Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Learning draping, my first self drafted pattern!



About a month ago, my husband got me an online sewing class as a gift.  It was Fashion Draping: Dress Making Basics with Paul Gallo, and I was eager to start right away!

My very first attempt at draping the muslin went all kinds of wrong.  I was very, very frustrated, but my husband convinced me to try and think about what had gone wrong and how I could correct it.
I thought my main problem was my dress form, which didn't have any of the areas marked on it that are used in the class, no stable reference points.  Also, some of the measurements were not correct for me, such as from the shoulder to the bust point.  Yes.....even with a good underwire bra, my bust is not longer THAT perky.  It's about 1.5" lower.


Now don't get my wrong, I love my dress form, but I knew I would need to do some serious work on it to make it functional for draping.  I would love to put a picture here, but honestly, the "fix" I came up with isn't pretty and not something I want to show in public!  I used an old nursing bra, and stuffed it with folded fabric scraps to get the correct bust size and placement.  My waist also no longer curves in like that.  Actually, thin as I have been most of my life, I don't think it ever did. :/
So I took some knit fabric and wrapped it around the waist and hips until all the measurements were again correctly matching mine, then held that in place with a spandex band.
I didn't have any style tape, and for whatever reason Joanns didn't have any for sale, so I hit a bit of a wall on marking the seam lines.  Then my husband got out a roll of black duct tape, and cut it into neat strips for me.  This worked well!  I did have to "guestimate" almost every line I marked:  Side seam, shoulder seam, princess seam, neckline, center front, and center back.  I used my own measurements to mark the waist, the bustpoint, and the shoulder blade.

So now my dress form looked like a cobbled together ugly mess, but it had stable (and hopefully accurate) places from which I could mark and measure.

My next attempt at draping the muslin went very well.  Everything seamed to match up down to 1/16", and I was feeling great about it!  What I did not realize was that the markings for the seamlines on the class dress form are probably (guessing here), about 1/8" wide, and the tape I had cut was about 3/8" wide.  The teacher added ease into the pattern by pinning on the far side of the CF or side seam, etc.  So while he was adding 1/8" ease into the seams, without realizing it, I was adding about 3 times as much ease!  Doh....

After I finished the drape, I transferred it all onto a paper pattern.  I had no drafting paper, but the teacher suggested using the back of gift wrapping paper, and that worked very well.

I felt pretty confident (I still didn't realize I had built in too much ease), so I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric from my own paper pattern.  It was not until I had the bodice sewn together that I realized it seemed too large.
It didn't take me too much time to realize my error.  I will have to buy style tape and remark my dress form for future drapes, but I was not about to toss this out as a wadder just yet!

I took it in at the side seams about 1" on each side.  That helped, but I had built too much ease into the CF, and that was going to be harder to fix.  The bust and chest were droopy and full of extra fabric.  The solution I ended up with was to widen and then join the top and bottom darts, basically turning my darts into makeshift princess seams.  But hey, it worked!  The bodice fit was now very good!
I did not alter the back darts, since it was too difficult to see and pin out the excess on my own back, and anyway, I do need room to move! :D

The class has us draft sleeves, and although I did draft my own short sleeve, in the end I decided to make it sleeveless, and just finish the armholes with bias tape.  A classic, sleeveless shift dress is something I did not own.

So, many hours of fitting, refitting, hemming and finishing later, here is my self drafted fitted dress.


From the front, I'm not loving it.  I have always been pretty straight from my waist to my hips, and this just emphasizes my rectangle shape.  From the side it looks good though!  Maybe a belt would help define my waist more?  I'll have to give that a try.

Also, for such an extremely simple looking dress, you would never know how many hours (and hours...and hours) I spent working on it.  My initial reaction after just finishing this project is this:  Drafting my own pattern was interesting and I learned a lot!  But I did not really enjoy myself nearly as much as I do using commercial patterns.  I felt too stressed the entire time.  For now, I think I'll stick to commercial patterns, and work on more self drafted things further in the future....maybe.

Next up is a cropped jacket in a matching blue (Monaco blue for the Spring Pantone colors).  A nice EASY pattern.
That may also help with some shape defining.  Or make it worse!  Geeze, I hope not, lol.

3 comments:

  1. Great job on your self drafted dress!

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  2. You did a great job! I am so impressed!

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  3. Ooo! I envy your dress form! {Drool}.

    Anyhoot… I linked to you via Pattern Review (see other posts re thanksgiving skirt). I had a boo at some of the things you made your daughter. They’re lovely. My mother made all of my clothes other than one dress my Grandmother gave me when I was about 8… and jeans. I imagine they were hand-me-down from big brother. My waist was thick but I didn’t fill the “cubby size” patterns they used to make for kids. My mother altered the patterns. At one point I remember her adding additional width and length to things using removable waist, hem and side seams, particularly play clothes. Depending on how much time you have to devote to sewing and your household economics, you might consider the idea. It wouldn’t be hard to do and things like the bright coral dress might be able to go an extra year or two. Something to think on anyway… You do nice work. It would be nice if it lasted longer.

    Happy stitching, Sewing Canary

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