Monday, July 5, 2010

Draping a Dress, Part One: Inspiration


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.

36 comments:

  1. Amazing. Lets put it in the ever growing 'to do' pile. Thank you for sharing Gertie! Can't wait to see the progress...

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  2. That is fascinating. It is going to be great watching it develop into the finished dress. I've seen them use the tape on Project Runway without really understanding it's purpose. You have a talent for making it all sound very straightforward and logical.

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  3. Great, I will be watching this process closely and although it is not a tutorial I can learn quite a bit from it. How great to have a teacher to provide guidance when needed.

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  4. How exciting! And, whilst I know you've explained that your new series of posts about Draping are not tutorials per se, it will be fun to join you on your draping-journey, so thank you for sharing!

    P.S. Ages ago I bought myself some of this stuff Fashion Tape from a store called Morplan that we have here in the UK (I've not bee brave enough to use it yet). It's a self-adhesive narrow 3mm-wide fabric tape marked every centimetre and can be used in the same way that the black-twill tape was used in your post-photos. I've had a quick search & I cannot see anything similar on the web out there, if there is a US source maybe someone could post the link for other's to see :)?

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  5. Oh Gertie!!! You're making me want to drop everything I need to do today and go play with draping on my dressform! hehe! I haven't done it in so long (I used to do it for most of the projects I made; especially costumes), that your post is getting me all excited and giddy. hehe! I adore the dress design you came up with--it's going to look stunning on you! (And may I say once again, I am utterly envious of your fabric selection in NYC? Cotton faille?! *drool*)

    Thank you so much for sharing your process with us--it's going to be fun to watch!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  6. Oh that is so interesting and you are right, draping is a mystifying process.
    At some point can you do a post on your dress form? Did you and your teacher work together to pad that out to match your body dimensions? I have found just that process to be difficult without another set of hands.

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  7. Me again LOL! I've noticed that Morplan (UK) was out of stock & found this store for UK readers instead Shoben Designer Tape 3mm x 25metres. Alternatively, I'd guess that a 1/8"/3mm-wide fine line masking-tape (as used for decorating/painting) could work equally well especailly if it were in a darker colour than the usual pale-beige (hmmmm...., although it might be inclined to loose some of it's "stickiness" if it were lifted & repositioned onto the fabric cover of the mannequin too much).

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  8. To: a little sewing on the side, the post you want is Meet the New and Improved Veronica! :)

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  9. This looks like so much fun! Gertie, I just recently discovered your blog, and I'm a little obsessed with it. I don't know how the heck you have time to do so much sewing, but thank you for providing lots of information and inspiration!

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  10. Damn, I wish I had a dressform that really properly matched my actual body. But said body changes too often for the time and/or expense to be worth it, so I'll just have to stick to drafting my own flat patterns.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your draping progress, though, keep us posted!

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  11. Amazing. Can't wait to see more!

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  12. I'm so glad you're taking us through this process - I love seeing works in progress, ehm, as they progress!

    I'd like to suggest a slit for the back of your skirt though - a pegged skirt can easily become so narrow that it gets hard to walk! ;)

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  13. It looks so simple. I have read varying reviews on Armstrong's book and got the impression that it is better used in conjunction with a class. Where did you find your wonderful teacher?

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  14. Brilliant! Can't wait for the next installment

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  15. indigorchid, you're right! I remembered the slit last night. I'm going to put a back seam in the skirt only (not the back bodice) and then use a side zip.

    Nancy K, I think the reviews are right: while the book is really good, I don't think I could have figured it out on my own. I think I found Sharon through PACC:

    http://www.paccprofessionals.org/site/

    She's also listed on this site:

    www.findadressmaker.com

    I've really liked doing private lessons as opposed to a college-level course. It definitely suits my needs better.

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  16. In a dream world I would have room for a dress form, and time to sew...

    Until then, I'll live vicariously through you, and glean as much info as I can for the future!

    :D

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  17. Wow, this is fascinating! How I wish I could drape...hope to see more of this project! This is exciting!

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  18. Advanced BeginnerJuly 5, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Thanks for the post on padding the dress form. Last year, I sought advice on Pattern Review.com and some people were suggesting it was easy. I knew it wasn't.

    I had tried to get feedback on a form that is molded to the body, and which David Page Coffin has raved about, but nobody seems to be familiar with it. In addition, I'm not sure that it has shoulder screws and other aspects of traditional dress form. I believe that collapsible shoulders also are helpful.

    http://www.mytwindressforms.com

    For now, I'd like to buy a second hand dress form. I live near the Garment Center.

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  19. Ooh I'm making my dress form this week and the thought of draping has always appealed. Looking forward to more of these not tutorials :o)

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  20. Advanced BeginnerJuly 5, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    The link to Sharon's website is no good. Would you have contact information for her, or is she in the New York White Pages?

    Thanks.

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  21. Advanced BeginnerJuly 5, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Nevermind, I read your comment with Sharon's contact information. Thanks.

    For the last couple of years, I've taken one sewing or tailoring techniques course at FIT in the evening or on the weekend. I've learned a tremendous amount, and it's a pretty good deal for a New York State resident, but the system is not set up for people who want to sew for themselves. I've been looking for some help to supplement the classes.

    They also have draping and pattern making, but I wanted to attain a better level of sewing technique before taking them.

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  22. I look forward to your next post and seeing how the garment turns from a sketch into a draped dress! thanks for taking the time to document your process!

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  23. I've been thinking about making my own body form using the threadbanger tutorial. I wouldn't be able to pin something to it, but maybe I could sew some kind of cover for it so that I can pin on it for draping?

    The more I see of your work Gertie, the more I want to try it for myself... Still quite over my head at the moment though :)

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  24. Thanks for sharing this! I have always found draping (even though I didn't know the term for it when fitting clothes to an actual person) less laborious than creating 2d patterns from measurements. I imagine that pattern makers have wanted to teach from the angle that anyone who creates a pattern will want to reproduce it for others in different sizes, in which case a 2d version is probably more helpful. In terms of fit, draping must be a far more useful technique for a home sewist coming up with their own designs and sewing for her/himself and family and friends.

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  25. That really does demystify the process! I've always wondered how they do it. Now I have you to thank for yet another thing I probably don't have time for! I MUST NOT SLEEP!!!

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  26. This is so great, I'm looking forward to watching your dress "grow".

    FYI--a new draping text has turned up from Fairchild Pub. It would be perfect for someone learning to drape on their own because it is illustrated with many great photos. I believe the title is: Draping Basics by Sally Di Marco.

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  27. Very interesting. I don't know anything about draping. You sketch is cute. Just wondering if the shoulder darts on the back bodice are for style or function? Looking forward to seeing you create your dress!

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  28. Thanks for de-mystifying the process, you've explained it really well. Love your dress design!

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  29. Thank you so much! I love learning through you! I'm excited to try this at home.

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  30. Really cool blog. The details are great. I'd like to do a review on my Entertainment news UK website's fashion section. Would you be happy to provide an image to showcase GNBFBS?

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  31. Go to the Fairchild Publishers site and leaf through a sample chapter of the text, "Draping Basics" by Sally Di Marco. The text presents a step-by-step process supported with colored photographs for draping foundation garments including the sleeve.

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  32. About the style tape referred to in some posts...

    Single fold bias hem tape (1/2 inch wide) is fantastic. It tis cut on the bias and molds to the contours of the dress form.

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  33. By draping on a template, the dress maintains a "standard" of sizing and shaping.

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  34. Gertie, I absolutely love your design. It is simple, chic and elegant. I can't wait to see the outcome.

    Wholesale Clothing

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  35. Thanks so much, well done and a great way for me to start to understand the process!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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