[Module 7] Draping | 6. Draping advancement - Volume Control Approach- Part 3 Origami

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

‘Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.’

Ralph Lauren

Origami Draping

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 Concept

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!