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LivingSoft Subscriber Newsletter | Volume 12

Dress Shop Tip of the Month

Would you like to understand how each individual measurement affects the shape of your pattern?  How you can make your shoulder lines come a little farther out without changing the angle of the shoulder line?  How to change your bodice so the shoulder seams are a little further forward?  How to give yourself a longer front armhole depth without adding to the back armhole depth which is fine? 

Here’s a simple way you can begin to understand how the different measurements impact the pattern, what measurements you might have to change to achieve a certain result, and how changing one measurement will change another measurement.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to select a standard size to work with.  Try for example Women’s Size 12.  It doesn’t matter which size you pick, really, even if you’re far from a size 12.  You’re only looking at how the measurements interrelate.  You can apply what you learn to your own patterns later. 

Draft a set of slopers for this standard size, and print them in quarter scale.  Write “original” on the pages.

Now comes the interesting part.

Change ONE measurement and then reprint your sloper patterns (if the measurement you changed is above the waist, only print your bodice front, back and sleeve, if the measurement you changed is below the waist only reprint your pant front and back).  Write on the printout the changed measurement (for instance, Shoulder Length +1”).  Then take the new printout and overlay each page over the corresponding original, and see what has changed.

Each time you change a measurement, you’ll see how that measurement affects the pattern.  Some might surprise you.  For instance, adding 1” to the Shoulder Length measurement will NOT extend your shoulder line at the end of your shoulder.  Instead, it will extend the line at the neck, making your neck opening narrower.  Notice also that the angle of the shoulder becomes less sloped, more squared.  This is because you’re trying to put a longer line into a space which is no taller than before (the full length measurement remained constant, as did all other measurements).

A lot of people might have thought that the shoulder length measurement controls how wide the shoulder seams travel down the edge of the shoulder, but the experiment you just tried demonstrated otherwise.

Let’s try something else.  Set the Shoulder Length back to the original number, and increase the Across Shoulder Front by 1”.  When you print (remembering to note the measurement change on the page) and overlay, you’ll see that THIS change made the shoulder seams draft wider out on the body on the bodice front.  But the shoulder angle is more sloped, and the neck opening is wider.

Experiment with every measurement.  You’ll see many results you expect, and others you didn’t.

Now try changing multiple measurements at once.  Add 1” to Across Shoulder Front and Across Shoulder Back, and Add 1” to the Shoulder Length.  Print, overlay and compare.  Evaluate the results.

Anyone who wants to be a professional Dress Shop measurer should understand the relationship between each individual measurement and the sloper patterns.  Beyond that, an understanding of how the measurements work together to create certain shapes and results is invaluable.

But even if you never intend to measure professionally, and you just want to have the capacity to measure and fit a family member or even occasionally test-fit your own sloper when your body changes, knowledge of how the measurements interrelate to shape the patterns is useful to know.


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