Draping 101

I’ve wanted to learn draping for several years. It always seemed so cool and magical to be able to lay fabric over a dressform and from that, create a garment or pattern. Rami Kashou from Project Runway Season 4 was particularly good at it. I wanted to learn.

I took a pattern cutting class at Central St Martins, because they didn’t have a draping course at the time. It was useful in understanding how patterns work and how to create any design from a standard block. But it was very mathematical and I never created a standard block that was my size – maybe my math was off.

My tutor for the pattern cutting course recommended The Art of Dress Modelling, from the London Fashion Centre. It is organised in an odd way, with some elaborate drapings in the first chapter. I didn’t get very far.

A little while later, I bought Draping for Fashion Design because it was highly recommended on Amazon. And over this Easter break, when I got a full 11 days off work without using any of my annual leave (whoo hoo!), I decided I was going to learn to drape.

First two (failed) attempts. Forgot to get a photo of the successful draping on Pinelope - d'oh!

I started, as instructed, with the bodice front. Which I reckon, now I’ve done them all, is the hardest peice to drape. I had to do it three times over to get something that seemed right. I watched some helpful videos on Pandemic Apparel to clarify a few murky points in the book. But on the back bodice, I was truly stumped by the amount of ease recommended. In desperation, I turned to that first book again, in the hopes that some fancy draped item would shed some light.

Now because I never got past that first chapter the first time around, I never found out that section 2 had instructions for draping a basic bodice front and back and a skirt! (Yes, if I’d looked at the table of contents I would have known). And I found these instructions much easier to follow, being in a much more free form style which I was more comfortable with. Yippee. In a morning, I had finished my back bodice, front and back skirt, and pinned them all together.

Bodice front, from the paper pattern

Next step was trueing the pattern on the muslin peices (to make sure all the curves, darts, seams, balance marks are correct) and creating a paper pattern from it. I then cut those peices out again, marked all the seamlines, and will use this new muslin to check the fit on my own body. Once I’ve tweaked the pattern, I’m hoping this will turn into a block for me to use in the future.

Then, it’s on to draping a skirt – nothing fancy, but I might try direct draping of the fashion fabric, if I can stand the possibility of screwing it all up!

If anyone is interested in draping, I would highly suggest starting with the video tutorials, then trying to find books in person and flick through them before deciding which to buy.

Skirt pieces


One thought on “Draping 101

  1. Pingback: Back to basics: creating a sloper | I made this!

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