Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting ready to drape!

Dear readers, Happy New Year!

...and thank you for your patience. I made it! After snowstorm-caused flight delays and moderate jet lag in the past year. Surprisingly, it was not easy to get back into the habit of blogging after two-week absence. But today, still suffering from time difference between the Central Europe and New York, I woke up earlier than usual. That was enough to revive my slightly neglected Circular Skirt Draping project. The skirt is almost done, draped on the dress form, I just need to upload all those images.

On one of my favourite forums, Pattern Review, a fellow dressmaker asked me why draping, why not using flat pattern method? I am not an expert in draping (as I have mentioned in a previous post), but from what I know, draping helps develop more unique and elaborate designs. Take the circular skirt I want to start with: Yes, the pattern would be very easy to make, but how on earth would you foresee the amount of flare drafting the skirt shape on paper?

When sewing, I am a tactile person. I need to touch the fabric, feel it and move with it before it is made into a garment. I learnt basic patternmaking at a design school. I know how to draft a pencil skirt pattern with few different design elements. But it doesn’t compare to the actual three-dimensional experience of developing a design through wrapping, folding, straightening, snipping to give a way to the fabric. Nothing compares to the freedom of adding another decorative dart, or pocket, or fold without having to do cumbersome calculations and not being able to see the design.

Draping provides me with instant gratification – you see the garment in making, and it fits perfectly!

So, this year, I promised myself, I will learn draping, as much as I can, starting with the circular skirt ☺

But before I begin posting my progress with the skirt muslin, here are my top 10 tools for draping:

1. Dress form
Professional dress forms are the best for draping, but you can easily work with any other alternative, as long as the proportions and measurements are correct and you can pin the fabric to the form.

2. Muslin ( a.k.a. Toile)
This is essentially unbleached cotton, in thickness close to the desired fashion fabric. I will refer to it as muslin, as I am used to this name from my school.


3. Ironing board and steam iron

4. Dressmakers Scissors


Make sure your scissors have sharp points as you will snip the muslin a lot as you drape. I prefer medium size scissors. An example is on the left.


5. Black and red Sharpie pens (fineliners) –
Use red pen to mark the grain line and the bias, and the black one for marking the rest

6. Pencil
I use it to mark the lines (seams, waistline) when working on the form. Once the muslin has been taken off the form, and the lines were trued (=checked) and straightened I mark them with a black fineliner.

7. Tape measure

8. Transparent Ruler
I love this ruler. It is 2” wide and is long enough to work on larger pieces of fabric without being too bulky.


9. French curve (#17)

for drawing tidy curves on your pattern/muslin, such as necklines, armholes and any other curves. I also use it to adjust the shape of darts from straight to curvier whenever it makes sense.

10. Appr. ¼” wide twill tape, or Bolduc tape, preferably in two colours.
Black and red are usually used on flesh coloured dress form, sometimes sticky tape is used for draping as well. Choose whatever you feel comfortable with. If your dress form is not white, make sure that the colour of the tape provides enough contrast against the background colour on the form.

For the circular skirt project you will need only black twill tape to mark the waistline and the hipline on the dress form.

You can get the special Bolduc tape used for draping from Susan Khalje's website here. Check the store for other goodies as well. Recently she unearthed great quality tracing paper when she visited a flea market in Paris, so just bookmark her site.

Ok, that's it. With all these tools in place we can start draping. Here is some inspiration for the project:


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