“Drape” can mean a lot of things when it comes to sewing – it can be a fancy covering for windows, or the way a fabric folds and falls, or it can describe a technique used to create new garments.
You’re probably familiar with pattern drafting, where the shapes of pattern pieces are drawn on large sheets of paper based on body measurements, but you may not be aware that there’s another approach to designing clothes called draping. I didn’t know much about draping myself until I watched a master draping demonstration at a V&A Museum event last year, and I was mesmerized. The draper started off with just a large sheet of muslin fabric and a dress form, and as he expertly folded and moved the fabric, cutting and pinning as he went along, a beautiful dress began to emerge. After the dress was perfectly pinned on the dress form the way he wanted, he then carefully took it off the form and used those muslin pieces as his pattern to recreate the design in fashion fabric.
While it would take years to learn the craft and skill demonstrated to us that evening, even beginning sewers can learn to drape a basic garment now with the tools available on the internet. Expert sewer Mimi Goodwin has posted a series of videos on Youtube showing How to Drape a Bodice that is clear enough to follow along at home.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you create your pattern, whether it’s on paper with rulers and curves, or in muslin on a dressform, in the end you’ll still end up with a creation that’s totally yours, and then you can (of course!) upload your pattern for the rest of us to share!
Photo by tanakawho under Creative Commons