A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classes

One day soon, I hope, I’ll get the hang of taking consistently good photos. I still can’t quite work out why sometimes my blog photos are awesome and I look awesome, and other times I look like hell. Is it the makeup (or lack of it)? Posing? Photographer? Lighting? ALL OF THE ABOVE, DAMNIT?

Anyway, you’re not here for my face (I don’t think), but my WONDERFUL sewing (cough). But I’m going to go ahead and say that I think today’s two skirts are wonderful – partly due to fabric, and partly due to the fit which I have almost perfect, thanks to Suzy Furrer’s craftsy class on skirt slopers. (Please note, I’m using affiliate links in this post. But trust me when I say that doesn’t change my opinion at all of the classes, I’d still be recommending them)

I’ve actually owned her bodice classes for a while now – I initially bought the “Creative Darts and Seamlines” course, quickly followed by the “Creative Necklines” and then the actual bodice sloper class. – I got about halfway through the bodice sloper before life got in the way and I believe it’s currently sitting in the bottom of a drawer!

So before I tackled that again, I thought I would try out the skirt sloper class – less measurements and curves to go around meant it was going to be a lot easier to make, and fit, my sloper.

I was on leave this week, so on Wednesday I got up early and made Mr. Guy take my measurements before he headed off to work, and in the end I got the sloper and the bulk of this first trial skirt done in one day (with a lot of fannying about when the internet stopped working). And honestly? I’m so happy with the fit! It’s comfortable to wear, skims over my hips and belly without accentuating my lower belly (like my previous slim skirts have done). The small amount of wrinkling at the side seams in this one is because I could do with shaving a touch more shaping off the lower hip.

I went with Suzy’s recommendation to measure my “waist” at 6mm (1/4″) below my belly button, even though the smallest part of my waist is 11cm (4.5″) above that, then I used her “industry standard” measurements of 4 1/2″ and 8 1/2″ for the high hip and low hip, respectively. This ended up working pretty well for me although the skirt looks and feels like a “dropped waist” skirt.

There are a few things that surprised me about how the sloper ended up – for example there’s more fabric at the front than at the back (you quarter your measurement at each step, add ease, then add 1/4″ to the front measurement and subtract 1/4″ to the back). Another is that I have an amazing fit with only four darts (in total), and even the side seams are a lot less curvy than I expected – in fact I had to shave off a significant amount of shaping from the side seams. Four darts means it’s SO MUCH QUICKER to sew!

This skirt is made straight from the sloper after adding seam allowances and a facing. It’s 20″ long, which is her “industry standard” for a sloper and actually a nice length on me. I didn’t have enough fabric (I got this oddly shaped remnant of curtain fabric from either an op shop or a fabric-a-brac, I can’t remember) for a hem allowance so I’ve used bias binding to turn the hem.

As mentioned above I drafted a facing, using contrast fabric because I didn’t have enough of the shell fabric. I inserted a centered zip according to the tutorial on Fashion Incubator (is anyone else “blocked because your IP address is blacklisted for spam” with the new website?) and it came out awesomely. I wasn’t able to understitch with that technique so I just top-stitched.

After successfully making this first skirt, I did a bunch more drafting by following along with the class – starting with an empire waist (using the smallest part of my waist as the empire line), pegging in 1″ to make it a “pencil skirt” and increasing the length. Unfortunately it’s not particularly pegged at all but the rest of the drafting turned out really well!

Yes, a pencil skirt covered in pencils! I’ve had this fabric for about two years (you may even recognise it!). It was always going to be a pencil skirt, but for some reason I never made it out of my previous pattern (from Gertie’s book). But when I wanted to try out this new self-drafted pattern, this was the only suitable fabric that I was okay with “wasting” if it turned out badly. Which it didn’t.

Even with the higher waist it still only has four darts (two front and two back). The zip is centered again – I love the tutorial but I admit I have to work on my topstitching. Next time I’ll try following the lapped zipper tutorial.

Luckily it’s not really pegged and is easy to walk in because I completely forgot to draft a vent. I didn’t have enough fabric to attempt pattern-matching but if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to bother anyway.

The empire version also has a facing which extends below the “waist” to prevent it bunching and wrinkling. Due to my posture the balance of the side seam is a bit off (it wants to swing forward), but I’m not sure what the best fix would be. Otherwise there’s not much to say! Seams are stitched and overlocked, hem is overlocked, pressed and top-stitched.

So, back to the class. After drafting the sloper, Suzy takes you through the steps to drafting a bunch of different skirts, like a-line, bias flare, and circle skirts; pleats (Box pleats, accordion pleats or knife pleat), facings, waistbands, flounces/drapes, a pocket, and linings. She then goes through production techniques, showing you how to finish the patterns, adding seam allowances and marking them properly (e.g. notches, awl punches and grainlines).

Honestly I can’t really say anything bad about the class. I would have liked more pocket variations, and more info on how to attach the skirt to a dress pattern. Possibly more fitting advice would have been useful as well.

I’d say you’d get a lot more out of this class than you would by buying an already-drafted skirt pattern, particularly when it’s on sale like it is now. Once I got past the faff of measuring and drafting the sloper (which was actually quite fun), it was much easier to fit than a standard skirt pattern, and now I know I can make all sorts of variations to the base pattern to create a well fitting skirt. Suzy also casually drops in all these tips that I never would have worked out by trial and error – learning sewing techniques in person is always best, but this is a close second.

The bodice classes are as good as the skirt one (even one or two of those tips from the creative neckline class was enough for me to be glad I’d spent the money – and I’d bought it full price) and I’m looking forward to tackling the bodice sloper once I’ve finished playing around with the skirt.


Pattern: Self-drafted!

Fabrics: Mystery floral (stash) and cotton duck pencil print (stash – it’s over two years old)

Notions: Zips, thread, interfacing, from stash

Total: Just my time

So have you watched any of Suzy Furrer’s classes? Honestly she’s my favourite teacher on Craftsy and I’ll buy ANY thing she puts on there (and I just found out that her pants class is out, as well as a collar and closures class, so I’m buying them now while they’re on sale). Do you draft your own patterns, or alter existing ones?

49 thoughts on “A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classes

  1. I just bought the skirt and bodice classes this morning, before I read this, and have already taken all of my measurements for the bodice block. It’s so good to read a review outside of Craftsy that recommends them. Your skirts looks great, I can’t wait to get started myself!

    • Perfect timing! I agree it can be difficult to find reviews off the Craftsy platform and I love reading bloggers talk about them – I’ll try and do some reviews for the other classes I own as well.

      Good luck with the bodice sloper – I’m really keen to get mine done again. Hopefully I still have my measurements written down somewhere (although I’ll have to re-check the major ones in case they’ve changed in the last year) so I don’t have to get Guy to re-do them.
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classesMy Profile

  2. Wow, both of these skirts look amazing! The fit looks perfect. I’m glad you had such a good experience with these classes. I haven’t tried them but have read other positive reviews. Isn’t drafting SO much fun? I’ve just dipped my toes into it but have been really enjoying it so far. :)

  3. I am so glad you got to Suzy’s classes, she is the best instructor I have found for drafting. I have bought all her classes and I am working through them. It is so sad that we lost the art of dress making, 100 years ago clothes were made to fit a body. Now we have stores filled with clothes that fit nobody. Developing your personal sloper for skirt, bodice and pants you are set to make anything you want. Love Suzy, love Craftsy, go sewing. Good job on the skirts Sophie Lee!

    • Have you tried out the pants sloper class? And yes, I am a HUGE fan of Suzy’s classes – some of her tips/rules have blown my mind a bit.

      And I agree it’s a big shame that we’ve shifted so far towards fast fashion/RTW clothing, with poor quality fabrics that don’t fit well and get chucked out a year after being bought. I wonder if custom dressmaking will become popular again with all the people getting interested in sewing again
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classesMy Profile

  4. I watched her skirt class, but still need to draft my sloper. I thought Suzy is a really good teacher, well organized and very clear in her explanations. I had not yet seen that she has a pants class out, that is certainly interesting!

    • I decided to do the drafting on my first run through so I wouldn’t procrastinate too much (which I tend to do often), and as soon as I’d done it zoomed on to draft several different patterns from it – I have a third skirt almost finished, that just needs a zip. Can I give a gentle push to start drafting it?

      I’m intrigued by the pants class as well – I’ve read one so-so review on it but I think it’ll probably be worth it for the pattern drafting tips even if the sloper doesn’t work out perfectly.
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classesMy Profile

  5. I love seeing your smiling face and your wonderful sewing skills! :) I have the same issue with photos too, some are great, and some are terrible and I can’t always figure out why. Ugh!
    Both these skirts look awesome on you! And the fit is amazing. I always a bit scared of fitted skirts because I’m afraid they with accentuate my belly. I have Suzy’s bodice class, but maybe I should get the skirt one too. Thanks for the review!
    Heather recently posted…The Greenwood TanksMy Profile

  6. pencil pencil skirt is rad! Great fit. I’ve taken a different pants craftsy class (Kathy Ruddy) which gave me a lot of confidence. One of the best things I’ve ever done was a couple of pattern drafting classes to make my own bodice sloper ;o)

  7. I’m gonna look into these classes, I’m a pattern size 24-28 with a stupid amount of adjusting and/or grading. It makes sewing so much harder than it has to be… If I knew how to draft then I could just make things incorporating ideas from things I see out and about.

    • Yes, do! I think it’d be even more beneficial if you have to constantly grade up patterns and make a ton of adjustments. With a sloper you can either draft the pattern from scratch, or use it as a template to alter the patterns without having to faff with so much fitting

  8. The pencil pencil skirt is awesome! and they both look great. I’ve self-drafted ever since I started sewing as a kid – the only time I ever tried a pattern it needed so many alterations I might just as well not have bothered – but there’s still plenty of stuff I’d like to learn, & these courses look great. Does the bodice course cover princess seams?

    • Yep, princess seams are covered in the “Creative darts and seamlines” class. And I’d say there is enough to the classes to be worth getting even if you’ve been drafting for ages – things like changing the “height” of the shoulder so the front neckline is held at tension and therefore is less likely to gape (I can’t explain it well because I haven’t gone through the process yet).

      I can imagine that sewing with a pattern would be SO frustrating if you’ve drafted for a long time. The fit on this sloper was significantly easier than what I’ve done on commercial skirt patterns, I guess because it started off more simple and it’s more obvious how each change will affect the fit

  9. I own all of Suzy’s classes – I love them. If you combine them with the awesome Sara Alm’s classes, you need nothing else. Suzy and Sara work together apparently.
    I haven’t used Suzy’s classes to draft slopers, I did that less painfully at my patternmaking teacher in Sydney, but I will go back and draft with my personal blocks using Suzy’s advice. Can never reacll whether the back being bigger is called balanced or unbalanced but its a good thing apparently! Love the pencil skirt.

    • Thanks Nicole! I’m so happy with this one. And it’s so comfortable to wear – no bunching up at the waist like my previous pencil skirts, and no trying tugging the waistband back into shape.

      I hiiighly recommend checking out the classes (and it looks like it’s still on sale, although not as much of a sale as the other day). I’m going through the bodice sloper one now and I’m excited to see what I can do with it
      Sophie-Lee recently posted…A slippery slope(r): Suzy Furrer’s craftsy classesMy Profile

  10. Perfectly fitted skirts! I can’t wait to see what other skirts you will come up with. My friend gave me a book on how to make about 30 different skirts using a basic sloper, but I haven’t tried to make the sloper yet. I should try that class!

    • I think the skirts look great. I just finished watching Suzy’s skirt class and I can’t wait to try out the techniques. I also started the bodice class. Just learning about the drafting and how changing x affects y is so helpful. One tip she suggested, if one has more “bump” in front (or back) is to use dots on the body and measure front half and back half separately to get a truly good fitting sloper.
      I can’t wait to try these out. Unfortunately I herniated a lumbar disc and I’m out of omission for the time being. While my mind wants me hunched over a drafting table, the body is screaming no. At least I can watch these classes. Thank you for posting about them, or I would never have known.

      • Oh no! I hope your back is feeling better (since I’ve taken so long to respond). Have you looked into getting a standing-height table for drafting? I got one earlier this year and it is amazing – I no longer have an aching back after sewing. I’m looking to get a bar stool as well.

        I’ve just gone through the bodice class – finally got my bodice sloper fitting close-to-perfect and have made two test garments. SO much fun!

  11. Pingback: Self-drafted shirtwaist dress from sloper | Two Random Words

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