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September 15, 2017 4 min read

Fashion draping is the oldest method in fashion design, and it has been used since the 18th century. Today, it is considered as an essential part of fashion design. Fashion draping refers to the process of placing and pinning fabric on a standard size dress formto create the structure of a clothing design. You can find various types and sizes of dress formscreated for women, men, and children to fulfill the requirement of fashion draping.

You can drape a dress using a design sketch as a basis or by playing with the way your fabric falls to create new designs that give the starting point of the dress design process. After you finish draping, you need to remove the toile fabric from the dress form.The fabrics used for fashion draping are usually very light, and they are called differently in the USA than in the UK. In the USA, these fabrics are called “toile”, while in the UK, they are called “muslin” cloth.

In order to be able to follow the required techniques for draping fabric, you need to possess a certain knowledge of the fabric’s characteristics. You must be able to distinguish among various fabrics and to choose the most appropriate fabric for flow and line of each design. You must allocate enough time to collect swatches while you shop for fabric and record them by width content. You can create and develop your own reference library with your fabrics.

Ideal fabrics for draping

Fabrics and clothes we choose need to be related to our lifestyle. There are many various fabrics that are appropriate for our active lifestyles. Some of them include stretchy knitted fabrics, georgette, chiffon, organza, voile, sheer cotton, and lightweight silk fabrics. These are some of the most suitable fabrics to be used for fashion draping. When you plan to make sophisticated draped garments, you need to consider the drape ability of the fabrics. The most suitable fabrics for draped garments are very light to medium fabrics.

Usually, garments made of woven goods are draped in muslin or another inexpensive fabric, in which the grain and cross grain is quite visible. It is important that the hand and quality of the muslin represent the texture and characteristics of the fabric used for the garment design. For example, soft muslin is ideal to imitate the draping quality of knitted cloth and natural or synthetic silk.

Medium-weight muslin is ideal to imitate the draping quality of wool and medium-weight cotton. Coarse muslin imitates the draping quality of heavy weight wool and cotton. Canvas muslin imitates the draping quality of heavy weight fabrics, such as denim and artificial fur.

Before you start the actual process of draping, you are recommended to consider your large collection of fabrics available. Keep in mind that the fabric you choose for garment draping has a great influence on the finished look. Therefore, you need to first analyze and understand the structure and characteristics of your chosen fabric, in order to create the proper ease, hand feel and balance of the clothing or pattern drape.

If you want to make garments of knitted fabrics, you should use less expensive knit fabric for draping. However, make sure the sample knit has the same stretch value as in your chosen fabric for the finished garment. You need to use the right side of the front dress formto drape the front basic pattern or garment. However, this procedure may vary.

Tools and equipment needed for draping

Depending on your requirement, you can choose a dress formwith a size such as US8, US10 or US12. In addition to the dress form, which is a must-have for draping, you also need other tools and equipment, such as:

  • Draped-cloth
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Graduated square
  • Grade ruler
  • Foot ruler
  • Hip curve
  • Sleeve curve
  • Arm hole curve
  • French curves
  • Pins
  • Pencils
  • Sharpeners
  • Marking chalk
  • Notches
  • Dark colored twill tape

Draping pattern making

Fashion draping is a method that includes stitching the garment by the use of loosely hanging fabric to create the flowing effect. Basic sloper patterns are sometimes used to create draped and stylized garments. There are designers who also use sloper to create sleeves.

Draped pattern making can also be considered as a connection between design and production of a dress. This process is a method of interpreting the design regardless of the style, size, and shape. During the draping process, you manipulate, mold and shape fabric through the skillful hand you have, until the design is replicated in three-dimensional form.

Draping noes not necessarily involve the aid of a pattern to create new designs. However, drapers may choose to include parts of an existing pattern in the preparation of the muslin as an aid in the drape. If you are used to flat pattern making, you may use some aspects of draping to create specific designs. However, each of the pattern making methods has its importance, but using them together enhances your ability to create design patterns accurately.

There are some important aspects that you should consider when you drape fabric on a dress form. They include:

  • GSM (weight) of the fabric
  • The bias, selvage of the fabric
  • Pattern, texture and muslin mock-ups
  • Darts, seam location, finishing

As a fashion designer, you need to have at least one dress formin your studio. It is especially required if you want to use the draping technique to create new and awesome designed garments. However, the dress formis also helpful for checking the proper fitting of a garment.

Words in the end

Nowadays, draping techniques are learned in fashion design schools, academies, and colleges, but students can understand the art of fashion draping and become able to create truly fashionable garments. Today, fashion draping is mainly used for theatrical costumes.

Fashion draping usually requires more time to complete, but with continuous practice, you will see it becomes easier and you will create more accurate dresses in less time.