[Module 7] Draping | 5. Draping Intermediate - Draping Approach, Part One

Updated: Jul 16, 2020



So far in the previous Unit Draping Basics – Positioning Approach we have looked at how to create patterns through positioning fabric into defined shapes on the body form, defined style and seam lines marked with tape and then positioned fabric onto the shapes using fabric draped with the straight Grainline going down the garment therefore creating garments that are more fitted. Of course only as long as you have customised your Body Form!


The kind of clothing you could make by a Positioning style of draping are mainly around the bodice and close or tailor fitted. This is very useful if you are making an under layer to support the garment on top, or the tops for formal wear or even corset or bra or swimwear making. Also you can use this approach to fit the upper torso in fit to flare dresses and tops.


As mentioned before you can either drape with your muslin or cotton fabric or use a fabric with a similar drape to your fashion fabric (but cheaper!) when defining your shapes. Sometimes I will hold up and pin the fashion fabric to see how it drapes and then remove it and make the pieces with my muslin and keep in mind how the fashion fabric will drape when the garment is made.


As we are going to look at a little bias draping in this Unit we will be using larger pieces of fabric than those used in the previous Unit with the Positioning approach, obviously you can drape all of the garments shown here using any grain you want to. Draping fabric on the bias can give you a very different result as the fabric will hang in a different way to a garment made on the straight grain. Bias draping wastes lots of fabric and personally I feel that in some fabrics it can feel peculiar on my body pulling in all directions against the weave so in my heart I am not a big fan of bias draping so I tend to leave bias draping for that really extra special garment that needs some draping flare using a lovely draping material such as silks or a nice draped bias cut skirt. I personally tend not to wear bias drape in everyday wear. Of course I am a sucker for a cowl neckline that does drape beautifully on the bias.


So taking draping a step further from the last Unit we will shift the ease in the fabric further away from the body adding extra wearing ease but also adding in design ease to take the garment immediately to the silhouette that is required in the design. This approach of Draping is a little more organic than just positioning fabric onto a defined shape, you will need to experiment, imagine and consider the shapes you are making. It does make sense to have your finished picture in mind or have your design to hand when you are draping to help you compare your draped fabric to ensure you are on track. Of course if you are simply spending time playing with your fabric then just have fun pining new shapes as this is how you are going to learn what works for the body shape you are designing for and what doesn’t.


In order to get the best advantage from your draping from this point onwards it is also useful to have a mirror a little distance away so that you can see the effect of your draping at different angles (even more useful in the next unit).


In the previous unit we drew the Straight Grainline on the fabric and also a line for an anchor point for the first pin. In fact you can draw as many lines as you want to on your fabric, and we will look at adding extra lines to help keep the fabric on grain as you pin (something you could also have done in the first unit when positioning fabric if you feel that you can control the fabric better for the body shape you are designing for).


In this Unit then we are going to look at 4 draped garments.

  • A Cool Camisole – fit to flare with some lace detail and optional bindings. Lovely in a lightweight cotton or lawn fabric, show off your prints!

  • An Everyday A-line Flared skirt – looking at adding wearing ease to give a little more fullness for comfort. Try it in different fabric types, light/mid/heavy for different results.

  • A Flirty Swing Dress, on bias – introducing draping collars to make a Flexible Pattern.

  • A Collective Kaftan – looking at a large draped stylised sleeve, great in a light drapey fabric cotton, satin or silk.

Cool Camisole

Here is a little Camisole in two pieces a full Front and a full Back.


It can be worn as nightwear, underwear or worn as a summer top or layered for casual wear, so it is a very flexible garment to add to a capsule wardrobe.


In this sample I have used a light or lawn weight cotton and chosen a pretty print so that it could be worn with jeans. I have added a wide binding on the armholes which carries up to the shoulder to create a strap and a little piece of lace in Front adds a charming touch. You could even add lace to the Back or the base as well.


Here is the Front.























Here is the Back – looking at the strap in back in this photo I may need to check the width of the strap on my pattern as it seems to get wider as it goes up. No matter how particular you are with you patterns sometimes you spot something you missed. The photo could be making this look worse than it is but I will go back to my pattern and fine tune this so that when I make this next time it’s a better pattern.