Gosh I thought I really knew what I was going to say about slopers in general when I started this blog post, but now I’m just not so sure.

Do we need slopers? If so, why?  How have you, or I for that matter, gone all these years in sewing without hearing about them, now they are everywhere? And why does Fashion-Incubator say they aren’t really used in the professional garment making industry?

Well, let’s start out with WHAT THE HECK IS A SLOPER?

I’ve checked around the good ol’ web and there are a variety of definitions about slopers when it comes to garment making.  In some camps, a sloper is a two dimensional paper template (if you will be generous enough to grant me use of that term here) which does not contain seam allowances and conforms to your body dimensions.  In other camps, the sloper is the product you make with said two dimensional template, a fitting garment if you will.  Aren’t those called muslins? Or Toiles?  Yes, and how those are different I couldn’t tell you, having not been to fashion school.

To add to the confusion, there is an additional concept called the block.  This comes into play because it is based off the sloper, but more reflects the garment’s design, without seam allowances, still.

But they are all the sewing rage, you say.  And apparently you are correct.  People are throwing out the term willy-nilly, making themselves sound oh so knowledgeable.  But as Fashion-Incubator says, that only works on those that don’t know better or don’t read her blog. 😀

I first came across the term in a youtube video on adjusting a pattern.  In the video, the person referred to “my sloper” repeatedly and never told us what exactly a sloper is.  Talk about annoying! I never finished watching that video come to think of it.  And Now I find that many pattern companies are coming out with slopers, Threads magazine has details on making slopers, and BurdaStyle has a class on making 5 personal slopers to fit you and you alone.

First of all, do we need slopers?  It depends on what you are doing.  Are you making your own custom designed outfits and thus will need a basis for your patterns (and before your patterns, your blocks)?  Then sure, whip out your tape measure and get started on making your sloper.

Are you working from store-bought (or online) patterns exclusively?  Well then a sloper is just something some sewing enthusiasts are into and this fad, too, shall pass.  If you aren’t making your own patterns, then a sloper is not going to gain you anything.  Period.  I cannot find a use-case for slopers (trivet? art?) outside of pattern making.

Have I been ANY help at all?  No?  Didn’t think so.  The confusion reigns on this topic I’m afraid.

Here are some resources on and about slopers, if you do decide this is something you have to get in on.

BurdaStyle has several Plus-Sized Sloper Patterns, including this Plus Size Dress sloper.

Essential Stuff has some detailed info on slopers and blocks (in a whole series on garment creation).

Fashion Incubator has the best discussion of why you should stop using the word sloper.

Check out Gedwoods techniques and use of slopers and blocks. (also on the BurdaStyle Site)

And of course, the course I mentioned. 5 personalized slopers (and hopefully what the heck to do with them).

 

If you find another use for slopers beyond pattern making, leave me a note in the comments! I’m excited to hear what you guys and gals come up with!

 

Did Burda alienate all of the plus size sewists out there?  I was checking out this recent post of theirs with “new” re-releases in plus-sized patterns.  And look, zero comments.

Compare that to this post.  The comments are pretty savage.  Maybe the post hasn’t gotten out there enough for people to post on it yet.  Maybe it’s that the styles are/were average/thin styles that have been converted to plus size patterns?  Maybe it’s because you have to log in now to post comments?  I’m not sure.  I find the collection interesting, but nothing I would want in my wardrobe.  I’ll have to get Sheri’s thoughts on this, since she’s much more tuned-in to fashion than I am.

The comments on this collection, are much kinder.  I love that draped dress.  Sheri, ready for me to make you a new dress? 😀

 

serginggreyloungepants  Here’s a quick series of shots for a pattern I whipped up super quick.  These pants each only took about

1 hour to make, start to finish.  The biggest issue is that the stretchy knit fabric wanted to curl, making it hard to really judge the width of fabric I was cutting off with the serger.  There’s probably not much I could do to avoid that…buy different fabric, add some seam binding? Ah but I’m fairly lazy.

To the left here is me serging the seams of the grey knit fabric.  It’s lighter weight than the lizards.  And significantly softer.  But wow aren’t the lizards adorable?  And how cute is lizard lounge pants (get it, lounge lizard?) Heheh.

Anyway, I used the pattern I’d previously made, Simplicity 1622.  I cut a size 28, as that is what my measurements lined up to.  I have to say, these are huge.  First, I made them significantly longer, as the previous attempts, the fabric shrunk (yep, I prewashed), and I ended up with what looked like the illegitimate child of culottes and capris.  Meh, I wear them to bed, who cares, right?  They were not mean for wearing outside anyway.

 

lizardfabric Here’s the lizard fabric up close.  I bought it at Fabric.com,  and they just got some back in stock.  Oh it says juvenile. He he. Ok some of us don’t act our ages. 😀

lizardpantsAnd here they are almost finished.  I still needed to put in the elastic and hem the legs.

 

lizardpantsToolong

 

 

 

 

 

 

See how much I overcompensated for the shrinkage?

 

greyloungepantsAnd here are the grey ones with the hemming yet to be done.  So more about the fit.  I am going to take four inches off the stomach area.  Ok, maybe three and we’ll see if more needs to be done.  The pattern assumes I’m as big in the front as the rear, which isn’t the case.  I’m a pear – shape, with most of that in the backside.  I can literally pull the pants up to under my chest, and have the crotch not pulling at all.  Which brings me to the other complaint.  The crotch is way too low.  Now, in reading “Sewing for Plus Sizes,” by Barbara Deckert (reviewed here), she specifically says that so much “crotch drop” might be disarming after wearing jeans and more fitted yoga type pants. Very much so.  I’m not comfortable with the crotch so low. And I don’t think it’s more attractive in this particular pattern. I think it’s that the crotch length is too long and I should adjust for it in the pattern next time.

I keep coming back to this question, and the honest truth is, there is no good answer.  “It depends,” is the best I can muster.  And here’s why:

If you are like me, and you are absolutely cheapskate mentality when it comes to buying clothes, then it can be cheaper to buy something from Wally-World.  A great example: I bought a size 20 (rtw), knit maxi-dress at Wally-World for $13.96 on sale.  There is no way I could have bought the fabric retail to make a home-made version for that price, not when you are hard pressed to find decent fabric under $9.00 a yard these days.  Now, had I the fabric already in my stash, or taken apart something else to upcycle the fabric, then sure, I could have done it for the price of the pattern.  Except, oh my, patterns can be easily $11-20.00! IF you don’t buy them on sale.  And the local fabric stores rotate through their $1.99 or 5 for $10.00 sales about every other month.  Even online the Big 4 pattern companies will drop their prices down to ~$3/pattern.  Like any good cheapskate, it’s about waiting out the best deals.

But, if you buy your fabric retail, your pattern retail, and your notions retail…then you can be looking at quite the price tag (in my opinion).  An example of this is the current project Sheri and I are working on.  The fabric was not on sale, $43.00 (not including tax – luckily free shipping).  The pattern I got on sale, but still was $6.95.  The zipper, lining, and interfacing came to $18.47 (including tax).  So we are looking at $68.42 BEFORE any labor costs are associated with the finished project.  I would never pay nearly $70.00 for a dress.  I am that cheap.

Sheri, on the other hand, has excellent taste, fashion sense, and a keen eye for quality.  She would invest in a dress that she would love, would wear frequently and would last a long time.  I know she’d be looking for a coupon code for the website, but I have a feeling that she wouldn’t hesitate to buy a dress that met all her criteria but came with a $70 price tag.  My friend Marisa, who also has incredible style and taste, just spent $90 on a dress…that originally retailed for $950.00 (She is the queen of sales!).

I don’t know how some of the vendors on Etsy do it.  Here’s a non-clothing example.  I made a walker bag for a friend of mine recovering from spinal surgery.  I used fabric from my stash, but still included it in the estimate of cost.  It came to nearly $50 in materials, not including labor (took me three days on and off working on this bag).  On Etsy I found the same walker bags (probably made with the same Simplicity pattern) for sale for $35-$40.00.  I was floored.  They are giving the bags away, unless they are getting their fabric wholesale.  Which is a whole ‘nother discussion.

When I was going through a particularly lean stretch between paychecks one month, and one of the kids who was staying with me needed pants, we hit the stash and for the cost of an $1.99 pattern from Hancocks, churned out three new adorable pairs of pants and one pair of shorts.  If I had had to buy the fabric, it probably would have been cheaper to hit up Wally-World or Goodwill.

Anyway – So yeah, it depends.  It’s a very subjective thing.  How cheap are you to begin with?  What would you consider expensive for an item of clothing?  Do you shop the sales, and would you continue to do so with the materials that go into constructing your own garments?  And most importantly, how much do you count for your own labor? Ten dollars an hour? Twenty? Don’t say nothing! You absolutely must consider your labor into the cost of the garments your produce.

I’m not trying to turn you away from sewing your own clothes, merely get you thinking about why you do sew your own clothes.  I’ll try to include some frugal tips here and there in my posts as well.  And Sheri will keep me from venturing too far into the void where I’m wearing bread bags for shoes.

Happy Plus Sized Sewing!

Donna

 

 

Overwhelmed…yet inspired…and intimidated.

That’s my immediate series of thoughts as I set down Sewing For Plus Sizes, by Barbara Deckert.

IMG_1367

This book is so easily read, with great descriptions and wonderful illustrations to explain even the most difficult to grasp (it seems!) concepts.  I flew through it in just a couple of hours, then flipped back to re-read sections I knew would apply to me, to my friends, and to my clients.  Wow! I love how much I learned in just a few short hours.  I picked the book up off Amazon for less than 15.00 and it’s money well spent. Less than a pattern, and gives you details on making any pattern fit you perfectly.

It also had a lot of detail and history that explained what I’ve found myself in that ready-to-wear or store-bought clothing is so differently sized than patterns.  I was devastated to learn I was a 28 in pattern sizing, consistently wearing at 20 in off-the-shelf clothing.  Her history made a lot of sense and gave me a bit of relief.

She exudes body-acceptance throughout this book, to boot.  I found that very refreshing, as so many of the sewing pattern and design walls I’ve hit have been size-related.

Here’s one more image from the book, I hope it’s ok to post.  It’s my favorite page.  Has all the measurements needed to adequately fit the plus-sized woman.  IMG_1370Tomorrow, Sheri and I will be pulling out the tape measure and giving it a go. My next project is her dress for their family portraits.  I only have about 11 days to finish it, and plan to use many of the concepts in this book.  One in particular, and the author stresses this emphatically, is that the basted fitting is a MUST.  So we’ll definitely be doing that as well.

Oh and she even provides details on making a custom plus-sized dress form, to more accurately modify patterns and easily do fittings.

I’m definitely going to do that, as soon as I find someone willing to wrap me in packing tape.

 

Happy Plus-Sized Sewing!

Donna

Here is a sneak peak!