Last week, we mentioned that we've been working on our first patterns, and that we've been getting our slopers set up. But what does that mean?
A sloper, or body, or block, is a master pattern from which other patterns can be created. It is a basic fitted shell, which has basically no interesting design features, but has fitting darts for all the right spots. This allows us to avoid starting from scratch every time we make a new pattern, and we can be sure that the resulting design will come close to fitting the same way each time.
Once a design is considered to be complete, the designed pattern is then sized up and down, to give a fuller size range, in a process called grading. It's only possible to grade a pattern by a few sizes, however, before it begins to distort and fit oddly. This is why many clothing and pattern companies seem to have a limited size range—if the final pattern is a size 8, for example, it can be graded down to 6, 4, and 2, and graded up to 10, 12, and 14, giving a full size range of 2-14.
So, to make a large range of clothing sizes, multiple patterns will need to be made and graded, which can become costly and time consuming. At Fig + Needle, having an extended size range is one of our top priorities. We have two slopers, one with a 34" full bust (C/D cup), which will create the smaller size range, and another with a 48" full bust (DD/E cup), to create the larger sizes.
As we test our patterns with real people (more on that in April!), we may make some adjustments. Either way we'll be posting update and eventually an official size chart with explanations on how to select the best size to fit your body!