Image from Draping for Apparel Design
I'm working on my second draped design, and I thought it would be fun to take you into the process a bit more this time. Several of you have asked for draping tutorials, and I definitely don't feel ready for that yet! So while this series of posts won't be tutorials per se, I do hope it will demystify the process a bit. I thought it might help you to see how this all works, especially if you're interested in learning draping yourself. Keep in mind: I'm not a draping expert at all! I'm figuring this stuff out as I go along with the help of my teacher Sharon and the excellent book Draping for Apparel Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.
The first step is coming up with a design that you want to drape. Lately I've found myself inspired by techniques rather than images or other designs. Since I'm so new to draping, I've been starting with something I want to learn and then building a dress around that. As I was flipping through my draping book, I saw a design with an empire line midriff (pictured above) and knew I'd have to try it. You'll see this sort of shaped midriff on many vintage dress designs, like the patterns below.
The 60s designs made me think of something Joan on Mad Men would wear: if it had a scooped neck, short kimono sleeves, and a pegged wiggle skirt, that is. I found this fantastic green and white polka dot cotton faille at B&J and thought it would be perfect. It has such a delicious hand and sheen with a subtle ribbed texture. I drew this sketch, and voila! Dress designed.
The next step is to mark the style lines on your dress form: the neckline and the midriff. You can mark your lines with pins or with twill tape, as I've done here. See the scooped neckline and curved empire line?
You only need to mark the left side of your dress form (that's the left side as you're facing it) since you only drape that one side and the pattern is a mirror image. Make sense? Here's the back. The neckline is a shallow curve in the back, and the empire line dips down to center back.
I think marking the style lines is really quite fun; it's so freeing to be able to design your dress in three dimensions, as opposed to working with a flat pattern.
Next up: draping the design in muslin!
Update: you want to start with your dress form as close to your measurements as possible. Here's the post I did on padding my dress form. It doesn't have to be perfect, as you'll fit the muslin on your body, but it's good to get as close as possible on the form.