What is a sloper?

The sloper (also referred to as a basic block) is a very closely fitted pattern based on precise measurements that is used for verifying measurements and fitting. Once a Patternmaker Pro sloper fits, all other patterns within the system based on that sloper will fit as expected. Nearly all patterns in the program are based on slopers. The only exceptions are patterns that are drafted using historical methods. These are easy to spot and have their own unique set of techniques and don't use slopers as a base.

Slopers are not intended to be worn. They don't have fasteners and there is little ease, if any. For example, a bodice will have a front and back pattern and seam allowances to sew them all together. You'd need to add extensions or zippers, if you wanted to wear it.

Slopers are the perfect starting point for use in the Fashioner. Since there is no design ease, you can modify the pattern to create the ultimate fit for your design.

You can always use a sloper pattern and make modifications so that it can be worn. If you want to turn a sloper into a wearable, you should consider making the following changes:

  • Lower the dart apex point by 3/4” / 19mm and redrawing dart legs.
  • Add wearing ease to the bust, waist and hips.
  • Increasing the crotch depth and extension.
  • Lowering the armhole.
  • Add closures.

Basic Block / Sloper History

Originally, much of the world depended on European designers, particularly those from France. Designers would develop styles using the hand draping method.

Draping is the proces of positioning and pinning fabric on a dress form to develop the design of the garment. Designers play with the properties of the fabric in regard to how it lays on the body and drapes. Pinning is done to fit the fabric to the form.

Manufacturers would purchase these finished garments or muslin replicas. Patterns would be developed from these garments.

In the US, European sources for original designs and patterns stopped because of the first world war. Flat pattern drafting was adopted.

Flat pattern drafting is the process of creating foundation patterns, called basic blocks or slopers, from the measurements of one model. The fashion designer provides a sketch of the desired garment and patternmakers manipulate the foundation patterns into the garment.

In mass production, that one pattern is then used to create all the different sizes using a method called grading. The garment is then sewn in multiple sizes and fabrics for sale in a store. This is called Ready-Wear or Factory-Made.

After the war, manufacturers didn’t return to the European designers. Instead they began creating their own designs from block patterns. Mass production methods improved as did the block patterns they developed. Block patterns are now the industry standard.

More and more drafting books using basic blocks have become available to those outside the industry. Unfortunately, these books all teach the pencil and paper method of drafting. Computer pattern drafting has only been available to professionals at a very steep cost. All of that changes with Patternmaker Pro.

Patternmaker Pro is a flat pattern, made-to-measure, automatic computer drafting system. The Fashioner gives you the means to make changes to the blocks quickly and accurately. Now you can learn how to use basic blocks as a template for your custom designs.