Comparing close fitting slopers: Bunka vs. Aldrich Part 2

This is a second part in a series of posts: Comparing close fitting slopers: Bunka vs. Aldrich

What is a sloper? Why I decided to use Aldrich and Bunka…

I thought the best way to start learning about patternmaking was to pick up a book (OK, I do admit I did some googling before that, but found it quite painful… so much information out there, I needed something more organized)…. I already had Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, so I started there. Without going into the nitty gritty details, I acquainted myself with terms like basic bodice, darts, dart manipulation, adding fullness, etc…

Things were starting to fall in place… maybe I can do this! (I think I can, I think I can…) So the next step was to create a sloper (or a basic bodice). I was still not really sure about how you add ease, where you do it? What if I make a simple sleeveless top using the sloper – would I be able to pull it over head, or would it need a zipper (or some other closure)? I had many questions I though I could only answer by actually making the sloper…

Then I realized I had two more problems… First – I did not necessarily want to make the tops for myself, and the method described in this book basically assumes you are doing patternmaking for either yourself, or you have a model available so you can take all the measurements. For constructing the basic bodice and the sleeve, you need about 20 different measurements. Hmmm… that seemed like a lot! There is a chart in the book, containing standard measurements to use if you don’t have a model, but… and here comes the second problem… the standard measurements! Where does this standard come from? What height does in assume? And it starts with the size it calls 6, which is close to Burda size 38. What about smaller sizes?

I wanted to make my patterns in a few different sizes. All my sewing over the years was done using Burda patterns – I always liked how they fit (and I have been a couple different sizes myself), so I wanted to use the same measurements Burda uses (I tried a few patterns from other companies – not with good results). But the measurements found in Burda magazines and this website includes only a few of the measurements I would need to use this method. So what to do?

So I looked further and found two more books that use simplified methods to constructing sloper – which means you need fewer measurements.

The first one is the Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. This method uses 10 measurements (this is for the basic bodice only, not including the sleeve). This method is very similar to that described by gedwoods here on Burdastyle (Constructing the basic bodice block). After reading the instructions in the book and gedwoods instructions, I found that I could construct the basic bodice using only 7 measurements from a Burda measurement chart (bust, waist, shoulder length, nape to waist, neck size and back length, back width) and the other 3 can be estimated (armscye depth, chest width and bust dart width). OK, so that would solve my problem of using the measurement chart that does not include all 20 measurements.

The second book I found was Fundamentals of Garment Design which is the first textbook in the Bunka Fashion Series published by Bunka Fashion College in Japan. Japanese pattern books (like Mrs Style Book, Lady Boutique and others) are quite popular, but many people have had problems using the patterns that come with these books since they have been made for a typical Japanese woman with the height of about 158 cm – just for comparison, Burda patterns are made for an average height of 168 cm. that is a difference of 10 cm or 4in!. That is a lot, and these patterns will not fit taller women.

The method described in this book, uses only 3 measurements: bust, waist, nape to waist. Actually, most all measurements are derived from the bust value – waist is only used to distribute darts around the waist, and the back length (nape to waist) is used only to set the back length of the bodice. So, even though this seemed very interesting, I was a little worried that the bodice would not fit well. From the book:
“Slopers produced in Japan accommodate mainly the standard body type of a Japanese adult woman 18-24 years of age (typically with waist measurements of 80 – 89 cm).”
So would it fit? Would everything be “shortened”, “riding up”? Would the bust point be too high? Would the armhole openings be too tight? I wouldn’t know unless I tried…

So I made the slopers using these two methods…

But first a thought about standard body measurements and sizes…

standard comparison

Reading though books I mentioned, I noticed that standards, or at least measurements published in various books/magazines do not match well. In fact they are all over the place. I made a little chart, using only “newer” standards. I matched them by bust size, not by the garment size so you can compare the measurements, not the size numbers (which make no difference right?). I only included 4 main measurements – but notice how for example, for bust size 34in, Armstrong waist is 24in, ASTM standard lists it at 26in, while Burda and Aldrich have about 27in. That is 3in!!! difference between the smallest and largest waist measurements for the same bust size. Hmmm… except for ASTM, which is an actual standard, books by Armstrong, Aldrich and Burda magazine do not state where their measurements come from…


One thought on “Comparing close fitting slopers: Bunka vs. Aldrich Part 2

  1. khun.iam

    hello nina
    i also have Armstrong Pattern making book. I just start to follow and and also confuse the research of their size standard.I have a problem with model measurement even i accept that the Armstrong’s measurement is very details and clear of the Human Anatomy.
    Rather I saw the magic pattern of Bunka i bought one and read the sloper. I always confuse how can they calculate all parts from bust circumference.
    Compare with Size Measurement Standard of Armstrong and Bunka, only one thing that i really believe is Armstrong Size is for European and American but Bunka is for Asia (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai and some country in SEA)

    Unfortunately i can’t order the Fundamental of Garment Design and other books of its. cause it’s not available on book store and online book store.

    Anyway I always look for the updated information of How to make the good pattern with the nice out put fitting.

    Khun Iam.


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