain line.
When taking measurements, hold the tape measure with one hand inside, against the body. This will allow a slight amount of ease. The fitting sloper is very close to the body in order to achieve the best assessment of the fit. It also shows if the measurements are accurate or need adjusting. Style ease is added to key measurements once a pattern for a particular style is created. The basic fitting sloper is the mother of all creations. From the basic all your creations will be derived. Some patterns like a half circle or gored skirt do not require so many measurements. These styles are a good start for a pattern drafting.
CHEST CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1A Place the tape around the back, under the arm and above the bust.
BUST CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1B Around the fullest part of the bust.
RIB CAGE CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1C About 3-4″ below the bust.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1D Around the waist.
ABDOMEN CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1E Around the fullest part of the abdomen, approximately 4: below the waist.
WAIST TO ABDOMEN: photo 1F From the waist to the circumference of the abdomen, usually 4″ to 5″.
HIP CIRCUMFERENCE: photo 1G Please note a correction: 1G should be same level as 1H. I made a mistake in labelling the photo. Around the fullest part of the hip. Note: I have found it varies with figure type. It can be 7 to 9″ below the waistline.
WAIST TO HIP: photo 1H Measure the distance from waist to hip.
SHOULDER WIDTH: photo 2A-D From the side of the neck to the tip of the shoulder.
NECK TO BUST LENGTH: photo 2A-B On the side of the neck from a point where the shoulder begins, to the bust point.
FRONT BODICE LENGTH: photo 2A-C From the same point as used in the previous measurement, continue with the tape over the bust, adjusting it to the figure down to the waist.
NECKLINE: photo 3A-B From the first vertebra following the shape of the neck to the place the seam shoulder begins and then to center front.
CROSS CHEST WIDTH: photo 4A-B From the point where the arm begins to the same point on the other arm in the front.
BUST SEPARATION: photo 4C-D Take the distance between the two breast points.
BACK BODICE LENGTH: photo 5A-F From the first vertebra down, along the back, to the waistline.
CROSS BACK WIDTH: photo 5G-H In the back, from the point where the arm begins, to the same point on the other arm.
FRONT BODICE LENGTH: 6A-C is the side view of measurement given in 2A-C.
FRONT SHOULDER TO WAIST: 6D-E From the front edge of the shoulder pull the tape tightly down to the waistline.
BACK SHOULDER TO WAIST: 6D-F From the back edge of the shoulder pull the tape tightly down to the waistline.
Please note that in real life the measurements in this section must be taken with the arm bent so that the hand rests on the hip. This way of measuring the arm provides room for movement.
ARM LENGTH: photo 7C-d-E From the tip of the shoulder to the wrist.
UPPER ARM WIDTH: photo 7A Take measurement at widest point of arm. Also called Biceps Level.
ELBOW WIDTH: photo 7B Around the elbow with arm bent.
WRIST WIDTH: photo 7E Around the wrist.
FRONT SKIRT LENGTH: photo 8A-B Length from waist to floor at Center Front when wearing the kinds of shoes the outfit will be worn with.
SIDE SKIRT LENGTH: photo 9C-D Length from waist to floor at point where side seam of skirt will be when wearing the kinds of shoes the outfit will be worn with.
BACKSKIRT LENGTH: photo 10E-F Length from waist to floor at Center Back when wearing the kinds of shoes the outfit will be worn with.