Yesterday I completed the first week of my intensive Draping I class (4 nights a week for 5 weeks) at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). It was thrilling -- and intense.
Just showing up four nights in a row is a lot for me: every other class I've taken at FIT so far (this is my fourth) has met just once a week for roughly 4 months. This class moves fast and, naturally, you're expected to keep up. Our professor, a full-time faculty member, is demanding but clear.
We started draping the very first day. Similar to my patternmaking class, we chose a dress form from the dozens in our classroom; we'll be working with that particular form for the duration of the class.
First we learned how to "block" a piece of muslin so that it was on grain, stretching the corners till the piece formed a perfect rectangle, and marking various points like center front, as well a grain guideline which will need to be kept vertical as we start draping (you can see mine in the pic below, intersecting the horizontal hip line). We draped the muslin piece on our dress form, pinched out two darts in front (and later, two darts in back), marked the side seam, and learned how to transfer the various markings and measurements from the muslin onto a piece of pattern paper.
After making front and back straight skirt pattern pieces, we then
used these to create skirt slopers on oaktag (heavy paper similar to
Later in the week we traced our skirt slopers to make a fresh pattern, which we then manipulated to create a new design. Our assignment was to design a hip yoke with attached dirndl skirt. Using style tape, we worked out our yoke design on our dress forms. It could be any shape we desired. It would have an attached dirndl skirt (which is gathered where it attaches to the yoke, as opposed to flared). The skirt could be as voluminous as we wanted provided we could gather it into the yoke. I made mine three times as wide as the original straight skirt sloper. I did this by cutting the original sloper into even strips (8 in all), numbering them and then lining them up on a piece of pattern paper (matching the hip line) and leaving two inches distance between each strip.
We trued the top curved edge and then, using carbon paper and a pattern
wheel, traced our new pattern onto muslin (with seam allowances), which
we then pinned on our dress form. A lot of steps, right?
The yoke was made by drawing the yoke style line (i.e. shape) onto our traced skirt pattern,
cutting each (front and back) out, closing the original waist darts, and
cutting and spreading the pattern paper so it lay flat. We traced this
onto fresh pattern paper and added seam allowances (below).
Yesterday, we cut the pattern out in muslin and attached the pieces with pins. (We used the sewing machine to add gathering stitches to the skirt.) BTW, we drape only on the right side of the dress form; right now our designs are all symmetrical.
Here's what I made:
So far, I find this process to be much more creative than flat patternmaking, though of course I draw a lot on what I learned in my patternmaking class. So glad I took that class; otherwise I'd be a little lost.
I'm already considering signing up for Draping II in the fall. I would also like to take Ladies Tailoring II -- it's being offered but there have to be enough students signed up for it to actually happen. (Men's tailoring seems to suffer from insufficient enrollment these days.) Not sure I'm ready for two classes at a time but some of these kids are taking as many as six!
My draping adventures continue next week (after the Memorial Day holiday); I'm very excited to see what's next. I'll keep you posted.
Have a great day everybody, and a safe holiday weekend for you Americans!
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!