09 January 2011

Developing a Bodice Sloper: Day 1

It is pretty well known that I have been on a mission to sew a fitted blouse. I've gone through countless muslins, patterns, and FBAs over the years, but have not succeeded in getting the bodice to fit. If the bodice fits well, the sleeves are a mess. If the sleeves fit, the back is too tight. One fitting triumph produces another fitting failure and the miserable cycle continues.

I took a bodice sloper class a couple of years ago with mediocre end results. The sloper doesn't have sleeves (wtf!) and I never learned how to use it to adjust other patterns. Grr... Since I don't give up easily, I decided to enroll in another bodice sloper class. By the end of eight weeks, we should have a customized bodice, sleeve, and skirt sloper. I was skeptical about taking the class at first because we are developing the sloper from a commercial pattern (been there, done that). However after having the first class, I am more optimistic as I've learned much more about where my fit issues occur.

Day 1

Picking the pattern
To make the sloper, we're using one of two fitting shells: Butterick 5746 or Vogue 1004. I chose the Vogue pattern because it was the one on sale at the time. Both patterns are very similar - if not identical. The Vogue pattern has one view with a CF zipper, back shoulder darts, and back/front vertical and horizontal darts. The Vogue pattern also includes different cup sizes; I don't know if Butterick the same.


The Butterick pattern has an additional view for reasons that I don't know. As you can see, view A is the same as the Vogue pattern.


Taking measurements
We had to take a series of measurements on both the body and on the pattern:
  • bust point: distance from the neckline (resting place for simple necklace) to the bust point
  • full bust: circumference around the fullest part of the bust
  • full front: length around fullest part of the bust from approximate side to side
  • waist: circumference at natural waist
  • abdomen: all the extra fluff (about 2" below natural waist)
  • waist front: length from neckline over the bust point to the natural waist
  • waist back: length from neckline to the waist at the center back
  • shoulder to elbow: length from shoulder joint to elbow, arm slightly bent
  • shoulder to wrist: length from shoulder joint to wrist bone (or desired equivalent)
  • shoulder depth: length from neckline to shoulder joint
  • shoulder width (front): length from joint to joint
  • shoulder width (back): length from mid armhole to mid armhole across the back
  • bicep: circumference around fullest part of the upper arm
After identifying these measurements on the pattern, I created a chart that compares both sets of numbers. The instructor suggests that we use 2 inches of fit ease at the bust and full hip and 1 inch of ease at the waist.

The biggest observation I had was the difference between the full front measurements.

Body Meas.


Needed for Pattern

Actual Pattern Meas.


full bust






full front






(*omitted data)

If I use the FB measurement, I have to make an FBA of 0.875 inches (one-half of 1.75). This adjustment would not have been enough because there is a 4-inch difference between my body and the pattern's full front measurements (no wonder my FBAs never quite worked). Even though I have a broad back, more than half of my FB measurement comes from the front. The instructor said that we'll adjust to match the FF measurement and remove extra width from the back. I am not quite certain why we are removing extra width from the back, but the instructor assured me that this is what needs to happen. Since she's the one with 30+ years of experience, I assume she knows what she's talking about. =)

In the next class, we will make adjustments to the pattern according to our comparison chart and prepare to sew the first muslin.

On Snoop Shopping...
Thank you all for commenting. I like to read/see how others approach sewing and fitting and it's nice to learn about your experiences.

Heather asked: "That brown Muse-like dress looks hot on you, Lynnelle -- did you wind up sewing the Butterick 5353?"

No, I didn't make the Muse dress. After several muslins, I couldn't get the neck yoke to behave properly. I ended up making Simplicity 2648; my review is here.


  1. Now this is fascinating ... and I'll be following along. It also sounds like I need many more measurements!

  2. Lynn is the class at Habermans? Sounds like there is the potential to get quite a bit out of this class. I hope it helps with your woven blouse!

  3. I will be following your progress closely. Last year I finaly was able to get a dress sloper done. It is a lot of work, however in the end its worth it.

  4. Nice! I've always wanted to take an 8 week class like that! Good luck, but I'm sure you'll end up with a fantastic result!

  5. I can't wait to see your end results with this. I started having a lot more success with fitting when I started thinking outside of the box and blending sizes in combination with a more-normal-sized FBA. You're going to love having woven blouses that fit!

  6. I bought a sloper pattern to but don't know what in the world to do with it. When you get your's down pat, will you please teach me what to do with mine???

    I agree with you that the foot looks broken. I use to have a broken plastic foot that worked wonders. If I hooked the fabric around the broken part just right it actually created a wonderful narrow hem.

  7. The thing with slopers is I keep looking at them and thinking 'how hard can it be' then I read all the maths and end up totally confused. In my head its a simple as pining it on yourself and pinching out darts I don't get where all the calculations fit in.


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate and read them all - even if I can not personally respond.


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