Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Slopers and Flat Tires

My friend Jessie has been patiently waiting for a while now for some instructions on how to make a sloper. Well, I'm finally getting around to it and thought I should share with everyone.

It's only fair to note that I'm not a professional and I've never received paid instruction in this.  I have spent countless hours scouring books, websites, and other materials to learn most of the sewing skills I have (except the basics, of course, which I learned at home as a child). And then I've tested out many of these concepts at home to make sure I understood them fully. I'd also like to note that I'm not a very good teacher.

Ok, first off, what is a sloper?  A sloper (sometimes called a block) is a very basic, very fitted garment used to make a flat/ paper pattern that will fit exactly to the wearer's measurements.   

There are commercially available patterns that can help with this process, but you don't strictly need one.  If I can find it again, I'm hoping to post a video below that has you making a sloper on your dress form, you don't need that either, but the technique she shows is good.  What you do need: a bunch of pins, a couple yards of muslin, a pencil or pen, scissors, and a straight edge (though if you have a square of some sort, something that will assure you a 90 degree angle that will be very helpful).  

There is one more thing you'll need if you don't have a dress form: a mirror.  I just set out my full-length mirror (one of those stick-to-the-back-of-the-door kinds) in the living room, propped up so I could see myself in it.

Ok, watch this video:

Now, instead of pinning to a dressform you'll be using yourself.  Wear your usual bra and a fairly snug shirt that comes up close to your neck.  Instead of pinning to yourself (lol) you'll of course be pinning to the shirt you're wearing.  There is a lot of pinning, unpinning, marking, and re-pinning so you'll want to make sure that when you re-pin you're re-pinning to the same spot.

you get the idea...

There are some things that I do differently than the video:

(1) I use a pencil for marking. I only use marker for marking if I am using plastic to make my pattern (yeah, I do this sometimes; I'm weird.) Keep in mind, whatever you choose to mark with, that you're marking toward yourself while wearing a shirt that you may or may not want to have ink on.

(2) I wait to remove any excess fabric or make slashes/ cuts in the fabric till I've un-pinned the fabric from myself. This keeps me from both cutting my shirt or stabbing myself accidentally.

For the front you should end up with something that looks vaguely like this.

i've drawn in the lines a little better so you could see them

I'll need to smooth out the lines a little and shift the waist dart over slightly so I can easily convert this to a princess-seam, but other than that, it's ready.  Where you have your darts is up to you.  For this one I did a dart that goes into the armhole but if you prefer you can take the dart from the side.  It's easy enough to move a dart around and Sunni's done a nice job illustrating it over at A Fashionable Stitch.

The back, admittedly, is much harder to do alone than the front.  Be patient with yourself.  Make sure you get the center back pinned at the center back. Make sure you get that center back line straight up and down.  The rest is the same as the front, but without the hassle of boobage.


I made two separate slopers: one for when I'm wearing my corset, and one for when I'm wearing more modern undergarments.  I was dismayed when I put them on my dress form how very off my dress form was to any shape resembling me.  It sure explains why I sometimes have trouble converting what I've draped on the form into something that fits me, even though all of the measurements on the form matched mine.


Ok, from here you have the front and back of a sleeveless sloper. You can go from here to add in the hips just like you did with the bodice.  You can even add in sleeves, but I do mine weirdly so I don't think that would help you much.  Sleeves are fairly standard so if you can find a pattern piece from a store-bought pattern that fits you/ your sloper well it's probably easiest to go with that.  

You'll want to transfer your sloper pattern to whatever you like to use for pattern paper (tissue, pattern mesh, wrapping paper, junk mail... whatever). Just make sure it is something where you can clearly see your markings.  I've found it is helpful to mark it with the date, too.

I'm sure I've missed some important, life-altering bit so feel free to pepper me with questions (Jessie: here or on fb either one ^_^).

In other news...
not our tire or our car but you get the idea

I got a call from my husband just as he got to work on Monday. He had a flat tire. Not a huge deal on a normal day but we're both still fighting off whatever illness we've picked up that is going around, so we're both pretty tired.  Then I got a call from him a little later.  He had gone out on his break and jacked the car up, and then at lunch had started changing the wheel.  Lug nuts came off fine, but the wheel wouldn't budge.  I've seen this happen before and I knew exactly what to do: you kick it, hard.  But the wheel wasn't having it.

Figuring that with being sick, and the heat (it's been a little hotter than usual here lately), and having already hurt his hands, maybe the wheel just needed two people to wrench it loose.

hiding underneath: some nasty blisters and missing chunks of skin

Well, we kicked, beat, pushed, and pulled on the wheel before going to the auto parts store near where my husband works and buying a rubber mallet & tried beating on the wheel with that. Didn't budge.  

That's when we called my mom. If I have even half of the mechanical know-how and intuition that my mom does, I'd be happy.  Anyhow, she gave us this wonderful trick, and I'm putting it here because maybe someone else will be helped by it some time.

(the following is mostly my mom's words)
The wheel was seized to the hub. Especially on the front wheels of a front wheel drive car, all that heating and cooling can cause the metals to bond. The trick is to tap it loose without damaging the wheel or the drum. Sometimes a kick to the side of the rim will do it. If you must use a hammer, lay a 2x4 across the wheel first. 

They got theirs loose by putting the lug nuts back on and then backing them off a 1/2 turn. Then they eased forward and back a few feet and jammed on the brakes. This will usually pop it loose safely. Turning the wheel can help too. But a couple of cautions - a flat tire is easily damaged. Also, don't get too rough or loosen the lugs too much or you risk breaking a lug bolt. You just need a little play and the weight of your car and physics takes care of the rest. :-)

Five seconds with mom's forward-and-brake trick and it popped right off. But at least now we own a nice big rubber mallet. 

mine. all mine.

Super glad we got the road hazard package when we bought his tires. Thanks to the constant road construction on the highway between home & work we've used it several times & has saved us $. Anyhow, hope this tip helps you at some point in the future. (Of course I also hope none of us has the need for it!)

Hope your week is going well!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This is really usefull. Sorry to hear of your car tyre troubles. Glad it is all sorted now.


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