Through my eyes; I made a pattern from a photograph in Vogue

I have lovingly kept this Book of Vogue patterns for years and drooled and dreamed over it many times. Now I’m sewing again, I’m trying not to add to my pattern stash before I use some of the ones I have already, but it’s difficult when you see something you like and it’s not in the stash – and of course, I only like what’s not in the stash.   ‘How hard could it be’ I asked myself, ‘to make a dress by sight from the picture in the pattern book?’.


Now I have a kind of idea of how slopers work, I decided to see if could, in fact, make a pattern based on an idea and make it fit using my sloper.

It started with a sketch of the dress. Everyone knows denim is really in this year and so it had crept into my consciousness and I kept coming back to a denim shift dress in a section called The Vogue Woman. These garments are intended for a mature woman and I probably would have skimmed that section of the book in the late 90s but now this dress kept calling me.

I decided to make it like the photo in the book so it would be in the original traditional blue denim.  This book is from 2000 and the pattern is out of print, so it forced me to do what I have been dreaming of for ages and draft my own pattern. Now I have made a few things without patterns before but mainly t-shirts and simple shifts, but I wanted to do this a bit more professionally. While it’s quite straightforward it’s more than a two-piece pattern.

I did a bit of internet surfing and spent a lot of time YouTubing to re-learn how to make and use slopers. I say re-learn because I had forgotten that I had made a rudimentary set of slopers in old sewing me days. However, I needed to learn it over as I had forgotten pretty much everything. I have considered classes several times but they used to be inconvenient as the only course I found was on during the day when I was at work. Now that I’m not working the cost is prohibitive for a hobby, so DIY it is.

I  discovered Ralph Pink’s system which combines Microsoft Excel and Adobe Illustrator to make slopers. This suits the techie in me. If I do get to making patterns I would rather do them in Illustrator so that I can also grade them to different sizes.

I created a bodice and dress sloper and from that made a quarter-size version to practice. My first pattern is doll size and so much fun when I finished it.


Instantly I could visualise the real thing and this was so motivating. So scaling it up was the next step. The whole point of the Excel Illustrator combo was to be able to make this to my measurements so the model should scale up for a full-size pattern. Here goes.

Well, I have to admit that my first toile did not fit but I was able to work out that it was a transposition error in my measurements. The adjustments worked and there it was I have drafted my own slopers and made a dress pattern from it.

Green denim MCR pic 7

How was your first time? Have you dared to draft your own patterns? I’d really be interested in your tips for learning pattern drafting.

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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