Updated: Jul 16
‘Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.’
Origami draping for me is two-fold (see what I did there!). Firstly a way to describe a garment made from one piece of fabric just as you would make an origami animal shape from one piece of paper, secondly a sculpting where a smaller feature is created from a series of folds to create more interest or a feature. This shifts us well away from the restrictions of the bodice shaped pattern or Base Template shapes that have been used so far in two dimensional pattern drafting in the previous Modules.
Patterns that make garments in one piece of fabric can very often be completely unidentifiable when mapped out on paper and so need some mindful thought in how to explain how to construct the garment so extra syntax or markings are crucial for the pattern drafting. You could invent a series of different shaped notches to identify key points on the body map (remember the dots from Module 3 used during measurements?) visual marks with a key can help. You could also consider designing your own print for the fabric to help with this.
Here in Part 3 we will look at a simple one piece garment and then continue this origami theme through to Part 4 when we consider creating garments with zero waste. Then finally into the Part 5 where we look at sculpting and smocking a little to create different dimensions in the clothing.
The rest of the Units from this point forward in Draping will be very different to what has come before in the Workflow. They are not intended to be lessons, rather they are Challenge Units - Challits! My creative brain has had an explosion this week! Yes no apologies Challits it is and I am going to use this word.
By draping a pattern in one piece we are going to break the rules of Grainlines as fabric will be draped every which way to create the overall silhouette so if you find that this is way out of your comfort zone then go no further! This kind of draping is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Draping in this way is organically experimental, drawing on previous techniques as you twist, fold, gather, pleat (think direction) and cut the fabric to get it into a form that will fit onto a body and all of its various requirements for appendages, how it will be worn, accessed, and lifestyle…. then there is the Threadelicious Flexible Pattern concept but more about that little gem later.
As you work through the Challits keep things simple try not to think about an end result, just have a starting point then keep going.
At this stage with all of the previous modules information under your belt so to speak, everything and anything is possible.
The Challits will indicate a way through a simple Threadelicious process of creating and checking to find your own form and shape with the fabric so although you could copy the demonstration verbatim it is intended simply to show how ideas form and develop. This is a fluid unbroken state to be in - to push you out of the control of measuring with previous units and making the mind emerge into a rolling, surging, pouring state. Very quixotic indeed.
In recent years clothing has got closer and closer to the body to a point where we generally see fitted clothing to be the dressier option and so tailoring has become a much valued skill. Tailoring is perhaps the opposite of what we are doing here, tailoring is full control, draping is letting go. But since time began we have been making clothing to fit a body in one way or another with limited fabric so this kind of draping is nothing new, and with the emergence of stretch fabric new ideas have come forwards and just like any clothing design it takes time, patience and practice.
For these Challits it is suggested that you experiment with different shapes and ideas taking your inspiration from wherever you go and to try out different draping ideas. This means lots of draping so it is recommended that you get hold of a small body form to practice on. A half sized body form is a great way to practice so that you are not wasting too much fabric. Also put aside a large block of time to work in.
The flow of working the drape in one piece for me is to flow with time. I know this sounds corny but just go with the flow.
A good workflow to travel though is to start with a concept and work through very roughly with a few options tried out on the ½ size model. Essentially there need not even be a design drawn up because this kind of design can be difficult to imagine and draw out. The piece is deliberated upon then reworked again to see how things can be improved or evolved. I find it useful during draping to create a Pause a sort of reset button at certain points as my logical brain does try to kick in. So when I get to a point where I feel I have taken on board at least 6 major ideas on the draping or if I have reached a junction or have simply cut too much off I stop draping. During the Pause you can photograph the draped garment and also transfer the pattern onto paper, a very similar to the process for fit and alterations in Auxiliary Reference Information for creating a Test Garment . Sometimes this brings an opportunity to see things in 2 dimensions and consider trying something else. The Pause just helps me take stock of what just happened to give myself time to take it on board and soak it in whilst being reminded of different areas as I draw the shape out. The pattern is placed back onto fresh fabric and retraced but not completely cut out, this allows excess fabric to be brought into the next draping session. At each Pause something is learned and something is questioned but every time something is changed. I think this helps to keep the mind open and allow all that creativity flood in. It gives a loose framework as a working practice.
Think of it as similar to drinking a glass of water. The glass is filled and reset then you drink from it, and when it is nearly or completely empty you either refill or discard it and get a fresh and different glass to refill. The water keeps flowing and each time the water is ingested we can ask for more. For me this is creative flow.
An advantage to these Pauses is that at every stage you have a full record of events and a pattern copy so that if you wish to go back to a particular drape concept and branch off then you have the starting point already.
If successful the piece can then be draped in the fabric of choice on the full sized model, patterned, a Test Garment made and final alterations completed and drawn back to the pattern before the garment is actually made. Whew!
Due to the fluidity of the process it is recommended to read through the rest of the Unit before starting, it will make more sense that way.
A one piece dress
The starting point for this challenge is to create a garment in one piece of fabric, with the exception of adding bindings if required to finish outside seams.
To push the challenge further make the pattern a Flexible Pattern so two or more different garments or versions can be made out of the same pattern (in this case a little excess is allowed to be cut off for each version but you are not allowed to add on as this would no longer be a one piece pattern.)
Where do you start when anything is possible?
For a little inspiration go back to the Threadelicious Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com.au/Threadelicious/sewing-draping/
Well I think we can agree that a dress has a Front and a Back regardless of coverage, so we will need to drape around the dress form at some point going from Front to Back whether you drape completely around or just half of the Body Form.
It also stands to reason that if we are draping from one side to the other that at some point fabric is going to go off grain, so when there is bias happening you have an opportunity to sculpt more shapes so keep your eye out for the bias!
With no idea of what Fashion Fabric will be used in the end we can start with either a woven or a knit for draping. I pick woven for now.
To start with I used the ½ sized model and took a very rough scrap of fabric from my scrap box. Although you could do your first concept out of paper.
This is what I pinned out with my squashed up little scrap. It was made from just the one piece of scrap with no bits added on.
Let’s call this Drape 1
It’s a sweet and simple little thing, and it fits!
The focus was more on getting the fabric around the dress form shape rather than lots of extravagant draping to make the concept easier to understand for this demonstration.
As for the design the dress has gathering in the Side from Front Princess to Back Princess seams. The bodice has tucks in the Princess line Front and Back and the Shoulder has a gathering effect. A little basting is used for the gathers sometimes pins just are not enough to draw up the shape.
So a very simple drape to use to start with.
This draped view has been shown upfront without going through the progression at this point as I want you to grab onto the concept of the workflow, the detailed thought process for the drape has been revealed further down the Challit.
Next comes the Pause.
This is the shape I had once I marked everything up and laid it all out.
The Concept is now a well filled out starting point.
At this stage I can do a simple assessment of likes and dislikes;
I like the volume in the skirt and how it sits between the Princess Lines and how the bodice tucks fall into the Princess line to correspond with the gathering. On a flipside I like how everything is flat at Centre Front/Back
I like how the Shoulder gives a nod to the gathering below with the volume created here
When I started to unpin a little I also liked how the front little v added a shape in the front.
What I wanted to look further into was the following points;
How to resolve the neckline a little more the banded neckline seemed a little like an add on and I was not sure I liked this
The armhole and resulting gathering in this area would need more fine tuning to get a better looking and more wearable result
I wondered if I would like more gathering in the skirt adding more volume or a twist of fabric in the back
I needed to solve the gap at the Waist, the skirt and the bodice need to meet at the waistline with enough space for a seam.
But most importantly I need to consider construction more. You really need to understand how things sew together. There really is no hope if something is designed with no thought to construction. Both design and construction have to be considered at the same time. With one piece of fabric seam allowances are going to play a very important part of getting this whole thing put back together again, the seam allowances have to be included.
At this point this very rough concept was marked out and a very rough pattern drawn up taking a little care to indicate where everything joins up.
This pattern was traced off onto fresh fabric using tracing paper. This outline is not a finished pattern it is a starting point for the next play with draping, the possibility is that everything could change but we have an anchor to start the flow – the glass is in the hand is full again ready to start the creative flow!
With this in mind the shape is not cut out thereby allowing excess fabric that is needed ready for draping.
Concept Design Expanded- Drape 2
As the creation made for the concept was very rough it needs to move on and evolve.
Now you get an idea of the process I can talk you through my thoughts about the Draping of Drape 1 the original concept as I cut around the shapes and drape out the Drape 2 version. It will look a little neater and clearer as I go as more time is taken to assess everything. You can use this set of notes to run through when you create your initial concept if you are draping a similar silhouette.
Initially to get the fabric all the way around the model I envisioned that the piece would either be cut on fold along the Centre Front seam or along the Back on the Centre Back Seam, this would depend on features draped at Centre Front/Back which will become clearer as things progress.
As the Back seam is the longest and flattest seam it makes sense to pin that in first as this seam will need less attention initially.
If you were to smooth this all the way to the side it becomes apparent that to get around the side you have a waist, hips and an arm to deal with. Yes very obvious but what to do about it?
Working on the skirt section first, to get a little interest I cut a horizontal line along where the Waistline would be, cutting from the outside edge of the fabric. Just starting the cut at Centre front and cutting through the side and to somewhere in the back. I kept stopping to assess how much volume I would get, the further into the back you cut the less volume you get as any gathering would need to be spread along the cut. At some point around the Princess line I stopped cutting. In this Drape 2 verion I made an exact mark for the Princess lines in Back and in Front.
I pinned the bodice fabric out of the way while I basted the gathered stitches for the skirt. In Drape 2 I did experiment with adding in more gathering with the excess fabric that had been allowed for this purpose. I stitched the first line for gathering up to the Front Princess Guideline then another line of stitching to extend the gathering to be twice the width of the space the gathering would fit into between the Princess Guidelines.
Here the first line of stitching is drawn up.
As the Waist is pinned in the Back this time around the Waist needs to be lifted half an inch so the Centre Back needs realigning. I knew the Waist was going to need some finessing but for the Centre Back to go out of alignment sends my senses tingling. However it’s good to go with the flow and just work with it so it stays for now.
The second lot of sewing is drawn up and the difference in gathering is compared.
After some consideration the lesser gathering wins out simply because from a cutting point of view the fabric may not be wide enough to give this much fullness for both sides in total. The fullness also looks less forced and more draped at the current marked points so the front is not extended any further. This second line of tacking stitches will not be used.
The skirt was then pinned along the Waist and down the Centre Front.
The excess left in the skirt can now be trimmed off as that little try out has been ticked off the list.
Going back around to Centre Back this needs to be straightened out because the Waist was lifted. I knew there would be a need to fiddle for want of a better word with the Waist and Back, so trying a little experiment I snipped into the Waist from Centre Back to get the Centre Back into alignment. This allows for the Waist Shaping if I want to use it.
So here is the dilemma. I wanted to create a garment in one piece and now I may as well have cut the waist all the way across! So is it cheating to have left just a few threads?
Not to worry maybe I will come up with another solution to this problem. Perhaps when this is patterned out again the divide can be closed. I this point I am thinking a stretch knit fabric resolves this issue rather quickly.
Previously in Drape 1 three Tucks had been pinned out and marked and now to try out and change the direction of the Tucks. There is not much in it but I think I like the way the creases fan out better this way and envisaging the other side I think this will work well.
Moving up to the top. The upper Back was smoothed into the Neckline, pinned and trimmed and smoothed across to the Armhole. But now these lines have all shifted so time to reposition them.
Bringing the fabric around the Armhole this needs to be cut out. For Drape 2 I need to make a closer assessment of the Armhole shape.
Here the Armhole is marked a short distance.
Snipping from mid-back Armhole to Base Armhole. There is a point somewhere on the Back Armhole when snipped will allow the Front Waist to slip into place, let’s call this a release point. For Drape 1 I quite merrily snipped away here and then released the whole of the front to pin out the tucks at the Waist on the Princess Line. This time though I am taking more time about it.
Can you see how without the snipping you can’t get the Centre Front to relax down? Everything simply can’t fit into the tight space.
Working slowly because you never know if you are snipping too much marking out the next cut line.
Then cutting away because an arm has to fit in there somehow.
You can see that there is more work needed to release the centre Front Neckline, namely the Back needs to be cut from the Front. Time to think about what happens in the Neckline and what happens in the Shoulder.
But doesn’t that shape look sweet!
In the original concept the Shoulder was split into two down the marked lines cutting the Back from the Front and the Back piece was draped around the Front Neckline and the Front was then released to allow pinning down the Centre Front and the Tucks added to the Princess Guideline and some form of rough gathering of all the excess fabric that was left for a sort of sleeve.
Time to get into the zone to see what else was possible.
A dart from Shoulder to Centre Front, it’s almost collar like.
Vertical pleating horizontally across the neckline, with this neckline the design would most likely end up being asymmetrical. Its sort of an inverse cowl but perhaps a little matronly with the gathering in the sides also.
Opening up the volume from Shoulder to Centre Front. Now I really like this but not sure if it goes with the gathering in the skirt these seem like two different outfits.
Then expanding on this idea, smaller but more pleating.
So this gives me some ideas but I still want to go back to shape that was originally draped in Drape 1 to try to resolve it so the Back is separated from the Front.
The Front Neck banding coming from the Back is pinned into place.
With a little manipulation I have some shape and form on the shoulder and although I know construction is going to be interesting I do like the shape this is making. As I have a square body I am usually looking for ways to accentuate the Shoulder and Hips to give the illusion of a smaller Waist.
Here is the Back, the piece that is missing can be added back onto the paper pattern. The piece coming from the Back around the Front Neckline has been rejected.
After some thought about access I decided to play with an opening in Front, now this would mean the pattern would need to be extended to add a fold back Facing but I this is a favourite shape for me it is flattering for a square shape to add some diagonal lines to break things up a little.
Then a Pause from Drape 2.
Concept Design Expanded - Drape 3
Here is Drape 2.
Here it is traced off.
Here are both Drape 1 and 2 side by side, can you see the evolution. Each time you drape and pause and check you can see how things alter and develop.
After looking back at the photos from Drape 2 I wondered how the front would drape more softly with a knit fabric and as this may help with the stretch needed in the Waist to join everything back together it seems a sensible thing to do, I may be able to get more shapes around the neckline.
A Play on a Cowl Neckline.
Some sort of Collar option.
This next one I liked very much, very chic, giving those diagonal lines that I like so much but with an origami feel at the shoulder where everything is tucked in.
Which then resulted in a changeup of the design overall. The gathering in the skirt was removed and tucks positioned instead which fit it better with this new Neckline. The Front feels less whimsical and a little sporty, as the fold in the shoulder looks a little hood like in a casual sweater but there is still something very chic and dressy about it.
Here is the Back, simple but perfectly formed.
Here comes the Pause.
Here is Drape 3 off the Body form.
The folds in Front will need to be planned out a little more so that would be my next drape and I would keep this in a knit.
We will finish here with Drape 3 but this process of flowing along with the draping can continue for any number of iterations….keep going and who knows you may come out with a collection!
Here is the pattern roughly transferred to paper it shows Draft 1 in Red and Draft 2 shown in Black, labels and notches can be added to refine the pattern further.. If patterned out in this way and cut on the fold you could pick either pattern to create by cutting along the required colour so one of two dresses can be made with this one pattern. To be clear the Flexible Pattern element is 2 one piece dresses on one pattern.
If that has not blown your mind yet consider creating from one shape two different ways to wear the same garment made from one piece of fabric. Perhaps it is turned on its side or upside down, or inside out for a different way to wear it!
The pattern would need to be reworked and refined on the full sized Body Form to get to a point where a Test Garment can be made and lots of thought would need to go into how it would be constructed.
Hopefully this gives you another vision of how you can drape your garments keeping the creative juices flowing.
More will be added to this unit later in the year.
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