It will be hard for anyone except me to appreciate the beauty of this project! But all of us who love to sew travel the never-ending road in search of the perfect fitting garment. Our weight fluctuates, we age, styles change, we fall in and out of love with our bodies and want to show off or camouflage them accordingly...all of these things come into play when it comes to fit. I've been studying Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto and think it is the best approach for getting a great fit. I embarked upon the odyssey by purchasing the pattern they recommend to make a fitting shell from McCall's 2718, and followed both the book and the pattern directions to make my fitting shell and construct my sloper.
As they point out, very seldom, if ever, will we wear a garment as close-fitting as the fitting shell. It is virtually like a second skin, with a minimum of ease built in. Based on my upper bust measurement I used a size 12 pattern and modified as needed. The pattern comes with 5 different cup sizes for the bodice from A to DD. I needed the latter. The patterns that we purchase are based on a B cup size. I don't even think I had a B cup at birth...
Aside from grading the waist and hips out, the most significant things I learned from this process were that I need both a wide back adjustment as well as an erect back adjustment. The process is incredibly interesting as adjustments become noticeable based on the wrinkles formed.
|The erect back adjustment can be seen as the horizontal tuck above the bodice darts. |
Without the tuck a wrinkle formed there...very interesting discovery!
The pattern is first "tissue fitted" which is preparing the pattern with tape and pins and then it is literally "tried on" to see how we vary from the basic pattern size. After making paper adjustments a shell is cut from 1/4" gingham. Further fitting is done on the shell and then markings are transferred back to the paper pattern. This amended paper pattern is your body's "roadmap" and becomes a sloper that can then be compared to any fashion pattern taking the guesswork out of your sewing projects.
The premise of this exercise is that skirt + bodice = dress. The skirt is easy enough to fit on your own but you will really need to enlist a friends help with the bodice. I didn't require any further alteration to the bodice front other than the cup size. Below is a picture of the bodice back showing the 1/2" broad back adjustment that I will make as well as the marking for the erect back adjustment.
|The broad back adjustment is the vertical pleat marked with red dashes. The erect back adjustment is the horizontal red mark at the top of the back dart. It begins as a 1/4" pleat and tapers off to nothing toward the arm.|
As Pati and Marta point out, depending on the amount of ease that your planned garment allows, some, none or all of the adjustments on your sloper will be used. Once you have made this ultra-close fitting shell from your sloper, anything with more ease will be a breeze. When complete I intend to bond fusible interfacing to my sloper so I will have a permanent pattern showing how my body differs from the standard patterns of the Big 4. I highly recommend this process as a way to get to know your body's roadmap and have more great fitting garments!