Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jeesh, slopers already.

I understand Ms. Fasanella's point about nubes and slopers and her precautions against looking like a dork when pursuing a career in the fashion industry. Luckily, no one would ever confuse my project for anything at all fashion-industry-y, so awaaaay we go!

Slopers, slopers, SLO-O-O-P-P-PERS.

At first glance, a sloper might seem like a dumb thing because it is essentially a pattern for a super boring plain shift with nothing useful at all about it including, but not limited to, seam allowances. It vaguely resembles a pattern, except that it's missing things like design details, anything that might make you want to wear it, and any indicators of what the hell you're supposed to do with it. And this is because it is the most basic prototype for the body you are designing for, for the design elements you feel bursting out of your designer head, for all those things that will require you to develop indicators of what the hell you're supposed to do to make a garment. Problem is, in order to make use of a sloper, it helps if you have some idea of what you're doing -- but that fun will come later.

So the first item of business is to take an assload of measurements. In certain phases of my past life, I dealt with a lot of charts like this, charts that make me feel a bit woozy about my ability to not screw up where numbers and accuracy are involved. It's considered an art form for a reason, right? The art of precise mechanical engineering. Where art and nuclear physics combine in a seductive, mind-numbing dance. But you need these measurements to make sure your final product, the sloper, is precise and useable. We'll use them to double-check our work as we go.

I was curious about the old-school method of drafting a sloper, and found this, which to me represents how NASA would approach garment design. I'm all for playing rocket scientist for an afternoon, but I'm not sure how the resulting garments might function if I were to rely too heavily on my math skillz. (Still, it's certainly a clearer description of the method than this, which makes me want to fling myself off the cliffs at Torrey Pines.)

Some techniques have you take a ready-made "fitting shell pattern," and adjust it according to all those measurements we took. I might look into this option, but I have a feeling I have the tendency to over fit things which might be amplified by this approach.

But then I came across this, and I think I like it. I will need to actually try it and all, but in theory it's awesome. It comes with its own measurement chart which Mr. Dude will helped me complete (before cocktail hour), and you just plug all those numbers in and click on a button and, voilĂ  - a pattern that will (sort of) work! From reviews it seems you still need to double check the measurements and fit it to yourself, but it sounds like you get a better result right off the bat than any commercial pattern will likely achieve. Once I have the pattern I will need to make a fitting shell out of it in an appropriate fabric, double checking it with my measurements, and fit it to my actual body. My O.G. pattern drafting books tell me that my fabric needs to be a heavy-ish muslin that I haven't washed the sizing out of, with a nicely squared weave straight off the bolt. I've got three giant boxes of fabric in my studio with nothing of the sort in any one of them. Seems I'm addicted to pre-washing fabric.

Off to buy muslin and a printer,
Ms. May

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