Greetings again from Portland, Oregon. I hope all of you are getting to enjoy summer time. The weather here has been more than a bit funky, and I really hope Mother Nature will provide me with a few more lovely days that are warm enough to go swimming. As soon as it's over 75 degrees I'm a total river rat, I even keep a towel and floatie toys in the back of my station wagon. I'm the first one in the water and the last one out. Since the weather has not been so nice to Oregon, I have spent a bit more time working that I usually do.
So a little bit ago Gertie had a post about cowls. This got me all excited because I LOVE cowls, and I have one in my Spring / Summer 2011 line plan. (Sidebar: yes, I am working that far ahead to be ready for market. Sometimes it's a bit hard doing that, since all I want to do is make cozy sweaters and dresses for fall.) But back to the important thing at hand—pretty cowls! I am going to walk you through the process—sketch to finished garment—with draping a lined knit dress with a cowl.
When I design, I will usually have a general idea or concept in mind. I may sketch out a few things, but really I don't finalize anything until after I have hunted and gathered all of my fabric. When I go to buy fabric I take what sketches I have, and swatches of any fabric that I have on hand that I think I may want to use in the collection that is brainstorming in my head. (Which is usually fabric I fell in love with that didn't fit anywhere cohesively in whatever collection I was working on when I bought it. This can also lend to a rather large hole in your wallet.)
This dress in particular I did not have a design for until I saw the fabric. Here is the fabric:
Now that I have the goods comes the sketch.
I'm much better at dress making than sketching. I don't feel like I successfully get a dress out of my brain until I have the garment done.
Normally when you drape a cowl you do it on the bias. After thinking about this garment for some time, and knowing the fabric, I decided to try something different. This fabric is not exactly unstable, but is not super stable either. I want the waist to be on the correct grain for maximum stability in the garment.
I chopped off a square of fabric and began to drape! (I have been told I cut like a chainsaw when I am excited about fabric, so no nice perfect square here.) Note that I'm draping in the actual fashion fabric here. With a woven, you might drape in muslin. But with knits, it's a good idea to drape your test garment in a similar knit fabric to your finished garment, if not the actual fashion fabric. That way there are no surprises with differences of drape or weight.
The form I am draping on is not my ideal. It is my lovely studio mate's form, and a rather small size 4 or what I call my size XS. I usually begin on a size Medium, since that is the center of my sizing.
I started by getting the fabric centered on the form, to establish the waist first. This is not the typical method, but since I wanted the grain to be on the waist, that is where I began. I pinned with a bit of ease, knowing the waist on this form is a bit smaller than how I size my garments.
Not always the best method, if you don't want marker to seep through to your form. I tested the fabric first and used a light hand (plus I wanted it to be easily seen for you guys). I traced the armhole around the dress form's armhole plate. When I'm draping I tend to do that, and then alter the pattern later. That way I don't forget how much I dropped the armhole when draping. When I make sleeveless garments, I don't always drop the armholes the "standard" way. A pet peeve of mine is to have gaping, so I usually err on the side of more fitted.
Here's what it looks like so far laid out flat on the table. If it's not 100% symmetrical, I can fix that when I transfer it to a paper pattern.
This is about the look I am going for. Of course there will be a lining, which I'll need to make a test pattern for as well. That's when I will check the overall cowl shape.
Next, I'll be tackling the skirt. Skirts are my favorite thing to drape. Yay! Stay tuned.