A test skirt made from a sloper is often called a muslin, because slopers are traditionally made from this unbleached, inexpensive fabric. Here’s how you make one.
1). Fold your fabric along the lengthwise grain, so the fold is parallel to the selvages. Pin the slopers to the fabric with both the center front and the center back positioned on the fabric fold (so when you unfold the fabric you have a whole fabric front and a whole fabric back). Transfer all the markings from the slopers to your fabric, including the center front and back, hiplines, and dart legs. Add a 1″-wide seam allowance to the side seams, and the top and bottom edges. Make sure to draw all of the seamlines onto your fabric as well.
Note : You add wider than usual seam allowance in case you want to let out the seams for better fit.
2). Cut out your skirt front and back from the fabric.
3). Machine-stitch the darts and one side seam of your skirt; partially stitch the other side seam but leave the top open enough that you can get it on and off. In an actual skirt, the seam would be finished with a zipper, but that isn’t necessary on a test skirt.
Note : I like to assemble the entire muslin using temporary basting stitches so I can remove them quickly during fitting. I also like to use contrasting thread so the stitches are easily visible.
4). Try on the skirt and pin the side seam closed. Look for the following:
• Double-check that there aren’t pull lines across your hips (indicating that the skirt is too small), or sagging fabric (indicating that it is too large).
• If the skirt is too tight, let out the side seams using a seam ripper, and pin the new side seam to fit.
• If the skirt is too loose, pin out the excess. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the skirt.
• Make sure the skirt doesn’t gape at the waist and is contoured to fit your shape, and that the top edge of the skirt stays parallel to the floor. If necessary, mark a new waistline.
• The center-front and centerback marked lines should align with the center of your body. Each dart should end just shy of your fullest parts.
• A well-fitted skirt should have a hipline that runs straight across the body, parallel to the floor.
• Adjust the skirt length if desired. Double-check that the hemline is straight and the center front and back fall correctly.
Tip : Once you have perfected the fit of your sloper, you will use it repeatedly, putting it through plenty of wear and tear. Prolong the life of your sloper by tracing it onto and then cutting it from a sturdy paper such as oak tag or gridded plastic.
5). Mark any new seamlines with a marker or pencil right on the fabric. Use a different color than the one you used to mark the original lines.
6. Once all of the changes have been marked, resew the muslin following the new markings and using a basting stitch to double-check the fit. One of the greatest perks of custom-made clothes is perfect fit, so really take your time with this. This sloper will be the foundation for all of your future designs and you want them to fit perfectly. Once you’re happy with the fit, transfer all of the changes to the paper pattern, omitting all seam and hem allowances.
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