About the class...

In this class, we will be creating a 'sloper' (a word for any basic pattern without seam allowances) based on your measurements, which we will use to sew up a 'fitting shell' or 'muslin' to make more precise changes. We will then make basic adjustments to this pattern to create a custom fit dress pattern. Students will then have time to begin sewing and potentially complete their custom fit dress.

How this page works...

This is the syllabus for your class!  Bookmark or print out this syllabus as it has important information about supplies. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of helpful links and PDF's of the materials used in class. I created this page so that students would have all the information for this class accessible to them without wading through emails and hanging on to pieces of paper.

Materials List...

For the Sloper:

  • 2 1/2 - 3* yards of muslin fabric for fitting the pattern. %100 cotton is best. Muslin is available at JP Knit & Stitch at a 10% discount.
  • A pencil and 2 different color felt tip pens (eg: black and red). Sharpies work great.
  • An L Square or clear grid quilting ruler at least 18" long. (I recommend this ruler or this ruler. It is a good investment if you are interested in exploring pattern making or even just for general sewing or drawing.)
  • A square to draw 90 degree angles if you do not have an L square (optional)
  • French curve (optional)
  • Your usual sewing supplies (pins, scissors, measuring tape)
  • Safety Pins (at least 10)

For the final dress:

  • 2 1/2 - 3* yards of a fabric of your choice. This dress will work well in many types of fabric, including most printed cottons. Please avoid knits & stretch fabrics or lightweight fabric like voile/lawn or silk.
  • Matching thread
  • 3 yds of 1/2" single fold or 1/2" double fold bias tape for finishing the neckline/armholes.
  • 16" all purpose zipper

*If you are tall, or plan on making a dress that hits lower than the knee, purchase 3 yards.


What to expect in this intensive

(please read as it contains important information!)


Saturday 10am-4pm

Please come dressed appropriately for taking accurate measurements!

For best results,  wear or bring clothing that is closely fitting but not too tight. Overly tight or loose clothing will result in distorted measurements and require more fitting in the long run. The best thing to wear would be stretch pants or leggings (that are not too tight) and a fitted t-shirt or camisole. Also, be sure to wear whatever style of bra you wear most often.

What we will cover in class:

  • How to properly take body measurements
  • All about ease & fit
  • Drafting the bodice and skirt slopers onto muslin
  • Sewing together the muslin dress

Sunday 10am-4pm

What we will cover in class:

  • Trying on the muslin and making fit changes
  • Changing neckline, hem length, and skirt style
  • Turning the muslin into a pattern
  • Layout, cutting, and sewing the dress (Students may not finish in class, but will leave with all necessary information)
  • Turning the adjusted muslin into a paper pattern.

We will have light snacks available during the class. Each day we will break for lunch between 12-1. Feel free to bring your own lunch - we have a small kitchen with a fridge, microwave, and toaster. There are also several restaurants/cafes as well as Whole Foods within walking distance.

Resources, Links, and Downloads

Here are a few links to hopefully help you along your way in future altering and pattern making!

Pattern Alterations Here is the article on using a sloper to alter a commercial pattern to your measurements and proportions that we covered in class. I have also attached the written instructions: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4498/the-merits-of-a-basic-fitting-pattern/page/all

Sloper Drafting Instructions: Other Methods Here is a link to yet another sloper drafting system you might want to try out: http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/constructing-the-basic-bodice-block

Here is another method to try if you like: http://www.leenas.com/English/draw_patterns.html

Here is yet another set of sloper instructions I came across that might be fun to try out: http://www.madalynne.com/the-block-pattern

Here is a sleeve sloper from the same woman as the bodice sloper above: http://www.madalynne.com/how-to-draft-a-sleeve-patter

Here is the method for draping a skirt sloper we used in class:


For continuity’s sake, I have also scanned the sleeve instructions from the book we used in class. You can find it below.

The book we used for the draft is called Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin. It is VERY retro, so if any of you are interested in 'vintage' style this uses the method we discussed for moving darts to create intricate designs, and also covers drafting sleeves, collars, jackets, etc. The text can be a little bit outdated (we’ve come a long way, ladies!) but is also a very fun and accessible pattern design method. The book is out of print and goes for $100+ on Amazon. I have a seen PDF versions (which are often ‘restored’) go for around $20. You can also find the PDF shared online.

If you are interested in pattern making and design, you should be able to approach most beginners books with the knowledge gained in this class. Let me know if you would like any other book recommendations.

Downloads of the material covered in class

Sleeve Pattern from the book used in class

Sloper Measurement Chart

Sloper Drafting Instructions: Front & Back

Muslin Making Instructions      **UPDATED 1/21/15**

Dress Sewing Instructions

Please post below or email taymcvay(at)gmail.com with any questions.