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Draft a Customized Skirt Sloper

The building block for your own designs

In fashion design, the pattern you start with is called a sloper, or block pattern. It is made to fit you without any flare at the hem and it runs the length of your body from your true waist to the top of your knee.

You will use your sloper as the starting point for all the designs in this book. If you use the sloper to sew a skirt exactly as you draft it, without any design changes, you’ll create a straight or pencil skirt.

It is important to understand the concept of “ease.” Because your body is dimensional and patterns are flat, you need to add wearing ease or darts to your skirt patterns to duplicate your body shape. You draft a basic sloper from your measurements and then use ease or darts to create shape and design.


The skirt pattern is drafted by drawing half of the skirt front and half of the skirt back. If you’re new to sewing with patterns, take a look at the photograph on page 63 so you can see what you’re working toward. Don’t worry if your slopers don’t match the diagrams exactly; everyone’s skirt pattern looks slightly different due to different measurements.

For the sloper, you will draft 1″-wide darts in the back and ½”-wide darts in the front. These are fairly standard widths, but can be adjusted as needed.

1. Draw two boxes.

Draw two boxes next to each other using the measurements as indicated in the illustration. One box is half of the skirt front and the other box is half of the skirt back. I like to draw the center line (which becomes the side seam)
and work outward, but you can draw your lines any way you’d like. Plot the measurements on the next page, one line at a time. Each key measurement is color coded in the illustrations.

½ of back hip (D–2) measurement + ½” for ease _____________________
½ of front hip (D–1) measurement + ½” for ease _____________________
Front waist to hip (E–1) ______________________________________________
Front waist to knee (F) ______________________________________________
Back waist to hip (E–2) ______________________________________________

On the center back, measure from the hipline up and add a hash mark to indicate this measurement. This mark can be above or below the top (waist) line, depending on your measurements.

Ease is extra room built into the pattern to allow for comfort and movement.

Darts in skirts are typically triangular in shape and located at the waistline. Drafting darts into your pattern allows your garment to follow the contours and curves of your body. The basic skirt sloper has two darts on each side, in both the front and back, for a total of eight darts in the finished skirt.

note : If you are athletic- or straightshaped, with less than a 7″ difference in circumference between your waist and hips, you might only need one dart on your front and back patterns. Don’t worry; this isn’t incorrect. It just means that you are slightly less curvy than standard measurements. How to draft one dart instead of two.

Draw two boxes

2. Draft the waistline and side seams.

½ of back waist (C–2) + 2¼” (for two 1″ darts + ease) __________________
Measure this distance from the center back along the top line and make a hash mark. If this measurement goes beyond your side seam don’t worry; in that case you should draft one dart instead of two (add 1¼” instead of 2¼”).

½ of front waist (C–1) + 1¼” (for two ½” darts + ease) __________________
Measure this distance from the center front along the top line and make a hash mark. If this measurement goes beyond your side seam, don’t worry; draft one dart instead of two (add ¾” instead of 1¼”).

side waist to hips (G) _________________________________________________
Use your hip curve ruler to draw in the new curved side seams, starting 2″ above the hipline and going upward to (and possibly through) the hash mark. Typically this curved line will reach slightly above the top edge of the box.

Draw in the new waistline by using your curve to join the new sideseam hash marks to the center front and center back. For the center back, make sure to draw the curve to the hash mark, not just to the top of the box.

TIP : Make sure to draft square corners (90-degree angles) at each side seam and at the center front and center back. See Drafting Corners on the opposite page.

Draft the waistline and side seams


When drafting a pattern, there are a few corners that should always be right angles to ensure they look straight on your body. Those corners on a skirt are typically the top and bottom edge of both the center front and center back, and the top and bottom corners of each side seam.

To do this, simply align the corner of your straight ruler with the skirt’s vertical line. Then trace the right angle from ruler’s adjoining edge for ¼”. Blend this corner into the curved skirt edge.

Drafting Corners

3. Plot the darts.

Draw the first registration line for the back dart 2¾” in from the center back. Draw the second line for that first dart 1″ away from the first line.

Draw the first registration line for the front dart 3″ in from the center front. Draw the second line for that first dart ½” away from the first line.

Draw lines for the second darts in both the front and back, 1¼” away from the first. (If you are very curvy, space your back darts 1½” apart.) Draw the second lines for the second darts ½” away from the first line for the front dart and 1″ away from the first line for the back dart.

Plot the darts

4. Draft the darts.

Draw a registration line through the center of each dart and measure down that line from the top edge of the skirt (not the box) as follows: 5½” for the back dart closest to the center back and 3½” for all the other darts. Draw the dart legs.

Draft the darts

5. True up the top edges of the darts.

a) Once the darts are drafted, you’ll need to true them up. This is so the top edge of the skirt will be even once the darts are sewn and pressed in the correct direction.

b) To true a dart, fold the paper along the dart markings just as you would if you were working with the fabric version. Crease the paper along the dart leg and the center line, and then fold the dart’s excess toward the center of the garment. If the markings for the top of the skirt don’t match, blend them so they align perfectly (shown in red).

Trim across the top edge of the folded dart so it is even across the top edge of the sloper. When you unfold the pattern, there should be a slight peak at the center of the dart.

True up the top edges of the darts - Test the sloper

6. Test the sloper.

Before you use your sloper to design a skirt, you need to test that it fits your body. Refer to Making a Test Skirt (Muslin) on the next page and then transfer any fit changes from the marked test skirt to the slopers.

Source :
SKIRT-A-DAY SEWING Create 28 Skirts
For A Unique Look Every Day
Nicole Smith