Draping is one of my passions. Not not as in valances in your window but as in a way to construct and sculpt a pattern for garments. I was working on some dresses for the Band that is playing at our wedding coming up. It's not the most original idea but it will be cute and a style that will fit both ladies. It is 1950's inspired with a halter neckline and lapels.
The trick is that one lady is stick thin whilst the other is your more average day American woman in size. Both have this gorgeous pale skin. I chose to make the dresses out of a dark green stretch cotton Sateen.
Well onto the Drapery! Remember this isn't the most inventive but it will show you the basics of how I work.
First you have the blank canvas, one of my mannequins (she's not the best one but don't tell her that).
I always like to start with the waist and bodice when doing a full dress. Since this is also a balanced pattern I only need to work on half the form. As my friends Johnny says "Use your Imagination!" to view it as a whole dress.
Two key things here, the straight grain of the fabric is parallel to the center front and I mark that straight grain (which you can't see the chalk in this picture but you will later). Yes I know it has wrinkles but that will be resolved later in fittings with actual stretch fabric (similar to the final fabric) on the person. Also this is just the beginning. I always pin the grain to the center front first, then I gently work my way to the side seam to pin it. This is one of the few times where it is ok to pin directly to the mannequin because it is just the beginning and you have no other fabric to pin it to. One of the Fundamentals to draping is once you get far enough along nothing is actually pinned to the mannequin itself b/c you have draped and fitted the fabric in a way where it holds itself naturally to the shape just as the clothes naturally hangs on your body. Seriously you wouldn't pin something to your skin to wear it would you? (don't answer that if you are into those fetish things).
With the bodice I am now working on the upper section to cover the breast and be the foundation for the lapels. I am on purpose working with this on the bias so that the lapels will have a straight grain to be sewn onto giving them more strength and foundation. I always use a large piece of muslin to begin and cut is away and re-use what's left as long as I can before it's too small or the grain is off. When I laid this down I drew over the muslin and then cut leaving some extras as seam allowance and room to drape or change as I feel fit.
When I am satisfied I clip off the excess muslin and pin the breast dart for shape and where the seams meet I fold the fabric under and pin it in the same direction that stitches would be as if sewing it. This helps me to visualize where the true seam will be on the pattern and easier when I need to make my final markings.
Next I am working on my lapel collar. I find the easiest way is to fold over my seam allowance and just lay the fabric on top. Then I draw what I want the lapels to look like. Even though I am doing a split lapel I am drawing them together so I have a better Idea of the positioning and size. You can faintly see my chalk below.
I take it off and cut this exactly in the shape I'd like with no seam allowance because I do not want to bulk up an unnecessary thing at this stage. Later when I get into the final pattern pieces I will make a more refined Muslin collar to fit.
I fit the the lapels into the collar to make my judgement on the size and position and they look good for now. Once again something I will probably mess around and change when I do the in person fittings. Once again I pin the seams back just like I would for sewing.
Taking a step back is important to reflect on what you are doing in the process. When you work too closely to the fabric you can easily loose site of your concept and goal.
Just a little shameless promotion that I always use one of my own Felted Pincushion rings when I am working.
I draped the back, it was pretty simple. I still want to keep the straight grain on the center back the same as I did on the center front. Also a straight grain seam is the easiest place to install a zipper for a dress. It will lessen the puckering and pull that might occur on a side seam zipper that high up on the bodice. The back is a simple Halter tie in a bow.
This is the first skirt variation that the Skinnier singer requested. I will need to measure her knee length and plan on making it slightly Tulip (flare) at the bottom.
Below is the second skirt variation for the more average sized singer. It has a bit of tulle underneath to give it the 1950's fullness. I have already decided to change this from a gathered skirt into a more streamlined circle skirt version.
The Muslin after I made my final markings before I put it into paper and sew a full body first draft from new muslin. I usually use a black chalk but to make it a little easier I decided to use a Pink Marker for you.
You can see the breast dart and how the top overlaps the center front. That is for modesty which depending on the girls may cross over more for more modest or less to be more revealing. It would be a pretty simple adjustment and shift overall.
I hope this Step to Step of my process in draping was of interest. I'll do my best to recording taking the muslin and putting it back into paper for you next week!