Written by George Clarke
Our basic sewing patterns (known as Pattern Blocks or Slopers) are ideal templates for producing styles of your own.
What are they?
A Sloper (an Americanism) or Block pattern as it is known in Europe, is a very basic pattern without any particular style feature or adornment. It even does not include seam allowances.
You can choose a sloper designed for the “average/proportionate” size or one for a specific set of measurements.
With those three above as templates, you can mix and match to create just about anything, e.g. Bodice+Skirt=Dress.
If you have got a Basic Block pattern to your own measurements (or a “standard” one if it fits you well) and used it to make a top without any changes – it would fit rather like a Speedo swimsuit, but with a little extra room to breathe. It will fit your height and girth and darts should shape the top to suit the position of your breasts.
Think of it as a sleek little sports car... A tight squeeze to get in but when you sit in the wrap-around seat with the seat belt on – you're going to feel very snug and secure as you fly around the bends.
Advanced (Developed) Slopers/Blocks
Of course, you don't have to start with Basic Sloper every time you make a garment.
Advanced Blocks are subsequent patterns created from the Basic ones, i.e.:
- new garment category;
- new silhouette;
- changed ease, etc.
They are still free from details and could be your templates for a number of projects. Thus, making a jacket or coat go for a jacket or coat block; leggings – for a leggings block; a dress – for a dress block.
You decide how many Advanced Blocks you might need.
What can I do with my Sloper/Block?
Think of it as a house... “That's difficult” I hear you say, but come on, try! You are meant to be an artisan, lots of imagination to dream up strange and wonderful creations. Can I continue?
So, you buy a house within your budget: very bland on the outside, big enough for your family of mum, dad, two kids and a dog – provided they are not in the same room at the same time – not enough room to swing a cat in the kitchen (no problem 'cos you have a dog).
So what can you do? You take in sewing alterations, young Jimmy can do a paper round, Samantha can wash up in the local cafe – and dad can go to the betting shop. THEN – you can build a porch on the front and plant wisteria (neighbours sick with jealousy), convert the garage into a bedroom and study for Jimmy, a conservatory at the back for your sewing machine, cutting table, ironing board etc, etc., a kennel in the garden for the dog – sorted.
See what you can do with a bit of imagination?! It's the same with your sloper. You get the basics right – then you go forward with confidence, making changes to ease, style etc., knowing that however ridiculous your new creation looks, at least it will fit you – so you can always wear it at the fancy-dress ball.
How to Get Sloper/Block Patterns?
Now let’s say, you’re completely sold on the idea of a sloper. How on earth do you go about getting one? You can draft your own, but I think it’s best to start out with a simpler route to focus on using the sloper first.