Party in the back: skirt sloper

This weekend, I was scrounging around for something to wear to a wedding. I was considering my MOH dress but I just don’t love how it looks on me. There’s something about the depth of the v-neck and the arm scyes I need to fix, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet.

After I’d run through my closet, I moved on to my fabrics, I found myself lingering on an intensely wonderful cotton sateen print I found earlier this year. (You may have seen it on Instagram when I was publicly wondering what to make with it.) After I’d considered a shift, a sheath, pants and a bomber jacket, the fabric demanded suddenly and unequivocally to be an A-line skirt.


The only trouble is I don’t actually have an A-line skirt pattern. I briefly considered a truncated Gabriola like this one from Fadanista, but I didn’t want the gores and wasn’t sure exactly how to de-flare it. And I’ve meant to make a skirt sloper ever since I finished my bodice sloper (which I’ve never blogged about it…) so I went the self-drafting route.

Reviewing my measurements made me glad I’d chosen to self-draft, particularly the front/back waist and hip arcs. These measurements are important because they divide the front half from the back half, and provide more info about how a circumference is distributed. I’m rectangular from the front and basically a Kardashian from the back; most of my waist width is in the front, and most of my hip width is not actually from the hips at all but from the rear.

My drafting manual – Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Pattern Making for Fashion Design- details measurements for standard sizes, and my arc measurements are all over the chart. This certainly explains all the fit problems I’ve ever had with my lower half, which has always baffled me because my waist/hip measurements put me in a single size in most commercial patterns.

So here’s my sloper – I got decent results pretty quickly, to my great surprise! It was much, much easier than the bodice sloper. (Please enjoy the grainy phone photos.) | skirt sloper

I took the author’s advice for swayback figures and made one small dart in the front with two larger ones in the back. These pictures are of my second muslin; I moved the back darts after seeing my first muslin. If I were working on a pencil skirt, I would fine-tune them some more, but time is limited and I think this is a fine place to draft an A-line skirt from. | skirt sloper

The waist isn’t quite level, but I think my waist itself might be tilted. I may lower the front a bit and blend towards the back. I adjusted the side seams on the third muslin; it’s hard to see in the photo below, but they were swinging forward. | skirt sloper

Fingers crossed I get the skirt finished it in time for the wedding! Even if I don’t, I’m already psyched about the possibilities of having a skirt sloper.


55 thoughts on “Party in the back: skirt sloper

  1. Looks like a great fit! I have been meaning to revisit my skirt sloper and consider front/back weighting like you did. Quite a scary prospect as I think I’m basically S-shaped from the side, so not ready to open that can of worms just yet!

    1. Yah, I was surprised by how quickly I got a decent result – wayyy easier than the bodice! I was just thinking about the sloper class you did; it’s awesome that you did all your blocks in one go and now you can just work on improvements.

  2. Great work on the sloper – something that you’ll use over and over again. And that fabric is stunning! Definitely worthy of the extra work to get the fit right.

  3. That fabric is sooooooooo pretty. Whatever you make with it will be gorgeous! What’s the plan for on top?

    1. It’s pretty close to your color palette, isn’t it? I wanted to keep the design as simple as possible to show off the fabric! I’m planning on wearing a camisole I sewed from a 70s/80s pattern (wearing it here but it’s hard to see!). If I end up with some extra time (ha!), I may re-make it in a blue silk.

  4. i think making your own slopers is the way to go. This skirt is already looking terrific. I’ve been experimenting with skirts and pants too and have done a jeans sloper now and some lovely wide legged pants. So looking forward to seeing your finished skirt. Oh, and thanks for the mention 😀

  5. Fascinating — I’ve recently begun to suspect that my hip measurement comes mostly from my behind. I might not make a full-on sloper, but it would definitely affect how I choose sizes. (And maybe I’d start doing a different kind of FBA — full butt adjustment.) Thanks for sharing this!

    1. That’s an interesting idea – kind of like choosing your size based on your upper bust rather than your full bust if you’re well-endowed!

      Not to tempt you, but making a skirt sloper was faster and easier than I’d anticipated.

  6. You did a great job with the fit here. I love the idea of having two darts in the back. And I completely agree that the skirt sloper is way easier than the bodice! I did the bodice first and then was blown away by how quick and easy the skirt was. Can’t wait to see the finished skirt – that fabric is to die for. Just gorgeous!

    1. I almost can’t take any fitting credit because the book method just happened to work well for me, unlike her bodice sloper – I ended up switching Madalynne’s tutorial!

      Do you have any sloper projects you’re dreaming of at the moment?

  7. That sateen is gorgeous. I would have turned it into a math skirt, but an a-line will also be lovely (and I’m guessing you’re not a huge fan of a ton of pleats and pouffiness).

    Skirt slopers are so much easier than other kinds of slopers! I’ve been banging my head against a pants sloper for so long now.

    1. Ha good guess! I tend to feel overly padded in pleats and pouf, especially in the back, although I concur this fabric would have made a stunning math skirt.

      What’s up with your pants sloper?

      1. Oh–just trying to get a crotch curve in the back that is long enough for me to sit down without bisecting myself, yet doesn’t swath my upper thighs in pant legs big enough to sail a yacht. Two steps forward one step back. The usual, probably.

      2. Man, that area is a mystery to me, too. My most recent pair of straight-legged jeans – made with slightly stretchy denim – look excellent for 4-8 hours and then create an enormous bubble-shaped dome when I’m not sitting. So I commiserate, although I will also take this opportunity to chuckle at the thought of your excess leg fabric making you a sea-worthy vessel!

  8. Yes. THIS. I need to make a skirt sloper pronto, because EVERY DRESS I make fits like a dream in the front and looks like a craft project in the back. It’s good to know 1) I’m not weird/alone for having junk in the trunk and 2) the adjustment is fairly straightforward.

    1. Nice to hear I’m using what the professionals use! My only complaint is that her focus is on industry and standard sizes much more than personalized measurements – but that’s the book’s focus, and she covers an absolutely astounding array of designs.

  9. The fit looks great! I’m about the same as you, most of my hip measurement comes from my backside. I’ve been experimenting with choosing a size about 2″ smaller than my hip measurement, then uh… FBA-ing the back. Haven’t done it enough to vouch for that method, but the logic seems sound. Can’t wait to see your skirt, that fabric is gorgeous!

    1. Ah, interesting method! It makes intuitive sense to me – it’s not the frame/hips that are big, so the larger size isn’t actually appropriate. I’d love to hear more about how it works for you over time!

  10. I would love to make myself slopers so I can do a bit more experimenting but I have no idea where to start. It is annoying because whenever I have an idea of something to sew I need to find a pattern that matches. It would be cool to know how to make them myself. Can’t wait to see how your skirt turns out! That fabric is gorgeous.

    1. I say go for it! I really struggled my way through the bodice sloper and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got a good-enough result on the skirt – I think it would be a great place to start.

  11. I love seeing the adjustments over the three iterations- looking pretty good so far! And yes to an a-line! That fabric is simply begging to be made up 😀

    1. Thanks, Amanda – I’m getting there! Since I’m not a pencil skirt fan, I’m seriously wondering how much I’ll go back and fine-tune those back darts… maybe a cute mini skirt idea will push me forward.

  12. This is going to look so great! I remember when you posted abut that fabric on instagram – I got instant fabric envy! I drafted a pencil skirt to my measurements when I just started sewing but for some reason never made one up, I really should revisit that sometime so thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks, Heather! It’s all trial and error combined with a decent drafting book. Have you thought of trying out some slopers? I think you would really enjoy the process given your focus on fit. I’m starting to wonder if fitting a pattern is much harder than drafting off a sloper…

  13. Nice! Thanks for sharing the photos, for some reason it can be so helpful to see someone else working through their fit issues. I’ve decided that my actual waist slopes forward in front, although I haven’t quite worked out how that relates to everything else … I’m in the “prominent derriere” club too and I agree, there’s no good way to say it!

    1. Sometimes I second-guess how interesting some of this stuff will be, then I remember how much I enjoy reading about it. Fitting the bust seems to get all the attention, but fitting the rear has got to be even more complicated – if only because you can’t see it quite as well!

      For some reason, the word “rump” never fails to make me chuckle…

  14. The sloper fit looks great! I just completed a skirt sloper after doing a bodice first and was so pleased with the quick results! I’ll have to check out that book, it sounds like a great reference. I used the Craftsy class for both slopers, bit I’m not 100% happy with my bodice one.

    1. Ah interesting – which class did you take? I’m always curious about different sloper-making methods. Sounds like there are a ton of options out there. Do you read Bloom’s Endless Summer? She’s been making a ton of sloper variations from a Craftsy class.

  15. I think you are off to a good start! I would love to see the finished skirt with the chosen print. Although I agree that the print looks so good with a bomber jacket, I can’t wait to see it being a skirt, too!

  16. I love reading about your drafting process. I have that book and need to redraft a skirt for myself one of these days. I’m also doing a bodice class on Craftsy. I look forward to see what you come u p with!

    1. Very cool! Shall I look forward to your self-drafted blazers…? I should mention that I had trouble with the bodice sloper in that book, just FYI, and used the method from Once you have a working sloper, though, that book is pretty comprehensive in terms of design possibilities.

  17. I completely commiserate with the party in the back problems. I love the tip about using two darts and will have to incorporate that next time I fit something back there. My go-to A line skirt pattern is from the Sew U built by Wendy book but there’s nothing earth shattering about it, its just one that’s worked most of the time for me (depending on the fabric choice, it can come out really different each time). I love the sateen, looks like a fun print to wear on a skirt!

    1. A basic pattern that fits well is solid gold! I have that book but have never actually tried any of the patterns – just used some of the jeans details like pockets.

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