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September 04, 2017 4 min read

Draping is an artistic approach of creating garments. Draping also refers to the quality of a fabric that describes the way the fabric hangs. Draping allows you to visualize the garment before you start cutting and stitching it. You need a great skill and attention to create a garment starting from a drape.

If you plan to create patterns, draping is one of the best methods you can choose. It is often used to give a dramatic effect in fashion design. Draping allows a piece of fabric to form to the curves of a human body, so it attracts the attention to the human shape. It is a great style of design in which you handle the fabric on the model and mark over it according to the design. It helps you bring your vision into reality.

Tools for draping

You need some basic tools if you want to create a design through the method of draping. So here we’re going to present you the necessary tools that you need to have for draping:

  • Dress form – You can find various types and sizes of dress forms.They are available for women, men, and children. You can choose the type you need for your garments, as they can be found with or without arms, and with or without legs.
  • L Square – It is a 24” ruler with two arms. One of its arms has 24 inches, while the other only has 14 inches. The two arms meet at 90°
  • French Curve Ruler – It is an irregular curved ruler that you use to shape the curved edges of necklines, armholes, collars, and crotch seams.
  • Tape Measure – It is a flexible, narrow, and firmly woven reversible tape, measuring 60 inches, and it is marked with measurements that indicate both metric and inches terms. You need it to take the measurements of a body, muslin, and dress form.
  • Muslin – It is a plain weave of cheap fabric that comes in different weights.
  • Straight pins – Also known as dressmaker pins, they feature sharp tapering points that don’t rust over the time. You should choose them carefully to be of good quality, as you need them to pass through the muslin into your dress form smoothly, to secure the muslin to the fabric.
  • Pin Cushion or Pin Dispenser – They both are sewing tools that keep pins organized and in a convenient place.
  • Awl – It is a pointed metal instrument that is used for punching eyelets holes in the belt.
  • Notcher – It is a punching tool that helps you mark the edge of a sloper or paper pattern.
  • Pencils – You need them for developing muslin patterns.
  • Tailor’s Chalk – It is a small piece of chalk, with a dimension of approximately 1 ‘/2" square and it features two tapered edges. You need it to temporarily mark lines on garment hems and other alteration points.
  • Scissors and shears – Generally, shears are four to eight inches long and they are made of steel. You can use bent-handled shears for easy and straight cutting.
  • Style tape – It is a narrow, woven tape that allows you to define style lines on the dress form.
  • Tracing Wheel – It is a sharp, spike edged circular wheel that is complemented with a handle. You need it to transfer markings from the drape to the pattern paper.
  • Yardstick – It is a metal or wooden ruler one yard in length that is marked in metric and inches terms. You need it to lay pattern pieces on the straight of grain of the fabric or to measure hemlines.

Principles of Draping

There are some rules – principles – that you should follow when you design using draping. We’ll show them here:

  1. You should always use the fabric on the appropriate grain lines, according to the design.
  2. When you use a dress form, always make sure its body lines, such as the bust line, hipline, and waistline, are parallel to the floor.
  3. You should use good quality pins that don’t lose their shape easily and don’t rust.
  4. To avoid your dress go out of shape before you start draping, make sure that the seam lines of your dress formare well established.
  5. You should tear the muslin piece from the bolt of the cloth, rather than cutting it. This helps in maintaining proper grainlines.
  6. You should check muslin for the grainlines, to make sure they are at right angles to each other.
  7. Mark grainlines on muslin and mark cross grain at the fullest part of the dress form.
  8. Pin the fabric to the dress form at the seams and labeled points.
  9. Gently handle curved edges, and never pull the fabric and distort the grain.
  10. Pin darts, pleats, and tucks, and clearly mark all lines.
  11. Drape all pieces of the garment and mark all design and seam lines using small lines or dots at regular intervals.
  12. Mark with an X mark when darts, pleats, and tucks cross seam lines.
  13. If you want to create a symmetrical design, you can drape only half of design and copy it in full later.
  14. Choose the same type of inexpensive muslin that resembles the original that you’re going to stitch.

Advantages of draping

Using draping techniques has several advantages, such as the following ones:

  • It allows you to visualize the design even before you start cutting and stitching the garment. This way, you can alter the design easily at every stage.
  • Considering you have chosen your dress formdepending on your personal measurements, it is easy for you to create custom made dresses using draping techniques.
  • You reduce the wastage of fabric, as you only do trails before cutting.
  • You can store the muslin-draped pattern for as long time as you need, and then you can use it repeatedly.
  • You can also make paper patterns from the muslin patterns designed, so you can use them further.
  • It is easier to create designs such as drapes and cowls than to create using the flat pattern technique.

Disadvantages of draping

As with any other thing, there are not only advantages of draping, but also disadvantages. So let’s see some disadvantages that draping has:

  • It is quite expensive
  • Draping requires you to have more talent
When you drape a dress on the dress form, you use a cheaper fabric, so it is possible that the final fitting of the garment is not exactly as you supposed it would be.