A Sleeveless Sloper for Woven Fabrics

I was a little disappointed in my HAF of the 3 PAC. Oh it’s lovely and will be worn. The fit was OK. Just OK. A real pleasure in sewing for yourself is the ability to go beyond OK fit into excellent and perfect. My silk  HAF surprised me in that only a week before I easily fit it for an ITY knit. I expected the same ease of fitting. The fit around the neckline and armscyes was never really good. Despite several tweaks, It was just OK. There comes a point when you can decide to accept the fit as is or decide to ruin the fabric by continuing to pinch and pull.  I decided the silk was good enough and would return (after the 3 PAC was finished and posted)  to the question of fitting the HAF with a woven fabric.

For that project, I chose a 100% cotton blouse fabric. Traced a new copy of the HAF and added 1/2″ along the shoulder to give me a little play room. I tweaked the HAF 12 times. A full dozen fittings although the changes were small, 1/8″, each time there came a point when I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. The woven cotton just wasn’t going to drape around the neck and armscye as I wanted.

Stumped, I rethought the process. I’ve been struggling with fitting sleeveless tops for a while. Short while, but nonetheless, this is not my first rodeo i.e. sleeveless fitting effort.  I had several Connie Crawford sleeveless patterns I wanted to use but never do because her approach to sleeveless was too simplistic in my mind.  Connie says that if you want her pattern to be sleeveless all you need do is pinch the side seam under the arm until you are satisfied. This just does not jive with my what I’ve learned previously. My recollection is that a sleeved bodice is created by dropping the armscye depth 1/2-3/4″, extending the shoulder 1/4″ and adding ease across the upper bodice both back and front to facilitate movement within the sleeve.  My recollection is of a complex process where Connie says it’s a quick pinch. My mind immediately rejects her idea but I’m not making any headway following what I know. I decide to copy the front and back of my sleeved sloper developed from CC1201.   I just used it for the Golden Apricot top  and know it fits reasonably well. I decided I wanted  a front button opening which is already included on my sloper.  I turned to my stash of Under 2 yard fabrics and selected a 100% Linen purchased last year from FashionFabricsClub.com  I raided their remnants and found a plaid comprised of cream, my yellows and two greens. Those aren’t my greens but (spoiler alert) when finished the blouse works with the green bottoms I was sewing last year, a yellow cotton PP113 pant and several tops. When finished I’ll have a 6PAC!  Although I have but 1.5 yards of 52″ wide fabric I mange to cut the front and back and match the plaids for the front facing. I’ll use commercial bias tape for the back neckline and armscyes.

Shown with my black DG2 jeans, but this blouse works wonderfully with several of my existing garments.

I started by removing the shoulder height added for shoulder pads. I like shoulder pads. I use very small 1/4″ or 3/8″ pads just enough to give myself a youthful lift. But I don’t think they work with sleeveless tops. I basted the shoulders and sides together and tweaked the shoulder slope until the neckline wanted to stand away from the neck. Then I tweaked the bust dart and underarm trying to remove all the drag lines in the upper bodice and along the side.  The Linen fabric reveals that my sloper is 1/2″ too small in back and 1/4″ too large in front. I can correct the front but the back remains just a tisch small. I used the back vertical darts. The front vertical darts were reduced to a 1/8″ pin tuck which I extended all the way to the hem.  The front wanted to flare. I wanted the flare controlled.

I added 5 buttons but I’m not really happy with them.  I think the first button should be placed at the fullest part of the bust. The button above is then placed to the desired neckline depth. The other buttons are then spaced according to what was just established.  I couldn’t get the top button properly positioned. It’s either making the neckline too high or too close to the first button hole. I dont’ want to space my remaining buttons 1.5″ or less apart.   I doubt that I ever close the top button .  It’s too high for summer weather.  I spaced the other buttonholes 2.5″ apart because that’s the distance between the top button and the button at the fullest. I should have added 1 more button at the bottom but I didn’t have another. Sigh. It is what it is– which is something I need to reconsider the next go round.

The biggest changes ended up being the tweaking of the underarm side seam.  When finished it sits close to the body and then curves outward to the bust.  I think that’s unusual. At the same time I remember creating this same shape in the past.  It works for me. Pulls the garment close enough to the body for modesty then skims outward and over my other curves, also modestly. The underarm was taken in a good inch. I compared armscyes of the pattern with the garment  and then trimmed the curve of the armscye 1/8″ on front and again on back.  I’m not entirely sure I had  the answer to fitting a sleeveless top on my body. I needed to completely finish to evaluate the next step.  I knew I was close.

I faced the hem with commercial bias tape because I didn’t want the blouse any shorter; and as planned, bound the armscyes with commercial bias tape before stitching the side seams permanently.

To the pattern I added 1/8 ease at the CB and 1/2″ to the back side seam.  Trimmed the shoulder down to a 1/4″ seam allowance.  In the armscye I trimmed the curve 1/8″ deeper on the front and repeated for the back.  Then added 1.25″ to length the hem so I would at least start the next garment with my preferred length.

Now  I can see finishing the armscye didn’t lower the side seam enough. I have 1 big U on both sides, although the right side is more prominent.

Next garment, there has to be a next, I will use the  tissue as just altered and work towards tweaking the shoulder slope, armscye depth and button placement.This is a really good start. 3 fittings and I have a wearable garment

Side note: 

This garment is an example of how RTW fits me. I know there has been some shade thrown at working to RTW standards. My personal opinion is that’s not my goal. Not my target. RTW is the least acceptable fit level I will accept. Generally such garments are rotated out of the wardrobe by the end of the season. I just don’t care to wear them. It’s interesting to me that I can feel how well my clothes fit and I will avoid wearing even garment with such minor issues. 


5 thoughts on “A Sleeveless Sloper for Woven Fabrics

    1. I fall into the group of dressmakers that tend to over fit. I see issues I know my nonsewing friends do not. Periodically, have to remind myself to back off.

      Thanks for the compliment. Can never get too many of those.




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