Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Initial Steps

For an explanation of my project, please visit the Introduction.

As there will be some pattern drafting involved in making these pieces work as a garment, I decided to start with the most basic of first steps by making a simple sloper. If you are unfamiliar with the term it is essentially a basic representation of the body in fabric, a shell which closely follows the contours of the form and can be used as the starting point of pattern design.

This also allowed me to check the dimensions of my little mannequin against some of the basic dimensions of the pattern pieces in Alcega (width of shoulder seams, length of torso, size of waist etc) and confirm that it is pretty much exactly 1/3 scale.

The only problem is the bust. The tricksy, tricksy breast area. Like all modern dress forms, this mannequin has a modern bust line that is considerably perkier and does not conform to the flatter corseted shape of the period silhouette. In making the basic sloper I used a fairly large bust dart, yet no such shaping exists in the pattern pieces, and darts were not a concept that had really come into use in garment construction in this period. (There are some rare and contentious examples of darts in garments of the time, but they were not generally used and it’s an argument for another forum.)

The basic sloper

I don’t particularly want to hack the breasts off my little dress form buddy, so I’ll attempt to eliminate the dart without having the garments fit too poorly. Normally I would close up the bust dart and rotate the top part of the pattern through sorcery and the power of geometry, but all that does is move the dart to another location (under the arm, or from the bust down to the waist usually). If you see any future toiles that don’t sit as neatly in the bust region as they should then just rest assured that this is because I am trying to be HISTORICALLY ACCURATE and not because I CAN’T SEW.

The troublesome bust dart highlighted in blue
Pattern drafting is a large and complicated topic, but if you are looking for pointers on how to flat pattern or drape on the form to create a basic sloper try Burdastyle's links or the first in a fantastic video series of draping on the forms by tailor Sten Martin Jonsson (just for starters).


  1. I like that you are already chucking a hissy fit over historic patterns not fitting properly, you know, just to get it out there. When one reverts to the use of both capitals and italics, one is very, very serious. I'm waiting with bated breath for some bunchy armscyes as we speak. :-D

  2. Ha ha, yes well. FIT IS EVERYTHING. See, I just can't help it.